Discussion – Compiling My Bookish Thoughts

My Writing Week (3)
Hi everyone,

Ever since I became a book blogger, I have been fascinated by the art of writing book reviews. They account for a very high number of my posts, and are the most common type of post that you see across our community.

I am particularly interested in the methods and the thought processes that go towards book reviews, how long they take to produce and formulate in our minds, and the amount of work that goes into writing them.

When I first started writing reviews and had very little experience in blogging, I took something of a relaxed attitude, approaching them almost as if from the point of view of a literary critic. After a while, I realised that they were not quite personal enough, and offered little more than a basic overview of the story.

From the beginning of 2018, my reading has taken on a new sense of direction and as such, I have noticed a sharp development in the way I review books. I have also been inspired by the way other bloggers review books. As a result, the entire process of writing reviews has become one of my favourite activities, even if at times it can be stressful!

For me, this process begins at the moment I first open the book. I analyse the writing style and take stock of the story, hanging on every word and keeping track of almost everything I think and feel as the plot develops.

Lately, I have found myself thinking of lines that I could possibly include in a review, while still reading the book! For the ones with more complex or wide-ranging plots, I have taken to scribbling down notes and brainstorming words that describe each vital element of the book.

When it comes to actually writing the review, I treat it really seriously because each one feels like a test of whether I can be a half-decent book blogger, not to mention the fact that I can be a perfectionist.

Most of the time I have a kind of structure in my head about what to say and in what order. Every word is of the utmost importance. There are always a lot of thoughts circling around my mind and it is just a matter of reassembling them into to an honest, coherent, and very personal analysis.

I usually try to incorporate as much detail into the review as I possibly can while remaining fairly concise, and making every review unique to each particular book I read.

And sometimes, this can be difficult. There have been a couple of times where my struggle to find the right words has led to anxiety. Because of this, a few reviews have taken me literally hours to write. On the other hand, I love it when the words flow very quickly; when that happens it really helps my self-esteem.

There are some books that are simply very difficult to review. Some of them we love so much that it is hard to know where to start, which is a great problem to have! Others contain lots of twists and we do not want to give away any spoilers. It is all part of the fun.

Ultimately, I write book reviews in the hope that those of you who read them will enjoy, and perhaps even feel inspired to pick up a book that I really liked. I would not put so much thought into my reviews if it were not for my fellow bloggers, another reason for me to feel grateful to the community.

How do you approach writing book reviews? What methods do you use when putting them together? Please let me know in the comments!

Happy reading πŸ™‚

17 thoughts on “Discussion – Compiling My Bookish Thoughts

  1. Your reviews always read professional, objective, and fair which I have been striving to attain but failed miserably.
    Just like yourself, when I started my book blog about 2 years ago, I knew nothing about blogging let alone writing book reviews. I was literally a babe in the woods, so my old posts were horribly cringe-worthy and they ultimately resulted in going to the trash bin.
    Last spring – from April to July 2017 was really a struggle; I often found myself staring at the computer screen for hours striving to will my words to come out in vain. I was washed over by the feeling of inferiority, I was even dreadful of the moment when I finish a book because which means I have to write a review.
    I still do struggle with writing books reviews at times. Some went quite easily with my words flowing out of me while others gave me a hell of a time. But there’s one thing I’m always mindful of. I want to convey my feelings and emotions, even my thought process while I was reading the book. We all interpret books differently, as we please so it’s totally fine that my take on a book is different from others. Besides, I am still a fledgling book blogger. I don’t want to sound robotic or just barking out my opinions without my emotions in it. So, my reviews might leave a lot to be desired, I’ve come to terms with it, thinking it’s my voice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is a truly remarkable comment, Noriko. I felt several different emotions while reading it and way you describe some of the difficulties you have encountered writing book reviews has really hit home.

      When you describe staring at the screen for hours, there have been times where I have felt the same way, and it can be really hard to maintain any kind of composure. That feeling of inferiority is hard to shake off at first.
      For the record, I really love reading your book reviews. Sometimes I feel like they come across more naturally, more personally than mine. I love your voice and that is what makes you one of my favourite book bloggers. πŸ™‚
      I am so pleased and humbled that you feel my reviews come across that way. The finished review can only give some indication of how easy or hard it might have been for us to write.

      Maybe we can inspire each other with our book reviews πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Whoa, thank you, Stephen! I am so humbled to hear that coming from you! It means so much to me, thank you so much!!
        It seems like we have a lot in common – I’m so glad that I wasn’t the only one and even you struggle and have similar experiences when writing reviews!
        You have always been my inspiration and I’m so glad that we have met πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading books and writing about them has been a wonderful way for me to practice developing my writing voice and also to realise that people read and follow you because of it. I’ve always tended to be critical if my writing efforts even though I love it, so the blog is where I’ve tried to over that tendency. I love to write a review without planning, and sometimes I’ll write my first thoughts on Goodreads and then let the book percolate a while before the review. I just love the freedom to do whatever and write what wants to be expressed.
    Fabulous, thought provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Claire! Before I started blogging I had no experience of writing about books, so I it has had to gradually develop over time. I agree, it is a great way to practice your writing, and that freedom is indeed wonderful.
      I am always very critical of my writing, so that is why the anxiety does occasionally set in when the words are not coming so easily.
      I like your way of doing things – writing your initial thoughts on Goodreads. What I usually do is write my review asap after finishing it, as it is still fresh in my mind.
      Happy writing πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. You’ve mentioned some very relevant points here, Stephen. I also find writing reviews for those books I love extremely difficult because I believe that the best review should be balanced and provide just enough insight on all notions e.g. pace, narrative and I can rarely put these thoughts across in an objective manner because I end up exaggerating. I do often find myself stopping and starting on these ones to make sure that I write the best way I possibly can. However, when I already know the positive and negative points I plan to discuss in my review for an average rated book I tend to just start writing until I finish and save the document so I can go back later on to edit. I find this usually helps and I have a fresh and new perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Darina. It is so easy to stray towards exaggerating when writing a review about a book we love. Some reviews come together really well, but with others it can be to write as strongly as I would like.
      I like your reviews very much, they are insightful, analytical and always well-written.

      Like

  4. Interesting post. I think one reason I write reviews is actually to help me process my thoughts about books and help me to be a more critical reader. If people like the reviews that’s a bonus really. As I’m writing a novel myself, I need to be an active reader engaging with content.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s useful discussion. I bet I will be in minority here because I approach my reviews like I would approach some serious PhD thesis. No kidding…They end up to be long because I have a lot to say and they end up to be a bit serious because I am still learning to write like it is all fun and games πŸ™‚ Like you I also sometimes take notes and look for quotes to include.

    Liked by 1 person

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