Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why I Don't Review Books

In the past week, I've read two books. This is very exciting, considering how little time I've found to read lately. I'm hoping to dive into more from here on out (and you can take a peek at what I've read and what's on-deck over here).

I use Goodreads to keep track of what I have read and want to read, but if you take a look over there, you'll see I don't post reviews. I don't even assign stars, generally.

Why not? It's something I've struggled with a bit. As a reader, I definitely have opinions. Maybe too many sometimes. And I've seen how it can look when authors get super-critical of other books—not pretty.

But authors should be allowed to voice their opinions, right? We're readers, too—maybe first and foremost. At the least, most of us have been reading longer than writing.

There's validity to that, and I would never tell others what to do on that front. Here are some of my thoughts that led me to just refrain from public reviewing.

Who would I be writing the reviews for? If my friends know I read a book and ask what I thought, I'll tell them. So I would post for strangers, for the random internet shopper. Why should a stranger care what I think of a book? (I admit, this is a weak reason, but it speaks more to my lack of motivation about writing reviews.)

Writing thoughtful reviews takes time. I can barely find time to read the books in the first place.

But giving stars on a site like Goodreads hardly takes any time, right? True, but if I hate the book and give it a low star rating, I wouldn't want to click one star and leave no reason why.

Maybe I could only give stars/reviews to books I really like. But I have a lot of friends with books out—everything from self-published to Big-6-published. If I review some and not others, it's easy to infer I didn't like those others. It gets iffy from there.

These reasons probably don't hold much water for anyone other than me, but it comes down to something simple for me. I'm a book-writer and a book-talker, but I'm not a book-reviewer. At least, not for now. I imagine I'll make some exceptions, and maybe I'll change my mind someday. Until then, this works for me.

How do you feel about authors reviewing books? Do you have a policy of your own? What considerations went into it?


Vivi B. said...

I'm the exact same way. I will sometimes tweet about how much I like a certain book or something, but I won't do reviews. It doesn't feel good for me to slam a book when it's just my opinion. I don't want to hurt another author, and sometimes I just don't click with a book, though others do.

Sessha Batto said...

You are not alone - I am a prodigious reader who never reviews anymore. I happily promote books I like, but I'm a lousy reviewer with very particular tastes, so either I say 'well written but not really my thing' or leave it alone and, frankly, with everything that's on my plate, leave it alone is the easiest and safest answer ;)

brighton said...

The only review I'll be writing this year is one for one of my CP's newly self-published book, because I think she did a really good job with it and I know self-pubbed books need all the help they can get.
Not only do I not write book reviews, I also don't read them, or ever make any book reading choices because of them. I am a compulsive review reader when it comes to other consumables such as cameras and hiking boots, because I find them more applicable and objective. The devices either work and do the things I want them to or they don't. Whereas something like a book or a movie, so much of it is personal and subjective, I don't find other people's feelings about them particularly useful.

Matt Sinclair said...

Lately, the only books I truly "review" are those reviews I write for work. You're right, a thoughtful review takes time. For me, sometimes as much time as it took to read the book in the first place. That said, I greatly value reviews that others have written about the books I'm involved with (Spring Fevers, The Fall), especially when I don't know who they are and they've written a glowing review.

R.C. Lewis said...

Thanks for the comments, all. Good to know I'm not alone. :)