Raise your hand if you’ve ever reviewed a book!
Which is probably all of us, let’s be honest, because well you are reading my blog and it IS a book review blog despite frequent undignified rumours being spread that it’s just an ode to cake. * Reviewing books sort of comes with the bookworm life. Some of us hate it, some love it. I fall headfirst into the latter category.
I REALLY LOVE TO REVIEW BOOKS! You can probably tell due to 969 reviews I have up on goodreads. I just love telling people what to do! ** I love sharing opinions! I love writing bullet-point lists of reasons a book is great or, alternately, reasons why a book is like a salad and there’s nothing fun or good about salad. There is only darkness.
But, like all fun things, book reviewing has a dark side. Because it’s actually really difficult. There are at least 43 struggles we’ve probably all faced while trying to review books and I’m about to share 10 of them with you. I’m not sharing all 43 because (A) my posts are so long, dude, how do I even manage this, and (B) I’m frightfully lazy so who has time for typing this all up. So take what you can get, my pineapples. And let’s see if we all experience these relatable struggles! ***
* The rumours were spread by me. BUT THEY’RE STILL NOT TRUE. I HAVE MORE INTERESTS THAN JUST CAKE. Sandwiches for instance, and stationery and cute dogs.
** I joke. I JOKE.
*** Hopefully it’s not just me or I’ll just have to laugh awkwardly and sit in the shadows by myself eating an awkward sandwich and avoiding eye contact. Oh wait. That’s my aesthetic anyway.
1. YOU HAVE TO USE WORDS AND WHAT’S UP WITH THAT.
The alphabet is a very good idea and all, until you realise you have to string it together to form coherent sentences. Because we can only get away with so much “AFJSKDALFDJ” in reviews. And sometimes sentences are hard??? Like what do I think about this book?? I don’t even know.
Plus everyone else always seems to have their words in order while yours are just running about like manic chickens. It’s daunting!
Such Professional Reviewer #1: This book is a thoughtfully crafted work of modern art that will poignantly touch the hearts of many.
Such Professional Reviewer #2: An astounding and profound analysis of the phenomenal complexities of human nature.
Me: Some of the characters were potatoes and the plot twist made me go ACK!! ACK!!
HOW DO I HAVE A BOOK BLOG.
2. YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY HAVE THOUGHTS.
Look some books just give me 0% thoughts. And this doesn’t even mean they’re bad?!? Like I might love a book so very much that all I can say is…I loved that book so very much. Which is nice, but not very convincing.
Honestly the books I love are entirely harder to review than the books I hate. WHERE IS THE FAIRNESS.
3. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SUBMIT IT TO PUBLISHERS.
This happens when you are an ARC reviewer. The publishers kindly send you tomes that some author somewhere has cried, wept, bled, and sacrificed sweets to the chocolate gods in order to accomplish. The publisher says “HERE IS THIS BOOK FOR FREE, TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK” and then…you have to do just that.
So much room to panic.
What if you hate it??? What if you have to say “hey that book you gave me FOR FREE absolutely sucked and here’s my review which informs the world of this, wooo, I’m such a good publicity asset for you, feel free to send more books!”
I mean. I want to bury myself. So there’s that.
Look! I’m kidding a little bit here. We’re asked to give honest reviews and everyone knows a good controversial ranty review is sometimes just as enticing as a flailing review. People are negative lemons! They want to see what the fuss is about! We’re just required to be honest. BUT I’M STILL GOING TO PANIC OVER HURTING FEELINGS AND MAYBE BEING BANISHED SOMEDAY BECAUSE I’M SUPER BLUNT.
4. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A INTERGALACTIC BATTLE WITH STAR RATINGS.
Some say 3-stars means “good”. Some say it means “meh”. Some are rating it 3.5 which Goodreads denies exists. Some are rating it 3.14 stars which is accurate for their opinion, but it’s also pi????? And now you can’t focus on their review because pie????????
NO ONE’S STAR RATINGS MEAN THE SAME THING. IT GIVES ME AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS.
And if you’re wondering what mine mean, while we’re discussing it — like so:
5 stars = I love it so much I will marry it at dawn
4 stars = this is good and solid but I’m not naming my laptop after it
3 stars = basically a meh potato salad, I will consume with no real feelings either way
2 stars = this was bad and I have a pocket of rage
1 star = if this book didn’t exist that’d be great thanks
5. THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY FORMATTING OPTIONS.
Do you do a bullet point list?? Dislikes vs likes? Do you highlight paragraphs? Change font sizes? Mini reviews? Looooong reviews? Photo reviews? To gif or not to gif? Write a poem? Do a dance? Compare it to a grapefruit tree? Do a summary before? Or afterwards? Have a spoiler section?
OR ALL OF THEM?????
6. YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT YOUR “VOICE”.
This is just part of blogging in general, to be honest, but I find the bloggers I most like to read have very defined voices. Sometimes this means I feel like I’m reading an intelligent and passionate article, or maybe I feel like we’re having a casual chat, or maybe I’m admiring their ALL CAPS or dry wit or ability to mention cake * in like every single freaking post whether it makes sense or not.
But having an engaging blogging and review voice is GREAT. Also sometimes not easy to find. Is this really how I talk?? Should I be more formal? Informal? Do I use too many all caps??? Do I use too many question marks????????? How many crises are you allowed to have in 3 minutes????? AM I BEING ANNOYING BECAUSE I ACCIDENTALLY HAPPEN TO BE YELLING ALL THE TIME AROUND HERE????
* It’s like I just burned myself. I can’t even.
7. APPARENTLY EATING CAKE DOESN’T GET THE THING DONE.
This is just rude and I have filed a complaint with the atmosphere to come down here and fix this deficiency in the logic of our universe. But if you don’t write a review, guess what?
YOU DON’T HAVE A REVIEW.
And this is just stupid, because surely if I leave a book next to my laptop for long enough while I take a small cake break, it’ll get done by itself, right?
Well, wrong. And I protest.
8. YOU HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO PEOPLE WHAT THE WORDS “SUBJECTIVE” AND “OPINION” MEAN.
I spend about 87% of my time on Goodreads giving definitions of these words. Because apparently people don’t get the point that BOOKWORMS DO NOT HAVE A HIVE MIND AND WILL NOT ALWAYS AGREE. It’s silly because no one expects us all to like marmalade. This is because marmalade is evil and a sin upon this universe. But there is literally NO ONE on this planet who is going to stab you in the throat for not liking marmalade. *
But apparently books are different and we should all agree?
HAHAHAH NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
If I write a 2-star review on a hyped book, I’m guaranteed to get hate these days. The price of having a large following I suppose. Which is DUMB. I have just as many feelings as I did when I had 2 followers. ** The other day I even had a bunch of people telling me to stop liking a book I gave 5-stars. I’ve been told I don’t have rights to have opinions, that I should change my reviews to reflect someone else’s opinion who felt their opinion had more worth. I mean…I cannot even with the internet sometimes. I’ve started throwing chickens at people because I’m so done.
It’s just an opinion, dude. And honestly, who am I? I AM NOBODY. MY OPINION ON A SMOL PAPERBACK DOES NOT EVEN MATTER!!!
* Not even me. But if you eat it and die, I told you so.
** I have 4 feelings by the way, and they’re an endangered species so I take good care of them and only get them out of their box on Tuesday afternoons.
9. IT’S HARD TO GIVE FULLY OPEN OPINIONS IF YOU’RE PRIVATE ABOUT YOUR LIFE.
Sometimes I really relate to a book because it is about a minority aspect that I identify with or an experience I’ve been through. BUT. I don’t want to tell the internet the details! Because it’s my life!! I WANT TO KEEP IT IN A TIDY BOX OF PRIVACY, THANKS. But these days it seems that if you don’t clarify that you personally have life experience on the topic: your opinion is void. I find it so awkward when people are telling me my view is WRONG when I want to whisper, “Well, I lived this so…I should know.”
I just have to stand there awkwardly and say naught and throw more chickens.
I feel bad about all the chickens?? Maybe I’ll throw chicken sandwiches instead??
10. FORGETTING ALL THE THINGS IS THE REALITY.
I am actually Gandalf because I have no memory of this place. And this isn’t because I left the review for 2 weeks. This is because I left off the review for 2 HOURS. I’ve been informed this is because I read too fast, but honestly?? No, sit down you’re silly. And I don’t even know what I had for lunch. Or what my niece’s name is. Or how long I’ve been wearing this tee shirt. I’d say my faulty memory is just who I am as a person. Plus apparently it’s an INTJ thing to have a bad memory so, boom.
LIST OF THINGS I ALWAYS FORGET WHEN REVIEWING A BOOK:
- author’s name
- how it started
- how it ended
- the middle smudge
- cool neat quotes that should change my life but what are they
- what anyone looked like
- characters’ names
LIST OF THINGS I ALWAYS REMEMBER WHEN REVIEWING A BOOK:
- my opinion on the cover
- my overall feels of the entire tome
- which character I’m in love with, but this is either the (a) dog, or (b) antihero…so that’s easy
- how many times I dropped it on my face while reading because my arms get tired okay
But no matter how much I complain, I really love reviewing still!
I like getting my thoughts down! I find that writing my opinion (1) helps me to remember the book a bit better (and I obviously need all the help I can get) and (2) it’s fun, (3) it’s therapeutic, and (4) look at me, I just like typing okay? It’s my thing. I love having an opinion and a voice and also subtly yelling at people about good books I want them to love too.