Why I suck at reviewing

I sat down today to write a review of the book I just finished and I realised something: I’m terrible at writing reviews.

Let me count the ways:

  • I find it almost impossible to reduce a work of hundreds of pages into 300 entertaining and informative words – it wouldn’t surprise me if a review of mine actually put someone off a book I loved because I’m so bad at describing how awesome it was
  • When it’s a book I loved, I have a lot of trouble finding the line between unbiased praise and all-out gushing
  • I read other people’s reviews and they are filled with words like ‘oeuvre’ and ‘mordant’, while I’m sitting on thesaurus.com trying to find new ways of saying ‘I liked it a lot’
  • I have all kinds of issues finding the balance between revealing enough of the story to interest people, but keeping enough hidden to avoid pissing off the spoiler police
  • And then I get all angsty that nothing I could write would be good enough to be associated with the words of a genuinely talented writer and so I inevitably end up canning the whole thing.

I think essentially it comes down to a lack of practice and confidence (and probably talent), but it’s something I would like to get better at – I mean, it’s kind of an important part of having a book blog right? So does anyone have any advice or tips or words of encouragement for me?

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Categories: Book life

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10 replies »

  1. I feel exactly the same, it’s so tough sometimes. I find it especially difficult with the spoiler issue, so to be safe if there’s anything slightly spoilery I’ll put a warning at the beginning of the review then people can choose to read or not.

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  2. Before I start a review I always feel completely overwhelmed and think ‘what am I doing?!’ and there are reviews I’ve posted that I’ve just not been happy with. I think it’s because I don’t write professionally.

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  3. I totally feel the same way! Every time I think about the book reviews I have written in the past, I cringe. And every time I think about writing a new book review, I cringe. The hardest part for me is giving a brief summary of the book without giving everything away.

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  4. I’d say don’t live by rules, perceived or otherwise. You’re in control of your blog so you write reviews the way you want to! I completely understand the worries of “getting it right”. Some of my posts are pushing 1000 words for a single review while others barely go over 300, and I worry about that sometimes too. But either way, just do it! Because at the end of the day, you’ve still written and shared something and that’s the whole point, right? Good luck and keep writing!

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  5. I don’t think I’m in a position to offer any advice I’m afraid but for encouragement – I love your reviews and I have added many to titles to my TBR list as a result.

    Agh, the spoiler issue is such a minefield. Usually I want to gush about parts of the book I liked and moan about the parts I didn’t but I’m terrified of ruining it for anyone who might like to read it.

    However, my reviews would be pretty boring if I boiled them down to awesome/not awesome.

    Glad to hear so many bloggers seem to feel the same way.

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  6. Aww guys – now I need thesaurus.com to find more ways to say how awesome you all are. Thank you so much for the words of solidarity, encouragement and general loveliness – all of your comments are why I LOVE being a part of the blogging community.

    I’m going to struggle on with reviews, happy in the knowledge that I’m not alone… 🙂

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