To Review or Not to Review?

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Picture me in boxers (okay, that sounds slightly creepy EXCESSIVELY CREEPY creepy) and tank top, hair tied in a man bun (is that what it’s called?), iced coffee in one hand, Scout in the other (yes, I named my phone after a To Kill a Mockingbird character I named my phone deal with it). (Wait. That’s one too many parentheses, wouldn’t you agree? Oh well. I guess I’m feeling parenthetically inclined today.) (Anyway.) The sun was beating the heck out of my hometown and I was perusing my Goodreads. I was comparing the counts of books-I-read-and-did-review with books-I-read-but-did-not-review when the question broke the surface: what brings one to review or not to review a book?

What are Words?
I do not review every book I read. At times, I just don’t have a strong opinion about the work to write a full article dissecting it. Other times—in very rare cases—I completely love the book but I’m at a lost for words. The right words. The collection of words that will impeccably be reflective of how I feel towards a piece of what-name-do-you-have-for-it-the-kind-printed-with-a-concoction-of-pulverized-emotion-brewed-tears-goofy-grins-and-pickled-hearts. Those novels are too special to capture with an agglomeration of adjectives and whatnots. So I don’t review them pronto. That doesn’t mean I will never review them. Just not today.

And then there are those that do end up getting reviewed. Disclaimer: I speak no rocket science, you may agree with me, but I haven’t formulated The Theory to rule them all. But in the years I’ve been doing this (both for books and films*), I realized the more I attempt to write a review, the more I make sense of what I thought and how I felt about the work in question. Observations and conclusions I would’ve otherwise not arrived at goes barreling towards me. It’s like opening the floodgates, everything just comes rushing out.

But does not reviewing make the experience less than it is?

Validating the Experience
I know people who are voracious readers but do not post reviews; they have neither blogs nor Goodreads accounts. And that’s fine, it really is. Not reviewing does NOT make the experience less than it is. It doesn’t make you less a reader, either. You can be a thoughtful, critical eater of books (if that’s what you’re shooting for) without writing reviews. And that’s fine.

So tell me: how often do you review your books? Or if you don’t, do you join the conversation?

*I used to review movies as well. You can read them here.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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40 thoughts on “To Review or Not to Review?

  1. If I can’t find the right words, I may not review—but I’d at least try. If I really hated the book, I may not review it if I felt it was okay-ish, but not enough to review. I tend to stick to extremes. Loved it, hated it. Maybe mixed feelings if I feel like it. I go by this, though: If I don’t feel like reviewing it, I won’t.


  2. I review books when I feel like it. I don’t want to pressure myself in giving a review to every single book I read because I’ll go crazy! But I usually have a paragraph or two to spare after reading. One thing I can’t do is write a negative review. And it’s not that I’m so goody-goody (though I am a bit hihi), I just don’t bother on giving one.


    1. Ooh. I didn’t consider this bit before but, yeaaah, I haven’t read a ranty review from The Quirky Reader! There’s a fantastic piece on Book Riot about this a year or two back. The contributor said it’s not that she likes every book she reads; it’s just that she’d rather talk about books she like/enjoy/love. And that’s such a beautiful thing to say!

      The one to two paragraph I understand. Although I’m more two to three sentences. This year, I made a commitment to leave something, anything, in Goodreads after every title.


  3. I review almost every single book I read, mostly because I’m not a fast reader. So, to keep up with the weekly review, I feel compelled to review most books. If I don’t have enough thoughts on it to write a full review, I write a mini-review. But before I started blogging, I never reviewed books, only rated them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yaaay Team Slow Reader! I’m almost tempted to write mini-reviews at certain moments. But I’m rather stiff when it comes to organizations and systems (it has to do with my self-diagnosed OCPD) so that always stops me. But I understand the urge! I range from 4 to 5 titles a months so that’s almost 1 book a week, and I want to at least publish 1 review every week.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I review every book that I read. I’ve never considered not writing a review for something, even if the book is “meh”. Now, to be fair, I do mostly series reviews so I’m not individually reviewing each book. So maybe that’s why I don’t find it so taxing because I’m not doing in-depth reviews of each book I read?

    You nailed it with the floodgates reference! I find that is especially true with books I didn’t enjoy. I pick out every little detail and grill it to death. I actually find it hard to write a review about something I really enjoyed because their is only so much illiterate fan-girling you can put into a blog post before people get annoyed 😉 More probable is the fact that I don’t like to put spoilers in my reviews so it’s hard to say how awesome this one scene is without giving said scene.



      I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to talk about specific scenes in my reviews, but there’s the constant consideration for readers visiting the blog. That always comes first. Because I hate spoilers myself, so I’d be loathe to drop one without fair warning. Mostly, I just want to avoid them altogether in a review if I can manage.

      As for reviewing, I haven’t written a review for a whole series. But I can see how that’s much easier? It’s the same case (or almost) with mini reviews, isn’t it?

      Thank you for adding your voice to the conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never written mini reviews but I imagine that it is the same. When I write my series reviews I mostly focus on the first book and comment whether or not the sequels have the same format when it comes to characters/romance/etc. I find I’m not very detail oriented because I don’t want spoilers (especially for the sequel books) so my comments on the sequels are only a few sentences instead of a full blown review.


  5. I end up not being able to review books I love and books that mean so much to me because WHERE ARE THE WORDS? I’m no good writer and I feel like I could never find the right words to convey how much these books changed me or made me feel. Which is such a waste in my opinion because PEOPLE WOULDN’T KNOW THE BOOKS I LOVE WHEN THEY VISIT MY BLOG. That’s one of the top things that stresses me out with my blog. Because when I see it through someone’s eyes, I don’t see someone who loves Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Plus One by Elizabeth Fama, The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, etc (end of thinking capacity).

    So now, I’m trying to review everything I read, even just mini-reviews. And I’d like to think I haven’t reviewed these books but I will one day (many one days) and champion it in my own way. For now, I guess I’d have to re-read them so I can review them sooner.


    1. OH, D, I FEEL YOU! I do, however, think you’re doing fairly well with your ranty reviews? 🙂 But wait. I sang praises for ATBP! Gaaah. The Blue Hole scene! (There’s no amount of pancakes to permanently fix me after that encounter! Just saying.) And oh! You gave me an idea! I reviewed most of the books in my will-always-love shelf back when I was on Tumblr. I guess I can reread them and write a (much better) review for Bookish and Awesome!


  6. This is absolutely true! I review very rarely — I basically give each book a star rating on Goodreads after reading it, and that’s about it. I only review if I feel strongly about it and I have the words to say my thoughts, like you’ve mentioned. I mean, I loved Simon Vs, but it was a contemporary and I couldn’t do it justice in a review. Or if it’s an older book, I often don’t have the same drive to share my thoughts with others.


    1. Alyssa. Keep bringing up Simon vs in every conversation we have. It makes me smile. 🙂

      By older book, do you mean the classics? ‘Cause I find them harder to review! Like, it’s almost you’re arguing with the world. Or something. As for Goodreads, I try to write a sentence or two after every book I finish and, so far, I’m having success. Question: do you tend to write more driven by negative emotion or positive?


  7. It’s so cool that you discussed this…because this has been on my mind for a while now. I have to admit, I always tend to read books that come to me for review before books that I want to read. But I read your post and then I went back to my archives (both Blog and Goodreads archives) and noticed that, like you, I tend not to delve into too much detail about books that I can’t talk about at all–regardless of whether they’re ARCs.

    But then I wonder how people will know what I feel like about certain books IF I DON’T TELL THEM ABOUT IT. So, I make it a point to link these small, irrelevant Goodreads reviews in my monthly wrap up blog posts. Honestly, it just feels weird to me if I only rate a book on Goodreads and leave the review section blank. I try to write at least a sentence or two about whether or not I liked the book and why.


    1. Rhea. Aren’t we related or something? We seem to be thinking in unison lately. (Well, except the matter with The Witch Hunter.)

      I’ve started doing what you do in Goodreads this year! Coz, like, before it’s either I write a full review or nothing at all. For the most part, I find this helpful when I have to recall how I felt about a certain title. But also it’s a way of joining in on the conversation.

      As for ARCs, since I live in the PH, I mostly rely on digital copies. And, darn it, I’m so bad at keeping at it! It’s not even funny. I feel guilty sometimes when an e-ARC expires. But I’m just not really good at e-books in general. Question: do you review every ARC you request/receive?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly? I’d be happy to be related to you ;P Do I review every ARC I have? I try, most definitely. I try my very best to review all the ARCs I get because it makes me feel like crap if I don’t. I’m from India, so again, no print ARCs for me either. But damn, now that I think about it, if I got print ARCs and never reviewed them (knowing how expensive it is for the publisher to print them) I would choke with guilt. As for books that I really didn’t like, or didn’t end up finishing or something of the sort, I try to tell the publisher why exactly I didn’t finish the book.


      2. That is such a nice thing to say, thank you! 🙂

        Yeah, I feel you about physical ARCs. *Punches something.* I haven’t DNFed a book by choice so far (I DNFed two titles coz the e-ARCs expired. OOPS). But it’s thoughtful of you to reach out to publishers and explain why you didn’t post a review. That shows you’re respectful and professional. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t review every book I read. I sometimes find it hard to put my thoughts into words on some books, but like you mentioned when I do sit down and try writing sometimes I end up rethinking the whole plot, characters, ending, etc and come to a better decision about how I feel about the book. So – perhaps it’s wise to try to write a review so you can reflect on it and enjoy it more?!?


  9. Love this discussion, Miel! I’m very terrible at writing reviews, actually. When I do attempt them- it takes me so long to come up with a decent commentary on the book. So I don’t review every book I read, just the ones I need to and have many thoughts to share on. Other times, I have too many feels about the book but just no words. So I know what you mean on how it’s sometimes really hard to capture how you felt about a book, especially one that’s special to your heart.

    And man-buns? Really?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aaaah, thank you Haze! Um, yeah, I think we brushed slightly over this last MIBF? And also, when I asked you if you’ve read Fangirl because you don’t have a review posted on your blog. It is very easy to get lost in words, especially if it’s a book that means so much to you.

      As for the man-buns, only when my hair grows too long and it’s hot and I’m too lazy to have a haircut. Haha!


  10. I absolutely loved the last paragraph of this post, and I totally agree! 🙂 That aside, I’m actually one of those people who review everything they read, but not really as validation, but more of as… my personal journal, I guess. I forget things VERY easily and I use reviews as a means to remember details. And for some strange reason, I seem to have strong opinions about everything I read…

    (Ps. Thanks for the mental picture of you in boxers.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Aimee! I seem to forget things easily nowadays, too. So I can totally relate. And that is actually why I started writing something, anything, on Goodreads after I finish a book. Some don’t end up transitioning to full reviews but, like you, at least I have something to look back to in the future. And you go for having strong opinions about everything you read! Brava!

      PS. Now I feel embarrassed. Oh gods.


  11. This is an interesting topic. I read a quite a few books a year so I can’t possibly review all of them, although I do try! Usually I’ll only review a book if I have a strong opinion on it, or if it was a review copy from the publisher. I do try to leave at least a one liner on most of my Goodreads books though, although I don’t always manage. Great post!


  12. I review every book I read nowadays. When I just started reviewing I only reviewed some and I am not totaly sure how I decided which one’s to review and which not. Nowadays I feel that to have the complete experience I need to review the book, reviewing the book has become part of my reading experience. I read the book, I review it and only then start a new book. I think for me reviewing is part of the experience and makes it better, but that’s because it would just feel weird not to review a book for me and because it has become such a strogn habbit.
    I also know avid readers who don’t review books, like my sister and when I talk with them they still have a lot of opinions about the book, they just don’t need to review it. I think it’s mostly a personal choice and doing what works for you. I can also understand why peopel don’t review every book they read.


    1. Wow. Thank you Lola! I so can relate to the “part of my reading experience” even if I don’t review every single title I read. Coz, like, for the ones I review, the reviewing part is such a revealing stage of how I really felt about the book and there’s always good to be had at that. I think our journey is in reverse tho. When I started, I review almost every single book. Now, not so much.


  13. I don’t review all of the books I read. Basically, you summed it up pretty well for you and me both. And I definitely feel the same in that I understand certain concepts of the story better when I start to write about it in a review, and I really enjoy that aspect of reviewing- understanding things I mightn’t have thought about without delving deeper into the story with pen and paper and an awaiting blog. I definitely don’t think it makes the book less important or takes away from the experience. For me, most of the time, reviewing a book heightens the experience and makes it all the more memorable, because I have recorded how I felt and gone deeper into the story than I otherwise might. Saying that, though, I’ve never reviewed my all time favourite books/series, because I don’t have words to describe them. I can squee and write gorgeous fifty times, but it doesn’t quite feel enough, and I guess I just understand without even needing to think about it that sometimes you can’t get the words onto paper to describe the things you love the very most.

    This post got me thinking, and I love discussions that make me think- I analysed my reviewing thoughts in a way I had only done briefly, and it was fun. Thanks and excellent post! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This will sound lame but, yes yes yes YES! Thank you, Romi, for adding in your voice in the conversation! Naturally, I suck at long comments but THANK YOU for taking the time expressing yourself. This means a great deal to me! 🙂 And, yeah, reviewing heightens the experience. It’s only a bonus for those who want it; no one has to feel they’re missing out on something by not reviewing. Might I ask, what are some of your favorites that you can’t find the words for?


      1. Ah, a few of them would be My Family and Other Animals, I think The Princess Bride, The Book Thief, The Hunger Games series, and Harry Potter. (:


  14. I pretty much review everything received for review, but it’s a very rare occasion that I review something I bought for myself, or borrowed. I don’t know why – unless I have a REALLY strong opinion about a particular book and want to tell the world about it, I just won’t review it. I want to say it kind of feels like ‘too much work’ but… blogging IS hard work.

    I guess I have to separate the ‘review books’ from the ‘non-review books’ to make sure that reading stays enjoyable. Sometimes I get sick of pausing my reading to make notes before I forget the points I want to make.


    1. I can relate! Sometimes drafting and editing reviews take so much time away from my reading hours that it irks me highly! But I’m also intrigued with what you said, about the books you bought. Do you not review them because you don’t want the experience to be “less enjoyable” or just because you don’t have a strong opinion about the titles? And thank you for leaving a comment!


      1. Sometimes when I’m taking notes for reviews, which I have to do whilst reading, it can sort of lessen the experience, if that makes sense? Like I have to keep stopping to note stuff down. So when I’m not reviewing a book, it’s kind of a relief to not have to pause every so often. This doesn’t apply to every book I review, but definitely some of them. However, I do find that with the books I have the strongest opinion about I am often able to just write a review off the top of my hand without notes.


  15. Sometimes, when I have HEAPS of ARCs and review copies, I’m much less likely to review the books I read just for “me”. I feel kind of reviewed out.

    And sometimes I just don’t really have any particular thoughts on a book that I think are worth sharing. There is also the rare case of: I love this book so much my words would not do it justice, but those instances are pretty few and far between.

    Sometimes I also like reading just for the sake of reading, without doing any kind of analytical thinking while I do it. Like I did back in “the old days” before reviewing. It’s quite refreshing to read for the sake of reading, with no desire or pressure to write a review.

    But then there are also the times when I am super keen to write a review and share my love for a book ;D


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