Friday, June 19, 2009

Reviews on Book Blogs...

What makes a review good? What do you think should a review be like?

Those are two of the questions that popped into my mind after watching the vlog of Trish from Hey Lady! Watcha Reading?, Natasha from Mawbooks, and Amy from My Friend Amy on why one shouls read book blogs.

I came to realize that I am trying to be as objective with my reviews as possible, sometimes I even leave out the "oh my goodness was this great", you know the moments when you're reading a really great book and your mouth gapes wide open with astonishment, the wide smile on your face because it is just so great that you can't do anything about it?

Now, I am studying literature and we're constantly told that we should leave the personal stuff out of reviews we're writing (for university) - and I'm not just talking about sentences with "I".

I have had a hard time with that in the past, but apparently, at one point I have taken over the "no personal references" position and am even using it when I review here on my blog. I am not sure I like this, as it is still a struggle and I find myself editing and re-editing my reviews until I hope my professors would at least to some degree be satisfied.

Now that doesn't mean I leave out my personal opinion of a book - then the whole reason for reviewing would be lost, wouldn't it? I do add my opinion, it's just not in the "I think" or "I felt" way.

Now when I read reviews, I enjoy the ones that are more personal a lot better actually, as I feel I get to know the reader behind the review, a person I haven't met and likely (and sadly) will never meet in person. I am not too much a fan of those reviews in newspapers or book magazines. I feel they don't say much else about the book other than what it is about and a bit about the author and some pompous talk about the writing that is not at all interesting or helpful.

Now, what do you think, what makes a review good? What do you think should a review be like?


  1. I like the more personal reviews--along with an objective description. Check out The Book Smugglers --they put a LOT of opinions in there, but the reviews are really fun to read. They always point out that the book had this or that and you might like those things. All in all, very objective also.

    I'm not sure their reviews would ever work for a newspaper because they are long and opinionated--but that is what makes them sometimes--quite hilarious.

  2. I like both. I don't write very many "personal" reviews, but they are definitely my personal opinion and thoughts. But I like reading reviews that have "I" in them too. I don't think there's a right or wrong way.

  3. I like to read most any kind of review, but when I write my own I try to think about the kinds of things I would say to someone who asked me what it was about and if I liked it. Kind of to help someone to decide if they want to take time to read it or not. Very different from college essays--I haven't had to write those for while!

  4. I prefer the more personal type of reviews. More like what you would tell a friend at a cocktail party (obviously a friend that is into books as you are ;o)) about a book. I find newspaper and magazine reviews too pedantic for my taste. They serve their purpose, I guess, but I don't read them because I don't enjoy them ;o).

  5. I like reviews with a personal touch, but that are very clear with what they liked or didn't like about a book. I think a review with a personal touch lets the reader get to know the reviewer a little bit. If you (as the reader) relate to the reviewer is saying, you have a better idea as to how you will react to the book. I'm still trying to find my "reviewing voice." So this is a good question to thing about.

  6. I tend to like more personal reviews also, but like Beth, I agree that there's no right or wrong way to write reviews (at least not when it comes to this issue). The important thing for me is to get a sense of whether the reviewer enjoyed the book or not and why.

  7. I tend to write personal reviews. But I am trying to get over that.

    I remember in high school my teachers would always tell me not to use terms like I. I really am trying to get into more academic writing style since I haven't done it in a long time and I feel that my writing ability is suffering for it.

  8. Thanks everyone for your input! I really appreciate it :-)