Reviewing books does not come readily to me. It requires more effort than if I were to discuss a topic related to photography or share an unusual travel experience.

The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood03AB - ILFORD 400

For instance, I have to make notes. I don’t write in my books so I’d scribble on strips of paper to mark certain passages. Often I have to re-read several pages to recall why I had stuck bits of paper in a certain part of the book. I always research online to see what others have had to say about the book or to understand more about the subject matter.

I’m not part of a book club or literary community of any sorts. At best, I follow a handful of blogs dedicated to books because their authors’ taste are similar to mine. Most of the time, the book reviews that I write generate less comments and likes than other topics like travel and food.

Yet I persist in writing book reviews. Why do I bother?

  1. I tend to read too quickly. Reviewing books forces me to slow down and to reflect more as I note down my thoughts.
  2. Someone took months or even years to create a book that touched or affected me. Something that made me laugh and/or cry; inspired or bewildered me; prompted me to question what I take for granted or am unaware of. The least I can do is to spread the word about why this is a great book in the hope that it’d make a difference to someone else too. Plus it makes me happy when someone reads a book that I recommended and tells me later that he/she enjoyed it.
  3. Because writing a book review doesn’t come as readily to me as discussing photography, I welcome the challenge. I also think that this helps improve my writing.

What about you? If you review books, what motivates you to do so?

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14 replies on “Book reviews: Why bother?

  1. I often ask myself that as well!

    For me it’s about taking note of what I read. To sit and think after I’m done with a book. And especially if it’s a book that I like – in the hopes that others will read my posts and want to read those books too.

    1. I wish I have more time to read AND write down my thoughts after I’m done with a book. Reading what other people with some similar interests to myself have to say about certain books is great. So, thank you too!

  2. I admire you for reviewing books *in spite of* all the barriers and challenges you’ve listed! Although one of my friends is a professional reviewer (http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/books/) I’ve never had the self-confidence to critique a book. After all, what do I know about writing? But your framing it more from the perspective of “this is a great book” has changed my thinking. Perhaps I’ll give it a try! Thank you for the inspiration, Angelina!

    1. Hi Heather, I don’t read enough to do what your friend does either. And I suppose, it is not my intent to be a book critique either. Rather, it’s about sharing something good 🙂 Hope you’ll give it a shot at reviewing a book in the future!

      1. Ah! You make an excellent distinction, Angelina, which I missed the first time around: It’s something rather different to be a book critic than to simply recommend a good book, isn’t it? Excellent point! And in that spirit … I will begin working on my first “book review.” 🙂 Thank you!

  3. i just started blogging about books, mainly reviews so far, so i’m experiencing a brand new enthusiasm that i hope will last me a long time. i have always loved reading and sharing all that i found awesome (or terrible) in books, so i’m trying to translate that into the blog posts. it’s not to me to say if i got it right, to me it is more about having a personal exercise, to be a little more disciplined about the books i read, not forcing me to read and write, but trying to lock down some of those fleeting impressions that seem so intense when we are facing the page, and soon fada away when we close the book and put it down. blogging about it makes it last a little longer, in the ephimeral internet, and allows me to share it, with more people.
    the blog is a collaboration with friends from our book club, here is the link in case you might want to check it out http://unbridledenthusiasm.net/

    1. Thanks Jaie and hope that your unbridled enthusiasm will continue (and maybe even flourish)! I was just thinking that it’s kind of nice to use words to remember the feelings/thoughts that are evoked in us by printed words.

  4. Its hard to comment on book reviews, I find, unless I have also read the book. But I have bought books you reviewed and enjoyed them. Life is so chaotic at present I am reading in micro instalments. The photo is good – intense concentration in a relaxed way if that makes sense. A good book is good for the soul.

    1. Glad you’ve enjoyed those books! I know what you mean about reading in micro installments. I’d rather have huge blocks of time to read than to squeeze in a few pages here and there. Alas, work has been getting in the way of my reading as well as blogging of late.

      AB took that picture of me while we were in Changi Airport and waiting for a flight to Bali. And yes, agree that a good book is good for the soul!

  5. I think it’s because people respond by clicking the Like button most to visual posts. In book reviews there isn’t the same opportunity for instant gratification. Hence perhaps why those posts seem less popular. But I love to read book reviews, yours and others. I appreciate the thought and time that goes ii and the care it takes to put together a compelling argument.

    I wrote a negative review last year of The Goldfinch, simply because my anger at the book was so overwhelming. I hadn’t expected to feel that way. Everyone was raving about it. I was left completely confused. But it turned out to be one of last year’s most popular posts.

    1. You make a good point about visual posts driving an increased response. I’ve not read The Goldfinch though the name rings a bell. I’m not the most up to date with the hottest or best-selling books. But now I’m curious to see what the fuss about this book is about!

  6. Never tried to review a book, no idea where to start…hmmm already not enough time for this and that…but…
    …it could be an interesting exercise, at least to try once. Sometimes I also read to quick. When I was reading “84 Charing Cross Road” (thanks for your suggestions) I realized I was going to quick and in order to keep the lecture longer I decided first to read only 5 letter per day second next day to go back and read again the last four letters! In this waY I enjoyed the book for a longer time!
    robert

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