The author Shannon Hale in her blog has posed quite a few interesting questions to book bloggers. And I felt it is really worth while for me to look deeper into my motivations and thoughts when I review books.
I have attempted to respond to her questions here.
- Do you find that the anticipation of reviewing the book has changed your reading experience?
To a certain extent, that’s true. Before book blogging, I never thought too deeply about a book. Read them and forgot most of them. Now, I use my blog to track, document what I thought, and hopefully help blog readers decide their reading choices.
I do prefer to pick up books without reading too many reviews. I find that I respond more honestly to the book. If a book is all over the blogosphere, I sometimes feel I know too much about the book and it kills the suspense and enjoyment for me. So, I deliberately try to read more books that fly under the radar, so to speak. For example, I have deliberately distanced myself from the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series, and the Suzanne Collins books primarily because I have seen them around the blogosphere so much, I have overdosed on them. I will probably get around to them a little later when all the hype has died down, and I have forgotten what these books are about.
- Are you rating the book even as you read? Or do you wait until the end to sum it all up?
I do start rating/reviewing the book mentally as I read it. But, my rating varies throughout the book, until I finish it. Once I complete the book, I am ready to give it a rating that reflects the overall quality of the book.
- Does knowing you’ll be reviewing it (or rating it) publicly affect which books you pick up in the first place?
Not at all. I pick books based on my mood and interest. I don’t care if it is particularly blogworthy or a “hot” book in the blogosphere. Book blogging does push me to read more books though, and sometimes I almost feel pressured to complete “x” number of books within a month; especially when I read large number of posts by very quick readers.
I do make an effort not to give in to the pressure to have a book review every week. I also make an effort not to pick up very light-weight novels just for the sake of being able to blog about it within a couple of days. Quality and variety of books is uppermost on my mind, rather than quantity.
- Does the process of writing the review itself change how you felt about the book?
Sometimes, yes. When I am writing a review, I go back to different sections of the book that I liked or hated while reading it. Relooking at the section after completing the book, sometimes I feel differently about it.
- What is your motivation to assign a rating to a book and declare it to the world?
I don’t attach too much importance to ratings. But, I do still rate my books because if someone just wants a quick picture of whether the book works or not, they can use the rating. I have separated my rating from the review however. I have a book page that lists the books I have read along with the rating. If interested, readers can click on the book link and read the entire review.
I must admit that deciding on a rating for the book is very hard. I try to ignore the feelings of whether I liked or disliked the novel; but try to aim for how much the author has actually reached his goal for what he is trying to say through the book. I may personally not like a book too much; but if it makes me think, and if the writing and the scene setting is first-class, it will get a good rating.
I don’t take other people’s book ratings too seriously. Many times so many highly rated books turn out to be clunkers for me. I try to follow my instincts when I choose my books.
- If you review a book but don’t rate, why not? What do you feel is your role as reviewer? I’m very curious about all this and hope you feel free to speak freely (and kindly and respectfully, of course) even if you disagree with me.
I always rate a book – simply because I like consistency and neatness. It feels disrespectful somehow to rate one book and leave another unrated.
At times, I have rated a book without reviewing them. This is purely because of lack of time, or when I couldn’t really think of anything meaningful or unique to say about the book.
I am not sure that I take up my role as a reviewer too seriously. I feel I am still an amateur book blogger. However, I do try to read all kinds of books and give an honest opinion on them. And hopefully, blog readers find them useful and entertaining.
What are your thoughts on book blogging, rating, and reviewing? I would love to know how you feel…