On Reviewing Books

There has been a lot of discussion on the book blogosphere recently about the purpose of writing reviews (and why we should continue to LOVE it!) and whether writing reviews is something that needs to be done to be considered part of the community. I suppose this post is a response to a whole host of blog posts that I’ve read recently, and there will be a little appendix at the end for those that haven’t read these posts yet. So here are my thoughts on the topic:

Reading and reviewing are basically my only hobbies. I write and I also love filming and editing videos for our booktube channel, but other than that I spend the majority of my time reading (when I’m not revising or panicking for exams, of course.) My hobbies revolve around sharing my love of books and trying to write my own! And I read a lot of books. Maddie and I always get asked how we manage to read so much so we made a video entitled How To Read More where we tried to explain it, but really it’s a simple as reading is my whole life.  You’ve heard of stress eating, right? Well I stress read. I read when I get all freaked out about the future (aka exams), when I’m feeling frustrated or upset, when I’m happy, excited – any time and all the time.

So naturally I have a lot of book reviews to write. Around December 2014 we decided that we wanted to try and post everyday, and somehow we’ve managed to do that for the past four-ish months. I know, crazy! But when it comes to writing reviews, sometimes I find myself putting them off, because I just want to get on to reading something new. I almost feel obligated to review all the books I read, because I’ve set a precedent that I need to be posting something everyday. I may be an insanely dedicated reader, but I do have a life outside of reading (which extends to school work and seeing my best friend Stacks of Sarah, like, twice a week.)

Heart Full of Books has a NetGalley account, which is pretty much where we receive the majority of awesome books we review. Undoubtedly, NetGalley has given us some really greats reads – and some not so great ones – but there always seems to be a time limit on them. Especially for ARCs, because you have to get your review ready for publication. (Not a hard and fast rule, but one I pretty much stick to.) We’re also bloggers that will happily review self-published or small authors, examples being Branded, and Rite of Rejection. Recently, we’ve been getting a lot more requests from independent authors to read their books, which is super great because I think it’s important to promote unknown authors as much as it is to rave about new releases from bestselling authors. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I love working to deadlines for things like blog tours, but other times it can be a real hassle.

Our main content on this blog is book reviews, although we do have a Wider Reading page for our non reviews. This is because we’re predominantly YouTubers, with our blog working as a complimentary site to our channel, rather than the other way around. Therefore, the majority of our discussions and topical ideas are posted in video format. I think generally reviews are the least viewed content on both platforms. We give minor reviews in our monthly wrap-up videos and that’s pretty much it, because, realistically, I don’t think people want to dedicate more than 1-2 minutes watching a book review, especially for something they haven’t read. And so reviews are put on our blog, because it’s a lot quicker to read a written review than watch an eight minute long video review of a book that, at the end of the day, you might not even enjoy.

I will never stop writing reviews. Even if I have to work to deadlines, or if my review takes an hour to write(!) because when I’ve finished, I’m really happy with what I’ve written. I’m proud of every post on this blog, even if some of them took longer to write than it took to actually read the book!

I don’t write reviews for anyone except myself, because I get such a kick out of it! So I don’t really care if my reviews are only seen by two people. Maybe my review impacted how they saw the book, or whether or not they’re going to pick it up. Really, no matter how much effort it takes to upkeep a blog, I’m going to continue, because sharing your opinions matters more!

If you have written something similar on the topic, feel free to share it in the comments so I can add it to the Appendix!

Appendix

1. Queen of Contemporary announces she’ll no longer be writing reviews.
2. Thirst for Fiction explains why book blogging is hella great.
3. Writing From The Tub writes about publishing houses and deadlines.
4. Author Anthony McGowen’s misinformed tweet rant about book bloggers.
5. Day Dreamer’s Thoughts on…Book Blogging.

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