On Book Reviews

I, personally, love book reviews.

When I first discovered Goodreads in ~2013, I remember being amazed that there was an entire community that reviewed books – and I immediately wanted to be a part of that. In the years since then, I’ve written almost 300 reviews, and they’ve made up the bulk of my posts on this blog.

For me, book reviews are a key way for me to decide if a book is worth prioritizing in my TBR pile. Whether it’s buying books at Indigo or figuring out which library books I should bring home, one of the first things I do is check Goodreads to see how my friends have rated it. If the ratings are high and the review is positive, that’s more than enough to convince me that it’s worth a read.

Book reviews seem to be less popular in the blogging world

I noticed, though, that while I read a lot of reviews on Goodreads, I don’t tend to read a lot of book reviews that are posted to book blogs. This was also reflected in my blog stats: discussion posts and weekly memes like Top Ten Tuesday had the most engagement, while book reviews were rarely interacted with. ARC reviews were a small exception to this, in that they generated more engagement compared to backlist titles.

Why is this?

On one hand, reviews are definitely a great way to learn more about a book and see if it’s a good fit for you to read. But if it’s a book that you had never heard of, you’re not likely to give it a second glance – which seems counter-intuitive to the book discovery portion of book blogging.

Book reviews also tend to be more analytical, since it’s reflecting upon what you read. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers tie in personal experiences to their reviews, but for the most part, reviews don’t teach you much about the blogger beyond tropes they like or dislike (unless, of course, they’re filled with snark).

Discussion posts and book tags let more of the blogger’s personality shine through, which makes them more relatable. Book blogging isn’t just about books, themselves, after all – it’s about people. One of my favourite parts about blogging has been getting to know other bloggers, and these more personal posts have helped a lot with making these connections!

I’ve been trying to leave more meaningful comments, and definitely find it easier to do this with discussion posts or book tags. That said, I’m definitely going to try to comment on more reviews now that I’ve noticed this, and I hope to discover a lot of new books in the process!

What are your thoughts on book reviews?

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  • Oh, that’s a great topic!
    I noticed I have read many more reviews back when I was only posting on GR but since I have a blog I focus more on interesting topics or lists of books. Why? I have no idea. I feel like book reviews are taken for granted and other posts seem more eye-catching?
    Or maybe on GR you just need to click ‘read more’ and if you don’t like it you just scroll through it. It’s harder to hook someone with a review of a book they don’t know enough for people to click the link?
    Or people just don’t know what to comment other than ‘Great review :)’ and try to avoid the awkwardness?
    That’s certainly interesting! 😀
    E. @localbeehuntersnook.home.blog recently posted…Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern // Or, A Love Letter to StorytellingMy Profile

    • I completely agree! I feel like people tend to gravitate towards things that are familiar, so reviews for books that they’ve never heard of probably won’t get a click. And it is so hard to know what to say on reviews, especially if it’s for one that you haven’t read — I’ve definitely been guilty of leaving the “Great review” before, haha

  • For most of my ARC reviews, I end up writing two reviews: one for the site I get the ARC from, which is what I share to sites like Amazon and Goodreads, and the other to my blog (I do them separately for SEO). My blog review tends to be more personal. I don’t get as many comments on my reviews, but I hope they’re helpful to some people. I don’t read a lot of reviews, but if I’m wondering about a book, I might read someone’s review to help me make a better choice. For me, the most helpful reviews are the ones where people describe the book in their own words, not copy the blurb from Amazon or Goodreads.
    Brooke Lorren recently posted…#AMMConnect!My Profile

    • I hadn’t thought about how reviews in multiple places could impact SEO! I definitely agree that reading reviews with new descriptions of the book are helpful – sometimes the cover blurbs are so vague or misleading, so having that extra level of detail is such a good way to know if a book is for you or not.

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