How do YOU Review?

I haven’t been at this book blogging lark for very long, not even a year yet, but it struck me today that we must all have different ways of collecting our thoughts of a book and of organising our reviews.  This thought came to me as I recalled the fact that I had neglected to review a book I’d read in the past month and now, I’d be pushed to remember what happened in the book or even any of the main characters’ names!  Now, some of you might say that it couldn’t have been a very good book but I did enjoy it at the time.  So, either I am still suffering from post-natal brain 7 years on or I should have made notes whilst reading or perhaps it was just one of those books which entertained me at the time but has since vanished into the ether of my brain to be replaced by more pressing concerns like “Is it PE day today and for whom?”, “Do we need more bananas?” and, even, “What day is it today?”.

So, how do you review books which you have read?  Do you leave them a while to cogitate, digest and mull over the themes?  Do you move straight onto the next book?  Do you make notes, copious or otherwise?  Do you, like me, intend to note down sections which made you gasp but haven’t the heart to turn down the corner of the page or have a handy supply of post its lurking nearby?  Do you review absolutely every book you read?   Do you spend a lot of time on your reviews? (I do as I want to get my message across clearly but I do tend to ramble on…as if you haven’t noticed!)  Would you consider reviewing a book which you did not finish?  That’s a definite no-no for me, silence about a book which I have read/failed to read is very telling.

So many questions and I hope some of you out there in the blogosphere will share your reviewing methods with me.  I have a sneaking feeling that my somewhat disorganised approach to reading and life in general might not be the norm amongst book bloggers.  However I do find it interesting to hear more about how others approach the reviewing process.  Thanking you in advance – (now, don’t go shaming me by not commenting!! ;-)

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  1. Yvann says:

    A good topic for discussion! I tend to post fairly quickly after I’ve read the book (a few days at most, now), or at least write the post quite soon after having read it, and if I schedule it for a later appearance, so be it.

    I separate the books I read into two very distinct categories – “fluff” which can be read quickly and where my review is going to be much more plot and character based, and “meaty”, where I will probably talk quite a bit about the quality of writing.

    I’ve taken to having a notebook nearby when I read, certainly the meaty books, because it helps me to put together a review that’s more than “good plot, fun characters, nice words”. I filled several pages of notes when I read Ian McEwan’s Solar and, more recently, Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger. Something in high quality writing brings out the obsessive note-taker in me. I went through a phase of carrying sticky tabs around with me but (a) I ended up putting them on every page and (b) I couldn’t remember what thought it was that I had wanted to remember.

    I try to review one book before I have finished the next, otherwise everything gets too mixed up. And yes, I review every book I read, good or bad, which is why my blog sometimes gets a bit negative about things. But as a reader I want some warning of what books out there are real stinkers, so I think that the occasional negative review isn’t too bad.


    this is only one approach and who am I to say that they are not all equally valid?

  2. Jessica says:

    I leave it a week or so before writing up a review and posting to collect my thoughts.

    Sometimes though I cant write up a review because I have forgotton large parts of the book but this doesn’t happen very often and some books are just like that.

  3. admin says:

    Plenty of food for thought there, Yvann. I think you are probably much more organised than I am plus I have a bad/good habit of feeling bereft without a book in my hand and feel the compulsion to lift up the next book almost immediately. Although, sometimes, if a book really gets to me, I need to stand back for a while and digest.

    Jessica, I wonder if the authors mind if we forget their books!

  4. Charlie says:

    I don’t always make notes but I generally find that writing a review is near impossible without them, because even though I like to write the review as soon as I’ve finished reading (gets it out of the way and while it’s still fresh) you can never remember all the little details. But yes, I write as soon as possible after having finished the book, which has made my new venture of reading two books at a time interesting because I know I’m not going to do the longer one justice. I usually proof-read my reviews a few times before posting them and I don’t review every book I read, though I’m trying to review more than not. I think reviewing every one gives too much pressure.

    So far since starting my blog I’ve finished all the books I started, I wouldn’t feel comfortable reviewing them unfinished.

  5. admin says:

    Charlie, I admire your ability to read two books at once! Do you read a non-fiction alongside a fiction book or perhaps two very different genres? The book I found impossible to review recently was one which I read on my laptop, an advance E Galley version and not being able to physically flick through the pages and get my thoughts in order seemed to hamper the reviewing process.

  6. Ceri says:

    What an interesting question to ask. I always take notes when reading a book and have a special notebook for it by the side of my bed. I read roughly a third of the book then jot down a sypnosis. While I’m reading, good descriptive words pop into my head that describe how I feel about the book perfectly but if I don’t write them down I would forget them straight away, that’s happened a few times and I’ve struggled to review afterwards! I then throw all thoughts together and write something that hopefully others will understand lol.

    I always have to review a book as soon as I’ve finished it as I tend to start reading another straight away and I would get the two confused or my thoughts would be directed to the new book rather than thinking about the other one. I tend to review the same day I have finished a book as well but in reality I should write a draft then go over it a day or so later too make sure it all makes sense!

    I’m new to the reviewing and have only recently (in the last 3 months) started doing every book I read. I do get stuck sometimes, I find it hard to explain my thoughts! While my reviews are not very good, I can see excellent improvement from my first few reviews to my last few.

  7. admin says:

    Hi Ceri and welcome to my world! I shall have to start taking notes now. I must admit that when I finish a book I usually jot down what I call “thought maps” which summarise the key parts of plot, themes, characters, my feelings etc. Then I have the task of bringing them together into some sort of lucid form which makes sense to others (hopefully). I’ve been reviewing books on RiSi for over 5 years now so I guess I should be a bit quicker at it by now but sometimes if it wasn’t a very enjoyable book the “words don’t come easily” (thanks to Tracy Chapman!). It’s a great way to keep the old brain working and Ceri, your reviews are good! Tx

  8. Violet says:

    I don’t see what I do as “reviewing” books. I just write down my thoughts on what I’ve read. I don’t keep notes, but I do mark the occasional passage that catches my attention, and which I might want to include in my post. I use sticky page markers for this and do not dog ear pages, which is a terrible, terrible crime!

    I tend to write about a book as soon as I finish it, and it’s a fairly spontaneous thing. I just sit down and type into the little white square whatever comes into my head. I don’t ever know what direction the post will take; I tend to work out my thoughts as I type. I check it over for obvious mistakes and then hit the publish button. I don’t like scheduling posts, because I want my thoughts to be spontaneous and hot off the press, as it were.

    I don’t write about the books I don’t finish, because there are a LOT of those. I have written about a couple of DNF books, but that was because I really did not get along with them at all, and I wanted to say why. If I don’t like a book I feel under no obligation to finish it. I probably read one out of every five books I start. I give them a try, and if I don’t like it, into the reject pile it goes! I usually read several books simultaneously, because I tend to get bored with just one, so I can go a while without having anything to post.

  9. lovelytreez says:

    Violet, your posts seem so well structured, you must have a very “tidy” mind to be able to do that off the the cuff. It’s interesting to see that you only finish one in five – hope you’ve got a large TBR! ;-)

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