Points I Live by for How to Review Books

One post I never thought I’d write is how to write reviews. Yet here we are. Hi! This isn’t a real how to write reviews. I don’t believe in those. I think everyone can write a review without a how to guide as long as they practice and are willing to learn. However I see a lot of posts about how to reviews so I guess there is a need for them.

Below are some of the points I live by when it comes to reviews. I think they are more important than a set format or whether or not you should note take.

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titelThere is No Set Format

There isn’t. There never was and there never will be. If you like to write reviews in paragraphs, or bullet point or make a graphic to show the good and the bad, go for it. And if you like to switch it up, do it. If you don’t write a review in your own way it is never going to feel authentic to its readers. Or that is how that works for me.

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titelPeople Like to Hear About Plot, Characters and Writing Styles

While it doesn’t change what I write I keep in mind these three points. However if I have nothing to say about the writing style or plot things are too spoiler heavy, than I don’t or barely mention them. This goes hand in hand with the above. Don’t force yourself to say things about parts of the book where you don’t actually have anything to say about. You don’t have to say something about everything.

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titelDon’t Attack Authors Personally

I think that is one of the biggest no go as a reviewer. As much as you dislike a book it doesn’t nessecarily say anthing about the author itself. You can dislike a book, critique its contents without having to insult the author. In the end they worked very hard on it and even though you didn’t like it, you don’t have to shit all over it.

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titelAlways Mention If You Have Read an ARC

Or received a free finished copy from the publisher. It is important to state to be transparent. There has always been question about reviewers who take on free copies if that doesn’t influence our opinions. It doesn’t. It shouldn’t. But it is the one of the reasons why we have to say it.

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titelTrigger Warnings Are Important

Trigger warnings still seem to be controversial. Its a personal thing whether or not to use them in reviews. I personally use them as a tag point at the start of the review to sum it up before my review what goes on in the book. People can decide than straight away if something can trigger them and not even want to read the review. I think that is important. I’ve seen how things can trigger people in my direct surroundings. Even if trigger warnings don’t seem important to you personally it can be important to factor in how that might be for others and who you write your reviews for. Is it solely for yourself or do you also want to inform others? Important questions to ask yourself I think during the reviewing process as you begin.

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titelYou Can’t Do It Wrong, Not Really

As long as you are a decent human being there is no wrong going. Use common sense. It gets you a long way.

What kind of points do you always have in mind when writing reviews?

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titel(1)

16 thoughts on “Points I Live by for How to Review Books

  1. So much yes and amen to your first point! I get so tired of seeing posts about “proper” formatting or “professional” looking reviews. If I wanted see those I’d read industry periodical reviews. There are so many book blogs now, many reviewing the same books, that you have to have at least a little bit of a unique style. 👍✨

    My two biggest beefs are people who read Middle Grade and rate it low because they think it’s “childish”, or rate it excellent because it has graphic violence and/or sexual tension/romance like YA. And people who review books in a genre, or style, they don’t like and rate it low because it’s that genre or style. 😡

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Loved this post and agree completely! I used to wonder if my reviews were written correctly, then realized I didn’t really care. I’m not a professional, simply a book lover sharing my thoughts on the books I read. One question for you – what are ‘trigger warnings’? Not familiar with that term.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trigger warnings are warnings you put seperately mentioned in a review to tell other people what could possibly harm their mental heatlh like racism, suicide, extremely violenct situations, rape. Things like that. They aren’t there to warn people of reading a book but to warn people that they are in the book and the reader can choose what they want to do with that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like all of your points.

    I do have a bit of a set format though but not with the intention of looking professional but just because I like ‘decorating my articles. I always try to talk about certain elements in a specific order in my reviews as well; Intro, Synopsis, My thoughts on the book and then the conclusion/end. But that’s just because it feels right for me to do it this way. I like to have a certain layout – adding quote blocks and using image headers etc. But that’s just personal I think. I love using a lot of images/block quotes and formats in all of my articles and hope that I am recognizable because of the way I write down my articles. I don’t always mention as much of every element in a review; plot/characters/romance etc. It depends on how much there is to say for me and sometimes I switch it up a bit. It really depends on the book and what I want to say about it in general and the specific elements. I never push myself to write about things that I don’t already have an opinion about after reading it. My reviews come from the heart ❤

    I have written an article on why I more often than not also hate the 5 star rating system. I wrote this one months ago but since I've stopped blogging for a while, I hadn't had the chance to publish it yet. This is going online tomorrow – I have lots to say about that, lol. I do rate them on Goodreads, but I use the mentioning of the stars in my reviews on the blog less and less now. I just want to write down my thoughts on the book without having some number attached to it. It's the thoughts that count, seeing a lot of readers see the numbers in another daylight as I do. Example; to me, 3 stars is still a really okay read. I have remarks on the book, but there are definitely some enjoyable things about it as well. I'd still recommend reading the book. When others think 3 stars is a negative rating already. That's why I love using words more than that vast rating system. And then it's also quite frustrating that you can't even use half stars on GR for example so the gaps between ratings is often too huge imo.

    I always mention having gotten an arc. I do this to thank the author/publisher and to let my readers know; although I really don't let myself be influenced on the fact that I got a book for free. If I like , I'll say so and if I have remarks I'll mention those as well. But I always try to be respectful and if I have remarks, I also want to make sure to point out the positive things, if there are any, as well. And I then always mention, if I really didn't like it, that people should still give it a go if it looks interesting to them, seeing everyone's thoughts on a book can be vastly different.

    Personally attacking authors is a big no! I really don't understand why people do this, ugh. If I really don't like a book I tell why but I try to be respectful you know? It also happened that I've read different books by the same author and didn't really like all of them, which gets me to the conclusion of deciding to stop reading this author altogether. This author's writing just isn't for me then and I want to be honest about that. But again; remain respectful about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Definitely agree!! I used to try to make all of my reviews the same format but it just got so tiring and formulaic… more fun to write (and read) when you switch things up a bit and gear it towards the book instead of your own format! Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have my own format, lately I try to include trigger warnings. But it’s difficult sometimes when they aren’t mentioned at the beginning of the book. I try to write what comes to mind when I think about the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fantastic post! I agree with and abide with so much of it. There are a few things I might add… I dont write reviews of books I DNF and maybe add a little more about my personal thoughts around when I do and don’t tag authors in reviews. Personally I stopped using a star system because it just became too arbitrary but again these are all just personal to me.

    Having said that I think your post is timely relevant and extremely well done. I also think it is a huge help to new bloggers (I wish I had found something like this when I first started). I love that you said there isn’t one format. Not only is mine ever changing but it changes based on the book, what I want to say and how I want to say it. Sometimes it is ok to have fun with a review and sometimes it is definitely not ok!

    I also recently learned that people appreciate hearing when you have a personal connection to a book and how that changes or helps you connect with the story or characters etc… and authors appreciate it as well.

    I think the only other thing I’d say and this maybe goes back to format is definitely ask for and accept constructive criticism but dont let anyone tell you how to run your blog. As I go along I’ve become much more picky about the arcs I request which has led to many more positive reviews. So some will say I only or mostly write positive reviews. Nope. I just am more careful about my choices and don’t write DNFs. But there are low rates books. Just not many because I’m careful.

    Great discussion post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These are all really good points! Especially about there being no set format–you can really set it up however you are comfortable writing reviews. And I agree about personally attacking authors. I have read and reviewed some books that I absolutely HAAAATED but that doesn’t mean I am going to stoop to the level of calling the author names or saying horrible things about them. They could be a great person! I have nothing against that particular individual–I just do not like their writing or one of the projects they created. That doesn’t and shouldn’t equate to who they are as a person or make them a target for bullying!

    One of my tips for how to write reviews is just to make sure you are putting your own opinions and your own thoughts into it. I see soooo many reviews where the majority of the review is just a copy and pasted synopsis of the book from Goodreads or Amazon and then the whole review part of it just says “it was good” or “I didn’t like it” with very little expansion. But WHY? What, to you, made it good? What didn’t you like about it? To put out a review with just copy and pasted words and so little of your own take seems silly. If I’m at your blog, I’m there to see what YOU think!! Haha.

    Happy reviewing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love this reviewing is the scariest part of blogging for me! I don’t think I’ve posted a review in over a year but I’ve been meaning to get back to it.
    I’ve read tons of posts about formatting and “proper” reviews and this made me feel much better thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like the advice about focusing on characters, plot, and writing style. I think that’s a good way to start to explain how a review differs from a summary! It gives some concrete areas to discuss.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I honestly don’t think about it! I just type out my thoughts and see what happens, haha. Hopefully they make sense at the end. I do agree that it’s never okay to author-bash. You can dislike a book and still respect that someone spent a lot of time and energy to write it.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wil je geloven dat ik daar eigenlijk nog niet echt over heb nagedacht. Tijdens het lezen neem ik notities (pure noodzaak dankzij dat rampzalige geheugen van me) en nadien schrijf ik die uit op de computer en begin ik er mee te puzzelen tot ze een iets wat vlot leesbare weerspiegeling vormen van hoe ik het boek ervaren heb. Meestal is het een vrij klassieke bespreking over de schrijfstijl en hoe ik de personages ervaren heb maar soms is het ook in telegram-stijl en vermeld ik slechts drie korte punten die me zijn opgevallen.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is such a good post, and great advice! It took me a while to figure out my style to write reviews, and sometimes experimenting until it works is necessary. I think it’s sad that the whole “don’t attack authors” thing has to be said, but I see authors being held up on a pedestal a lot. It seems like a hard position to be in.

    Liked by 1 person

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