Apparently, I’m on a roll with Let’s Chats about reviewing this month!
I thought a nice blogging-related topic would be talking about book reviews, in some sort of capacity. I talked about book reviews earlier this month (and was unexpectedly successful), but this month, I wanted to talk about HOW you should write book reviews. There’s always been a constant chatter about whether book reviews should be written as a subjective viewpoint or from an objective viewpoint, and even some talk about whether you should recommend a book you personally didn’t like.
I review subjectively. Mainly because I like to keep track of my own thoughts and opinions on a book, and I don’t believe that I should rate a book higher or lower depending on how the general public should receive it, but I know there are some people who think completely different on the subject. So, I thought it’d be nice to present some pros and cons for both – subjective and objective reviews.
1. People can know your accurate thoughts. I know that when I’m reading a review from a subjective viewpoint, it means I know the reviewer’s thoughts on the book. Not only that, but it means I learn more about the reviewer and their likes and dislikes, so I can recommend books to them I think they might like!
2. If you share the same opinions as that reviewer, it will help your decision. If I know that that reviewer has the same taste in books as I do or I just trust their reviews in general, then I know if I should spend my time and/or money on the book! It’s always nice to have people who have the same viewpoints in your Reader.
3. You can keep track of your own personal thoughts on books. I know it’s much better for me to keep track of my opinions on books if I talk about my feelings and ratings regarding them. How would I be able to know how I felt about books if I only rated and reviewed them from a critical standpoint?
1. They might be biased. I mean, duh. We’re all susceptible to our favorite tropes, a cool concept, or our favorite authors. I mean, do you think I’d be able to resist giving a Sarah J. Maas thriller novel or a V.E. Schwab magical realism novel five stars, whether they’re flawed or not? I don’t think so. I’m weak. We all are when it comes to our favorite things.
2. People might not trust your opinion. This could link back to point number one. If people know you’re biased against or for a certain author or trope or series, they might not be able to trust your opinion on that specific author or trope or series and turn to a more critical reviewer that will look at all sides.
3. We all see things differently. I mean, duh. Books are a form of art, and art is always open to interpretation, therefore all bookworms will see things differently. I mean, even for a hyped book that seems loved by everyone – like Six of Crows – there are still one-star reviews for it on Goodreads if you go looking out for them. So a book that you love might be the worst book to someone else, and subjective reviews might not help others. Not to mention that some books are more important to others than they would be to you, which might not help others either.
1. Your reviews aren’t biased. Again, another obvious one. I mentioned this point before earlier, but it’ll definitely help others if you’re not attached to a certain series or author to the point where you can’t give them less than five stars.
2. You can observe the book critically. This is always a good thing! I mean, it’s definitely nice to know that you have the ability to separate your personal feelings from reviewing something since it’s hard for SO MANY people to do that in not just reviewing books, but just all facets of life.
3. It will improve your general skills of taking things apart. I mean, this might not be as applicable to those who are already adults, but if you’re still in school, it’s always nice to develop a sort of skill for being able to observe things from a critical standpoint. I mean, I know I suck at reports in general, so this would be a big additional help.
1. You might not trust the reviewer. I mean, it’s a bit hard to be able to trust somebody if they say the only reason they like a book is because it’s objectively good. I can name lots of books that I think were good objectively, but I still absolutely hated them and gave them a one star, so it really means nothing to me in the long run.
2. It makes reading less fun. I’ve seen lots of people say that blogging has made them more critical regarding reviews, but it’ll probably be even worse once you start reviewing objectively. You’ll have to look at all the details, read carefully, find quotes backing up evidence, keep track of notes, etc. And, personally, I just read a book because I like reading, damn it! And it wouldn’t be fun to have to keep track of all my thoughts while doing that.
3. You’ll have unrealistic expectations for books. I know that when I often followed snarky reviewers on Goodreads, they often had these crazy high expectations for books sometimes, and I feel like we sometimes do, too. I mean, no matter what, there’s no such thing as an objectively perfect book, and it might ruin the fun of reading and reviewing if you have to examine every little flaw and can’t enjoy a book for what it is.
And those are just a few of the pros and cons I could think of!
We as book reviewers all have different opinions on how we should review, but I don’t think we should stress about it. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think people who review books owe anything to anyone – they can like and dislike any book they’d like, can rate a book the way they’d like to, or read a book however they want to – and they shouldn’t stop reviewing just because they don’t do a thing you don’t like (I’ve seen people say this and just…what???). Much like how authors don’t owe readers anything whatsoever; it’s their work at the end of the day.
So, it’s all up to you whether you review subjectively or objectively! Though I personally review subjectively, we are free to review however way we want to!
Do you review subjectively or objectively? Which type of review do you prefer reading? What are your thoughts about both?