The world of books is never boring. Every week (well, most weeks) I'll discuss a different topic related to books, often inspired by or in response to what's going on in the online book community (or something I've seen another blogger talk about). I call this Book Thoughts on Thursday. Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, or even write your own post on the topic and share the link with me!
I feel like every second week someone in the blogging community is talking about how no one reads book reviews. Some book bloggers have gone so far as to stop posting them or to only write mini-reviews, claiming that they take too much time to write and don't get read anyway.
I get that. I really do. I don't get as many comments on book reviews, and while there's some wide variation (one of my top three most-viewed posts of all time is a book review), on average the reviews aren't the most popular content on my blog.
But here's why I still think they're worthwhile.
They're a great way to process my feelings about a book and to make a record of my reaction.
I don't know about you guys, but my memory ain't what it used to be. I mean, I'm not super old yet, but there are times I'll be reading a book and a character will be re-introduced that hasn't been around for a chapter or two, and I'll go completely blank. Sometimes I don't even remember seeing the name earlier in the book. Once a year or two has passed since I read a book, I don't feel equipped to have any in-depth conversations about its characters or minor plot points - a situation I imagine will only get worse with time. The process of writing reviews helps me work through my feelings while they're fresh - and gives me something to go back to later.
Sometimes the reaction I get to a review surprises me.
Occasionally I'll post a review expecting the typical number of views and one or no comments, and for some reason it gets a lot more attention. It may even lead to an interesting exchange of opinions and commentary - which is kind of why we all got into book blogging in the first place! Even better is when someone says they're going to read a book based on my review - there's no greater feeling than knowing you've shared an amazing reading experience and that someone else gets to enjoy it because of your review.
Initial stats aren't necessarily accurate measures of a review's value on your blog.
For most posts, you get the highest amount of interest when they're first published - your subscribers are seeing them in feeds and their inboxes, you're sharing them on social media, and if it's a link-up, other bloggers are stopping by to share comments and link back to their own posts on the topic.
But for reviews, this isn't always the case. Sometimes you'll post a review to a small readership, but it'll get a later surge of views for one of many reasons: the author's public profile suddenly became more visible (maybe they got an award or published a new book), the next book in the series was published, or the book has just been adapted to film or released at theatres.
Reviews are also more likely to be bookmarked and returned to. I can't even tell you the number of times I've skipped reading a review for a book I'm either currently reading or haven't gotten to yet, only to go back once I've read the book to compare notes. Reviews are also the posts I'm most likely to peruse when exploring a new-to-me blog or even just spending some time checking if I've missed anything on a favourite blog. I'll look through lists for titles I recognize - either books I've read recently or am interested in finding out more about. I feel like reviews are some of the most long-lived content you can post.
I still read reviews, so I still write reviews.
Sure, there are reviews I skip. If it's a book I know I'm not interested in, I won't bother clicking on the email or opening the link. Other times a quick glance at the book's synopsis, the reviewer's rating or even just an unappealing cover will make me move on. But for every review I skip, there's one I do read - and thoroughly enjoy. There's not much I enjoy more in the blogging world than hearing what someone thought of a book and sharing my opinions, or finding out about a new book to add to my TBR.
Then there are the bloggers whose opinions I hold in extremely high regard. These are bloggers I've interacted with, who have similar tastes in books to my own, and whose reviews are usually thoughtful, well-written and spoiler-free. It's rare that I'll skip a review posted by one of these favourite bloggers, and more often than not, if they positively review a book, I'll order it. This is one of the main ways I discover new books, as a matter of fact. I'm far more likely to trust the opinion of someone I know has great taste over an average rating on Goodreads or a bookseller website.
I get that reviews don't always feel worth the time spent writing them. But the more I read about bloggers giving up book reviews, the sadder I become. I love having a whole library of reviews I haven't yet read to check out in a bored moment. I love being able to go back to my favourite blogs when I've read a book and finding out how my blogger friends felt about it. And I love sharing my own enthusiasm in comments on my own and others' reviews.
Of course I wouldn't want a blogger to write content they hate writing, but I do hope that many find enough enjoyment in doing so to continue. I'll be reading!
What I want to ask you is: What do you think of reviews? Do you still read them? Do you enjoy the ones you do read? Are you keeping up with writing them? Would you miss them if bloggers stopped posting them? I'd love to hear your answers in the comments!