Discussion Post: Why Do I Write Mostly Positive Reviews?

If you’ve been following me for a while, it will come as no surprise to you that I rate books no less than 3 stars. It’s a decision I came to when I started my book blog and I’ve stuck to it till this day. It’s quite complicated to explain it to others because a lot of reviewers are more critical than I am. I do appreciate people who have the skill to tear apart a book and explain why they hated it so much along with quotes to support their views. I really enjoy seeing people so passionate about books that their reviews turn into rants sometimes. My favourite blogger of all time, Cait @ Paper Fury, writes the most humorous reviews I’ve ever read even though she might rate the book 1-2 stars. In this post I want to explain my process and why I personally prefer to write mostly positive reviews.

Discussion_ Positive Reviews

1. Not every book may work for me but is probably someone else’s favourite

This is my main reason for not writing reviews with a vengeance. When I don’t like a book, unless there is problematic content in it, I try to word my reviews as ‘this didn’t work for me, but people who enjoy XYZ may like this’. The bookish community is made up of people with many different reading tastes. My own doesn’t coincide with those of my bookish best friends, but that’s quite alright because not everyone can enjoy a particular book. Since I’m also a moody reader, there’s the added factor that I may have picked up the book at the wrong time. I don’t think that my personal bias should deter anyone from giving it a try, so I rate it an average 3 stars even if I didn’t enjoy it and I explain my reasons in my review while also trying to be objective.

Case in point: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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2. Authors put a lot of hard work into crafting a book and I want to respect that

Here I’m not referring to those books that are put together with little or no research for no purpose other than to mint money. I want to talk about those authors who pour their heart out into their book and have given their best shot. Granted, not everyone can write the most technically well-crafted book, especially not in their first try. However, as I’ve done my fair shar of writing too, I fully understand how hard it is to finish a book. I don’t want to discredit everything an author has worked so much for by writing a scathing review. Whenever I receive a book that isn’t one of those that everyone is talking about, I take extra care and consider my review carefully because my rating and review might make the difference between its, and consequently the author’s, failure or success. I don’t mean to say that I’ll write an artificially glowing review, but my process is to give it 3 stars on Goodreads so it doesn’t hurt the book’s sales and clearly state what I liked and disliked about the book in my review. Even if I really disliked the book, I try to find at least one positive thing to say and recommend it to people who I think will like it better than I did. For example, a story filled with clichés may not work for me as I’ve read a lot of books and have seen that narrative before, but a beginner might stumble upon it and love it to bits.

Case in point: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

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3. I hope to provide a balanced and unbiased perspective

I feel like reviewing a book has two parts to it – a personal one where I talk about how I felt reading the book and a technical one where the plot, writing style (in terms of grammar, sentence construction, etc.), world building and character development is discussed. While I usually rate a book based on how much I’ve enjoyed it, 3 being ‘Average’ and 5 being ‘I really enjoyed it’, I tend to elaborate on the technical weak points as well as mention if it might offend/trigger someone in my reviews because they may not apply to me personally. This is also precisely why I can’t review my favourite books such as The Lord of the Rings because I can’t objectively put my views across.

Case in point: Faint Promise of Rain by Anjali Mitter Duva

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4. I like to be respectful, polite and positive

You may or may not have noticed but I don’t use any cuss words or harsh language or type in all caps if I’m not pleased with something. I write my reviews with a sense of detachment no matter how passionately I might love or hate the book. I also like to colour everything with a tinge of positivity online because there’s enough drama online as it is without me adding to it. Also, I think reviewing professionally comes with its own decorum and expectations. I’d like to picture myself as being a professional although I might be far from that and live by those rules. I don’t DNF books if I’m asked to review them out of courtesy as well, although not many might agree with me on this one.

Case in point: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

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5. I’ve honed this unique reviewing style after a lot of iterations and I’m very happy with it

Lastly, of course, is personal satisfaction. The way I review fits my morals, principles and current worldview. It gives me creative freedom while also making it structured enough for me to work with. I’ve developed this through a few years of reviewing and I’m finally comfortable with how I’m doing it now. Perhaps my views may change in the future and I might look back on this post and think about how naïve I was. However, this is what is clicking with me at the moment and I’m immensely grateful for all the little opportunities that have brought me to this stage.

Case in point:  In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle (Old review) | To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (New review)


Here are some of my favourite reviewers who write nothing like me but I enjoy their content so very much!

Simant @ Flipping Through the Pages – detailed and well-planned

Briana and Krysta @ Pages Unbound – analytical and well-rounded

Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch – unapologetic and funny


Comments

How would you describe your style of reviewing? Do you do anything different for the books you need to review as opposed to those you read for pleasure? Whose reviews are you inspired by? Let me know in the comments section below or, better yet, answer me in a post and tag me so I can read it!

57 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Why Do I Write Mostly Positive Reviews?

  1. This is such an interesting discussion, I loved it! Now that I think about it, I can’t recall the time when I posted a review for a book that was less than 3-stars on my blog. I think that’s just the way I do it, too, and I don’t know, I feel like maybe I’m lucky and know my taste quite well enough to pick up books I really enjoy? 😂 I feel lucky that way. That being said I really love all of your points here and I agree with everything, especially the fact that a book might not be for you, but it can be for someone else. I always try to recommend a book even if it was just a medium read for me, to other readers who might enjoy certain aspects of it all a bit more than I did, and I am always sure there are 🙂
    Lovely post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Marie! 😊
      I’m much the same way too because I like to make an informed decision before I pick up a book. I not only see the blurb but also read spoiler-free reviews from people I trust if they’ve read them and consider my mood before jumping on my next read so I can give the book its best chance to impress me. 😅
      I’m so glad we have this in common! I haven’t met many reviewers who follow a similar process and it feels really good not to be alone. Thank you for your comment! It means so much to me. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly, I’m the same way! I review books usually no less than 3 stars! A lot of your points are close to mine too, but for me a big one is that I know what kind of books I like & that’s why my reviews end up being pretty positive! ^_^ Really loved reading this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh gosh I totally forgot to add that point. It’s the same way with me. I only pick up books that really interest me and I put a lot of thought into picking my next read. I’m so glad to meet someone similar! ❤ Thank you so much for commenting! It means a lot to me that you agree with me points. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re probably one of the people I respect the most in this community and that respect just skyrocketed. Thank you for sharing this. It gives me quite a bit of perspective and understanding in multiple ways. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neha, you’re too kind! 😊 I’m glad this helped you gain a fresh perspective. I love that my blog posts are being appreciated by someone I have a lot of respect for too and it inspires me to do better each time. Thank you for your comment! It means the world to me. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 😁 I’m just thinking of all those books I rate under 3 stars… It’s definitely good points – especially with the second point – that authors spend so much time writing the books. I can’t seem to write reviews without putting my voice in it – which means all caps and the often Afrikaans term 😁

    But that’s what I love about following a lot of bloggers – seeing all their different reviewing styles and how they create their blogging style.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t feel badly about writing negative reviews because I think they can be done respectfully (by discussing the work rather than insulting the author) and because I think reviews are for readers and not authors. (And, in theory, no author is reading my blog, anyway, so hopefully no one will be sad.)

    I understand a lot of bloggers want to be positive to respect the hard work of an author. But I know personally that I can work really, really hard on something and have it turn out a mess. (Witness: several recent crafting projects.) I don’t see admitting that something didn’t turn out well as an indictment of the person or their work. Rather, I think admitting that something could be improved is the first step to becoming better and someone else offering a critique, even if negative, can be a sign of respect.

    However, I also respect all the positive reviewers out there. I think many people,including myself, appreciate spaces where things are upbeat and positive since that seems increasingly rare!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I completely understand your perspective. I welcome critique too and sometimes I think that reading a negative review makes me re-examine my own thoughts about a book I might have enjoyed immensely. I also read a mix of praise and critique for a book before deciding whether I want to read it or not. I feel like I’ve dodged a bullet when a reviewer I trust gives a negative review of a book I’d been considering putting on my TBR.

      You make some excellent points, Krysta! Thank you for your comment. 🙂

      Like

  6. You write such lovely posts and reviews dear… I wait every week for your Sunday post because i know I’ll love it…
    I agree with everything you said in this one… I give a lot of 3 stars too and even quite a lot of 4s… it’s very rare that I would give a 2 and there has to be something that I really hated it it…
    I obviously don’t feel comfortable writing about technical stuff because i don’t know enough. I just write reviews mostly based on my feelings and that has worked for me till now… ofcourse, sometimes I can’t even articulate why I like or don’t like something, but I think that’s ok 😊😊😊
    I love your attitude towards reviewing and I’m so glad I got to know you !!!! You are a wonderful writer …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very much, Sahitya! 😊 I have no words to express how emotional your comment is making me feel. 😭 I love your posts too because you put out such high quality ones on such a regular basis and I’m so glad I got to know you as well. ❤ I’m happy that your style is also very similar to mine in terms of rating. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Vicky Who Reads

    I love your reasoning and I totally agree! I try to round up most of the time, because I feel like authors deserve at least that. I wish I had as much resolve and well…politeness/kindess as you though! Sometimes books just bring my wrath *covers face*

    Such a wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Vicky! 😊 Yes, they do deserve that. Haha, that’s fine. We just have to break the rules sometimes, yes? For me I find that it helps if I don’t write the review immediately after I finish a book so I can gather my thoughts and be objective.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The way I see it, my blog is first and foremost /my/ space. Which makes it a little silly for me to filter myself. I understand why my content, specifically my reviews, won’t appeal to everyone simply because of the sort of voice I use. But hey, as long as I’m not personally attacking anyone, I think I’m good!

    Anyway.

    Thank you so much for mentioning me in your discussion post! I mean, what an honor! As someone who’s used to academic writing, it’s sometimes a struggle for me to express my opinions without sounding like a boring, overly analytical textbook. I’m glad (and very relieved) to know that there’s someone out there who can still find amusement in what I write. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a very good point you make, Shealea! 😊 Obviously, writing reviews out of fear/a sense of censorship from others is not what someone should go for. I’m so glad you voice your opinions as honestly as possible because it’s authentic and that’s more important than anything else for a review.
      Yours has a certain sense of humour to it that makes it so much fun to read! Don’t worry, I don’t get a boring, textbook vibe from it at all. You’re doing great and it’s been consistent ever since I started following your blog! ❤

      Like

  9. I think that, because this is your blog, Nandini, you can write whatever kinds of reviews you want. 😉 And as a reader, I have no preference whether a blogger reviews everything they read or chooses to highlight books they enjoyed. What matters most to me is that the reviewer shares their honest opinion and offers constructive criticism. Of course, if they think a book was absolutely incredible, then of course they should tell me all the reasons why they think so!

    As for me, I stick to Goodreads reviews, since my blog isn’t a book review blog. I only write reviews if the book is a 3+ star read for me, too, and I do my best to keep things fair and respectful by sharing what I liked and what could use improvement. I do, however, share my favorite reads of each season in a blog post, because I do want to talk about bookish things I enjoy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yes, of course! There’s this idea in the bookish community that writing only positive reviews means they’re being dishonest, which I wanted to debunk by explaining my reviewing style. I find that reviewing books I liked works for me because then I’m actually interested in writing and sharing them with the community. 🙂

      I love reading your reviews on Goodreads, Sara! I feel like I always come away with a very clear picture of whether I’ll enjoy the book or not. I love your bookish and other posts as well because you’re so good at articulating your thoughts. 😍

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! And that makes perfect sense. I’ve written reviews of books I thought were mediocre before, and it’s less enjoyable AND more difficult most of the time. So now, if I find I don’t have a lot to say about a book, or if I don’t finish it or would give it less than 3 stars on Goodreads, then I don’t even bother writing a review anymore.

        Awwwww, thank you, Nandini. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I see a lot of myself in this post. Especially about the part on authors. Sometimes authors do their best but for many reasons is not always enough,
    Also, I think that sometimes some readers aren’t exactly the most analytical, meaning that I read a lot of rant but I never grasp what they didn’t like.
    Or that when the issue get important and delicate, things often takes a turn a bit… not messy, but over complicated. Sometimes on both sides, when it’s actually quite simple to talk about in a costructive manner. Or at least I feel this way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very much for sharing your opinions, Camilla! 😊 You make some excellent points. Yes, I’ve seen that in rants sometimes the clarity is completely lost and I’m just confused or mildly annoyed that I got slightly spoiled for the story. I’ve not seen a lot of controversial harsh opinions because I tend to stay away from the drama, but I think you make a very valid point there! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  13. Vanessa

    I’m quite late in the discussion, but I totally agree with this post! I feel like people think they have to be super harsh and critical to be “honest”. I find value in nearly every book I read. If I rate a book 1 or 2 stars, I try to explain why. Also, it’s hard to write a debut book. People’s expectations are SO high for debuts especially with ARCS, marketing, promoting, etc. The worst a book will ever do for me is let me down or disappoint me. I have a very small list of truly terrible books.
    Lately, if a book is disappointing me I just DNF it and tell others that the problem is me. I’m not looking to critique and over-analyze every thing. My basic formula is: Do I like the characters? Do I like the world-building? Am I enjoying the pace/plot? All I need is to be invested and for the story to surprise me. I don’t want to tank someone’s career over silly issues, haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very much for sharing your opinions, Vanessa! 😊 Ugh yes, I hate that idea that being harsh or unnecessarily critical is seen as being honest. The older I get, the more I find such reviews less amusing.
      You make an excellent point about debut books! Publishers are going all out for promotions these days thanks to bookish social media and expectations just sky-rocket from then on. What I want to see in a debit is how much promise the author holds because there is always time to get better!
      I totally agree with you and ask myself the same questions as I try to review and answer them as best as I can. Reading is a very personal thing and it can be hard to be objective while reviewing them.

      Like

  14. I love everything about this post. There is already so much negativity in the world, and just because a book didn’t work for us, doesn’t justify being nasty about it. Or adding more negativity. These books are little precious babies to their authors and we should treat them with respect, even if we don’t like them. I hope to be better about this in the future! Thank you SO MUCH for writing a very eye-opening post!

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. This was interesting! I am definitely not afraid of writing negative reviews, but I also typically say “I didn’t like this but XYZ might.” I am hyper aware that different people like different things, but it’s MY blog and MY review and MY rating. And it’s okay for ME to not like a book! I feel like that’s also very helpful to people with similar tastes to me to hear “I didn’t like this”. I really appreciate when my favorite reviewers say that, because then I know that maybe I would rather spend my valuable reading time on something else.
    Obviously that is just my opinion and the way I like to do things. You are definitely entitled to do things your way! Just wanted to share that while I whole-heartedly agree with your sentiments, they don’t manifest the same way on my blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great! I love hearing different opinions and I definitely see the value of negative reviews as I’ve used them to weed out books from my TBR too. I’m very grateful to all the kind souls who do that! ❤

      I’m glad you like to say that even though you didn’t enjoy it, others might. I think that’s the key point I was trying to make – writing reviews so harsh that makes any sort of reader turn away from it (unless it’s problematic) is something I personally struggle to accept. I’ve noticed that it’s become a trend of sorts on Goodreads and that people think it’s ‘edgy’, which is very disheartening. 😔

      I love the sound of how you like to review on your blog. I’ll surely check it out soon. 😊 Thanks for your comment! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, people on goodreads definitely tend towards the extreme. I think it’s because it’s so hard for your review to get noticed with how they organize them, so people think if they say something outrageous maybe they’ll get comments and start to show.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, that’s probably a reason! My review rarely, if ever, shows up on a book’s page so I sympathise, but also I can feel the negativity getting to me if I read a particularly bad review that only has words in caps, GIFs that don’t load and no concrete reasons as to why they disliked the book.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. elissa

    I agree with you — especially points 1 and 2. I try to be a positive person in life overall (even though it’s really hard) and don’t want to be super negative. I *will* call out negative things like racism/misogyny/sexism, etc., but if it’s just a book that doesn’t work out for me… I usually won’t even rate it on Goodreads unless it’s super popular and my low star rating won’t affect it much, if at all.

    Thanks for the interesting topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that you agree and have a similar process. Yes, being positive takes a lot of hard work but I think the end result is worth it. It is absolutely essential to call out problematic content and one should never hesitate to do that! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Elissa! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. This is such a personal topic!
    You shouldn’t feel bad for writing only positive reviews. I know a few people who are upset if someone doesn’t write negative reviews, but i really can’t see how it is their business in the first place.

    If i really hate a book, i usually don’t even finish it, so it never really gets to the review writing stage. Occasionally, when i don’t like something, but yet not completely hate it either, i’ll rate it as 2 and explain why. I don’t do this very often though because i just simply don’t want to waste my time on stuff i don’t enjoy. A 2 star book can still have enjoyable parts though, so that’s why occasionally i finish reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you so much, Norrie! 🙂 I really needed to hear that. I usually select my books very carefully so that they’re at least 3 stars for me (rarely have I picked up 2 or lesser in 3 years’ time) and yes, I don’t spend my time rating and reviewing them because I mostly have nothing much to say beyond the fact that I didn’t like it. I’m glad you see things similarly. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  21. Love this post! I totally get you. I always review only 3 star or above books on my blog and whileI rarely rate books less than that if I do then I only vent on Goodreads while stating why the book was problematic, the main point being I respect the author’s efforts and people who are a fan of that very book.

    Idk how to describe my reviewing style. Maybe detailed and all over the place? My readers would know better 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you feel the same way, Charvi. ❤ It validates my opinions in a way I cannot describe. No, your reviewing style is great! I feel like no matter how someone writes a review, if they are honest and I can get a sense of whether I personally want to read that book or not, it’s a good review for me. I think you’re doing great! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  22. oof I just wrote a post about how negative can negative book reviews be, and I was low key scared that no one would agree with me. I’m okay with reading negative reviews but sometimes the reviewers can be a bit too “harsh” and that kinda makes me sad.

    I mean obviously it’s natural if someone does not like a book, and it’s okay if someone wants to write a negative review but I feel that people should be a biiiit more polite. I totally agree with this post. And it’s totally okay if someone wants to write positive reviews. Wonderful post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Aditi! 😊 I’m glad you agree. I feel like many people try to sound edgy on their reviews and be so harsh that they forget to be respectful. I feel like there’s a way to criticize art without being disrespectful to the author. I’m saying this assuming the books are not problematic, just that they didn’t enjoy it. Yes, I bookmarked it to read when I have a little spare time. I’ll surely check it out soon! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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