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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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!