Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Reviews ... a manageable system

I don't want to make the same mistake twice.

The last time I tried to maintain a "book review" blog, I quickly found myself over-whelmed.

  • I would read recommendations from other sites and immediately want to add those books to my TBR list (but I was adding at a far greater rate than I was actually reading)
  • I would enter book give-away contests and often win - adding still more books to my overflowing shelves.  
  • Authors would contact me and offer to send a copy of their recent work in exchange for a review.  I was honored to be asked and of course said yes.  I now had even more books piling up all over the house.
  • I wanted to be thorough and honest in my reviews.  This, I thought, required me to take copious notes as I read the book, and then include several memorable quotes in each review.  It would often take a couple of hours to write one single review.
Soon my pleasurable pastime became a stressful responsibility.  The last thing I needed in life was one more task on the to-do list.  So... I quit.

I don't want to overwhelm myself again.

I want to commit to this for the long haul.  I want to continue to love reading, and I want to continue to share that love with others.

So I am developing a simple system for writing book reviews.  I am sure that it will need tweaking as the weeks go by, but for now I will focus on four areas:
  • Brief plot summary 
  • WHY I originally chose the book - what appealed to me about the work to make me want to read it.
  • What were my EXPECTATIONS for the book - and were these expectations met
  • RECOMMENDATION - would I recommend it (and for which audience) - why or why not
As difficult as it might be for this retired literature teacher, I am going to try to refrain from writing detailed character descriptions - theme developments - and quoting significant passages.  I want to streamline the process so I can duplicate it year after year.

That is the goal anyway.

I hope the reviews are adequate for this audience.  


  1. I am thrilled that you will be back to share books with us. I look forward to your reviews and commentaries, whatever form or shape they take.

  2. I think it sounds like they will be more than adequate. You know, book bloggers are mostly such a responsible bunch of people. We want to do things "right" and make sure we are fulfilling expectations. Think we are pretty hard on ourselves. We don't need to be.

    Look forward to hearing a snippet of what you thought about when reading a book. ;-)

  3. You are definitely not the only blogger to get in over their head with books to read! I am just as guilty of it. My TBR feels out of control sometimes. I just do the best I can and keep on plugging away at it. You have realistic goals and I think you will find yourself happier this way!

  4. Good luck. I'm still struggling with trying to write shorter reviews. In the past I had been known to spend 3+ hours on one blog review ... I really just can't do that anymore

  5. I found that a structure, like yours, helps me write my reviews more quickly. I also sometimes link to other people's book reviews -- posts where someone spent more time working on a summary or had a different opinion than I did.

    Joy's Book Blog

  6. Good luck! I try to remember blogging is more for me. It helps with that overwhelming feeling. Write for you!


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