Wild Things: YA Grown-Up discussion

And Everything Else > The Art of Reviewing

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather Bree (blackdotbug) I just read a blog post by Shannon Hale and it got me thinking that I'd like to hear what other Wild Things had to say about it.

Here's here blog post:

And specifically here's her set of questions for her audience:
"Some things to discuss for those of you who review books on blogs, amazon, goodreads, etc.:
1. Do you find that the anticipation of reviewing the book has changed your reading experience?
2. Are you rating the book even as you read? Or do you wait until the end to sum it all up?
3. Does knowing you'll be reviewing it (or rating it) publicly affect which books you pick up in the first place?
4. Does the process of writing the review itself change how you felt about the book?
5. What is your motivation to assign a rating to a book and declare it to the world?
6. If you review a book but don't rate, why not? What do you feel is your role as reviewer?"

Since I've joined GR I've tried to write some kind of explanation for my ratings as I've finished the books I've read. I went through a lot of books importing my reading history that I only had a vague and general feeling about and I felt really uncomfortable just slapping a star rating on there and moving on with no explanation. It's an odd process. It makes me stop and consider why I liked or disliked a book. I really feel like I have to justify it to anyone who may see my ratings. And, as Shannon Hale points out in her blog post, what I'm discovering is more about what kinds of books I like or don't like, what topics draw me in or repulse me, what writing styles I find enjoyable or distracting, and what types of characters I identify with. So initially, the reviews are there to explain my rating to someone else, but really going back and looking at them later I can get some personal insight into why I read and how reading has changed me. :) I love books.

message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) This really is a fantastic topic, and I'll just make a quick note cause my lunch is about warmed up. I consider the rating all the way through while I'm reading. Usually I decide on the rating a little past the halfway point, and only very rarely will that change based upon the ending. Typically if I love a book, the ending is not gonna make it come down from 5 stars. But I have had 4 star books be bumped to 5 due to the ending.

I think it's important to review and rate a book because I base so many of my reading decisions on others' ratings. If I want to read 20 different books, and am trying to decide, I'll almost always consider the GR rating. I find that if the GR rating is 4 or above, and there are lots of raters, then it almost guarantees a great reading experience for me - unless I'm doing something completely out of character, like picking up a genre I never read because I don't like it.

But I really like to rate and review to give the next reader some help in making their decision on whether it's worthwhile to commit to a book buying decision or even a reading decision.

message 3: by Misty (new)

Misty | 1505 comments I'm an essay writer at heart, so I am reviewing and pulling quotes and examples as I go along, whether I plan to review or not. I think the process of reviewing only changes your concept of the book in that it makes you more aware of how you feel about it and why. I don't base my selections on what I'd like to review. I tend to only post a review of a book if there's something I really want to say, regardless of the quality of the book (so there are plenty of books I really like that don't get reviewed. However, if I strongly dislike something, I always review it to warn people).

Elizabeth (Miss Eliza) (strange_misseliza) | 31 comments I just started blogging this summer and I think that the anticipation of reviewing a book has changed my reading experience but in a very good way. I find that instead of saying I like a book or don't like a book I will analyze my decision more than in the past and find out what exactly it was that made me feel that way before committing it to words. Instead of a quick summing up or terse short comment like I would leave on goodreads I found I'd analyze aspects of each book and not even write my review for over a week so I could think it over. For example I was reading 84, Charing Cross Road and I found the sending of presents by the author to the bookshop annoying, and after thinking about it for some time I realized it annoyed me because it's something I do. She was sending presents because she herself could not be there, and I do that and I'd never even really thought about it before. I really don't think I would have ever really come to this conclusion if I didn't write a blog.

Also as to the ratings, originally I didn't rate my book reviews but a rating system has wormed it's way in, mainly due to convenience for my readers, which are few, and I'm trying to give them a sense of familiarity to they world of reviews they know. Perhaps in the future once I have people hooked then I can go back to eliminating the stars and concentrating on the book discussion more.

And finally, while I think sometimes the categorization and classification of books on sites like goodreads can be looked upon negatively, I think on the whole it's good. Because with the groups and with the friends you create you are more like to open up a discussion and delve into the book deeper than you would in the past sitting at home on your own, if you don't have any bookaholics around.

This is basically my post from that board, but I'm glad to have a more, talk amongst friends of this topic, although I liked how many goodreads people were there (well, except for Nathan Hale who trashed the site).

message 5: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) 1. Do you find that the anticipation of reviewing the book has changed your reading experience?
In some ways, yes. I find myself picking the book apart more than I would if I had no plan to review. I've made a commitment to review every book that I read this year, and I find that I haven't been able to "lose myself" in books as I have in the past. (This COULD also have to do with the fact that I used to reread a lot of favorites and this year I've been reading only "new to me" books.)

2. Are you rating the book even as you read? Or do you wait until the end to sum it all up?
Oh yeah. From page 1. If the start doesn't absolutely grab me, it starts as a 3 star and then can go either way from there depending on where the story goes. If the beginning is great, then it starts as a 4 star, but if the beginning is bad, then I give it a short chance to pick up and then ditch it, usually giving it a 2 star rating.

I think of a lot of different things when mentally rating. The characters, the story progression, how much I'm anticipating the end and WHY, how absorbed I am, whether I'd be willing to read a sequel or series... etc.

3. Does knowing you'll be reviewing it (or rating it) publicly affect which books you pick up in the first place?
No. I read whichever book strikes my fancy at the time. I don't think of the review until I'm reading it.

4. Does the process of writing the review itself change how you felt about the book?
Sometimes. When I'm writing a review, it sometimes helps me to nail down a vague feeling that I might have had. Discussions also work in this way. I know whether I liked or disliked a book, and that generally does not change, but my appreciation of the book, which I think is VERY different, may change. I can appreciate a book but still dislike it.

5. What is your motivation to assign a rating to a book and declare it to the world?
I don't really have a motivation, or if I do, I never really thought about it. I generally rate and review books for myself. I don't really have others in mind when I read or when I review. But I suppose, if I was really to analyze it, that it would come down to the basest fact: we want people to love what we love and hate what we hate.

6. If you review a book but don't rate, why not? What do you feel is your role as reviewer?
I always rate a book that I'm reviewing. It is part of the review to me. A lead in, really. It gives an idea of where I stood on the book and what the tone of my review will be.

As far as my role, I'm not really sure what that means. I don't think that I'm trying to be something that I'm not - I'm an average person reading books and writing about the way that they affected -or failed to affect- me.

message 6: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 312 comments It only changes my reading experience in that I feel pressured to read the book faster. I don't feel that reviewing a book is going to change how I feel about the book.

Honestly, I do somewhat rate as a read, but I don't write reviews as soon as I finish a book. Typically when I finish a book, I jot down a few thoughts on paper, and then go shower (epiphanies happen in the shower LOL), and think about what I want to say in my review. I then outline the review, and then go and type it out.

Knowing I will be reviewing a book absolutely does not affect which books I pick up. I will pick up books I've heard are good, books which catch my eye, and books which have been pushed on me ( YOU KNOW WHO YOU ALL ARE!!)

I only rate books on goodreads, and that is mainly for others, so you know, hey this book is worth reading, or this book sucks. If I see a book on GR without stars, I just assume it's terrible.

I don't rate books on my blog. I started a blog, first because I thought Kristin's was awesome (shoutout to BookWormingInThe21stCentury), second of all, because I wanted a place that was my very own to review books, and do other bookish things, (don't be sad, I am still in LOVE with GR), and third, to network with other people out there. I'm trying to improve my reviews, if you go back and check them out from the beginning of the year, they were just a sentance, with no qualifiers. Now, I am trying to write about how a book made me feel, why I loved, liked, or hated a book, what the book was about, how I connected with the book, and touch on what the book was about. I think it's a work in progress and in time, I'll fit better in the role of a reviewer.

message 7: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I don't go to that detail when I review! I start typing and whatever comes out is what my review says. LOL

message 8: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 312 comments Becky wrote: "I don't go to that detail when I review! I start typing and whatever comes out is what my review says. LOL "

I'm jealous of your articulation. I feel like I can't write good reviews unless I plan them. By the way, I love all of your reviews, they are always so intelligent and well-worded and you really get your feelings and views across.

message 9: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) *blush* Thanks!

I think, in my head, I feel like I am TELLING GR about the book, so... *shrug* maybe that's my secret. I don't really give it a lot of thought! LOL

Elizabeth (Miss Eliza) (strange_misseliza) | 31 comments Oh, like goodreads is some sort of entity that needs telling, I like that!

message 11: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Well how else will it know? ;P

Elizabeth (Miss Eliza) (strange_misseliza) | 31 comments Precisely!

message 13: by JG (Introverted Reader) (last edited Aug 24, 2009 02:06AM) (new)

JG (Introverted Reader) Whatever you do, Becky, it really works!

Knowing that I'm going to write a review doesn't really change the "reading experience" for me, but I do take a little more time to think about the book and why I'm reacting to it the way I am. I'll also jot down notes about things as I read, and sometimes flag a quote or a section with this neat little post-it bookmark my husband got for me. None of that happened before I started writing reviews here.

I don't consciously rate the book as I read, but if someone were to ask me what I would rate a book at any given point as I read, I could give an answer. I don't sit there thinking, "4 stars, 4 stars, 4 stars, Oooh No! Down to 3 stars! She's going to have to work to earn that extra star back after that little episode!"

I review every book I read. There are tons of old ones on my shelves that aren't reviewed--some aren't even rated--but I've reviewed almost all the books I've read since joining GR. That doesn't change what I read at all. My groups and friends have pointed me in directions I might not have found on my own, but the review doesn't affect that.

Occasionally, I'll change my rating as I write a review. That's mostly to bump a book down a star. I start writing, realize that there was more I disliked than I first thought, and there I go--2 stars instead of 3.

I rate books and share them because it helps me to remember how I felt about a book and because I like seeing how my friends rate books and I want to return the favor. I don't always read reviews before I read a book, just in case I accidentally come across a spoiler, so the rating gives me an idea of what others thought of the book without having to read the reviews. I'm afraid that makes it sound like I don't read my friends' reviews, so I'll add here that I do read the reviews in my friend update emails religiously and thoroughly enjoy them.

My role as a reviewer? Does that sort of mean why I review? I guess I see my role just as sharing my likes/dislikes/recommendations with my friends. And trying to give them a coherent reason about why I felt the way I did, so they can make a decision for themselves.

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