TSS: To Review or Not to Review

Earlier this week, Kay over at My Random Acts of Reading, asked whether or not we review all of the books we read and how we go about reviewing them.

This opens up a huge can of mental worms for me. I constantly struggle with how to go about reviews, style, notes, format. Ack! The pathway is as chaotic as a maze, with lots of dead ends because I'm constantly backtracking and finding a new way to do something.

My first year of becoming formally aware of what I was reading was three years ago. Prior to that, I had always read a-plenty, but never kept track of what I read. 2007-08 I kept my first list. The following year, 2008-09, I started Reading Thru the Night. Why'd I start it? I needed a place to write about books so I could remember them! I absolutely despise knowing I read a book but not being able to recall even the tiniest detail outside of the general: hated it or loved it. Of course I still have that soupy memory issue but now I can look back on a post for triggers.

Blogging has changed how I read the books, but I wanted to take it one step further. I haven't taken notes while reading since my college literature years, and I desperately missed them. After reading a couple of blogger's posts (with visuals) of their written journal, I became envious! I wanted to do that! I wanted something that gorgeous on my shelves that I could flip through over the years. (I love you 'net, but I love the simplicity of the written word. It's . . . romantic!) And now I'm struggling with this. I love the aftermath of journalling while reading, but I'm not very disciplined. Plus, this past month I'm experiencing something new in my reading habits. Due to timing, interest, and Life, I am currently in the middle of five books. I'm not too comfortable with this and don't want it to be habit forming, but it's where I'm at now. So this is where my OCD steps in. How can I write about all of these books that I'm reading without losing the organization of my book journal. I can't. And now, my book journal has kinda been defeated because I've only taken notes on one book!

Did you know I'm this neurotic?

Now I haven't even started on how I review books. I'm anal enough to want a specific format (which is my first five lines: title, author, pub date, pages, genre, and challenges) but creative enough that my presentation of the book constantly changes. Especially my voice. Sometimes I'm in a chillin' kinda mood and I kick it back like I would hanging with friends. Other reviews I feel more academic and might curb the slang. Does this change my content? I don't know. I can tell you that over all, I enjoy reading conversational tones in book reviews more than anything else. If you make me feel as though I'm actually a part of your world, how you view the book and how it relates to your life, I will forever be a reader. Even if we don't share the same interest in books.

Also, I've really tried to review all of the books that I have read. With maybe the ones that are rereads. I tend to read anywhere 3 to 5 books before I sit down at the computer and type of my reviews. It's more of a time management thing (but you can see why I'm drawn to a paper journal as well because of this!) I definitely think for some books it hurts the review. You know, the books that I'm either on the fence or could care less. (My Secret Year, which will be posted soon is an example of this). However, if I absolutely adored the book (ahem, have you read the Girl with Glass Feet yet?) it doesn't really matter how long I wait because I'm going to love revisiting it.

This is a pretty rambling Sunday Salon.

Do you keep notes while reading? If so, where do you write the notes, in a journal or on post its? How do you review your books? Does it effect your review if you wait a few days before writing it?

* above picture props


  1. I am very much in the camp of writing a review as soon after finishing a book as possible. This sometimes is difficult with joint reads and reviews, but I am usually the one who tries to keep those on a schedule, too.

    I don't really take notes while reading. I will mark passages and put those that I like in my LibraryThing and sometimes use those in my reviews, and sometimes I'll try to remember to bring a certain point up, but never by writing a note to myself.

  2. I generally try to review a book asap after reading it, unless it's one that I'm just not sure of. and I try not to think too much about how I review. I just write what comes to me. Sometimes it's good, sometimes not...

  3. I don't keep notes, but I often turn down a page (gasp!) for an especially nice piece of writing or something significant. Reviews I try to write ASAP after I finish a book while it's fresh on my mind.

  4. Christina, I'm honored that my post caused you to think about your reviewing technique. At least I think I am. I didn't mean to make you feel stressed! LOL

    I understand what you are saying though. I think that is one OCD person to another.

    Emidy at Une Parole asked if people read more than one book at a time this week. She does not and has had a hard time understanding how people do that. I will say that I don't read more than one at a time precisely because of things like you talked about. Keeping 5 books straight, taking notes, etc. That's just me.

    I am still searching for my specific blog voice, but I think it is coming. I've had my blog for 3 years now, but I have taken several extended breaks from it. Reviewing is becoming easier for me, but I do it pretty soon after I finish a book. Otherwise, my mind is off on something else.

  5. I keep little notes on the books that I read. I also find that it serves me best to keep my reviews short. I'm just that kind of person.

  6. Ooh I love this post, definitely some of the issues I face.

    I tend to read 2 to 3 books at a time, 2 paperback and an audio but of course if a book is 'unputdownable' then I just keep going until finished. At the moment I'm having trouble staying motivated and disciplined enough to get my reviews done, even for the books I absolutely love. I like to review all books I read but once I get into a reviewing funk, I have to work really hard to get out.
    I do take notes (post-it note style)and write down quotes I love as I read, hoping that by the time I finish the book I've got a pageful of notes, hence making review easy ... sounds good in theory LOL

    When I love a book, delaying the review doesnt seem to have much of an effect on writing my review but the books that are just ok, I still have notes for but the longer I leave the review the less motivated I am to write it :-)

    I tend to follow the same style but I like a more conversational tone rather than a formal one.

  7. I use post it notes ans stick them on pages to remember things that I want in a review.

    I dont have a great review format and I wish I did. For awhile I would start each review with a personal quote from me about the book. I liked that, but when I was unable to think of something witty, that stopped.

    I am hoping my time in BEA this year will help inspire what I would like to have which is a consistent and original layout that reflects my blog... while writing this... ideas have popped up. :)


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