So it’s now September and I find myself with a backlog of over 40 book reviews. And when I haven’t written these book reviews, I’ve always been thinking about books in some way, consciously or unconsciously reviewing them in my head.
Apart from simply loving writing them, over the year I’ve realised I have learned a lot from them too. I’m no expert – quite the opposite. But this is what I have learned from the experience so far.
I Value Having a Record of Everything I’ve Read
This may sound like the obvious one – but hear me out.
When I was younger and I had all the time in the world to read, I would whizz through books at a speed so fast that if you asked me about the book the next day, I wouldn’t be able to tell you a thing about it. In other words – I would forget everything I’d read.
Writing book reviews has forced me to consolidate my thoughts on a book and has left me a neat little trail of reviews across the internet – which will be lovely to look back on in years to come. If I’m ever sat there thinking, “I wonder what I read when I was 22?” as long as the Internet is still alive, I’ll be able to know the answer.
If You Don’t Like the Book – Just Give Up
I used to be a firm believer that once you’ve started a book, you should never give up on it. Now that I (almost) read every book to write a review, there would be nothing worse than having to plough through a book I didn’t like and write a review about it after.
Life’s too short and there are so many books out there, ditch the ones you don’t like and then you can make more time for the ones you do.
And yes, it is okay to abandon the book at any time. Thirty pages from the end and you just can’t be bothered anymore? Then put it down and move onto the next.
It’s Rare to Find Someone Who Agrees With You 100%
For every book read, there’s a wealth of different opinions that come with it. Every book is going to be received and interpreted in a number of ways, and this is largely a credit to the power of literature.
We all think and feel in different ways so it’s almost impossible that we are going to have the same experience with a book. Additionally, we all like different things in books. Some of us like a fast-paced plot over an in-depth character study. It all depends on the reader.
Part of the wonder of being part of the book community is seeing everyone’s different opinions on a book – it’s one of my favourite things. But I’ve learnt more than ever is that no one is going to agree with you all the time. For instance, I felt like an anomaly when the book world was going mad for Normal People, and I had forced myself to read it for a second time but was still left wondering what all the fuss was about.
All Reviews Matter
Before I started writing reviews on my blog, I naively thought that only book reviewers that wrote for the top magazines and newspapers gained influence and mattered. It’s easy to think, right?
Sure, my reviews will have far less of an audience but they still have the potential to alter the perception or success of a book. Working with lesser-known authors that have approached me (which is still unbelievable in itself) I’ve realised the value of a well-written book review and what that can mean for an author – and it doesn’t have to be written by someone well established.
In a world where we can all be writers and reviewers on Amazon, NetGalley and Goodreads, all of our opinions and thoughts matter too. That’s the beauty of the internet.
Sometimes It Can Be Hard to Put Thoughts into Words
Some reviews have been easier to write than others. Sometimes I have felt so overwhelmed with a book that I’ve struggled to put my thoughts to paper, or haven’t even written a review for it, in fear of not being able to do it justice. Take The Goldfinch for example, probably one of the best books I have ever read, but I couldn’t write a review of it because it was almost too good – and my thoughts on it lacked a real coherency that book reviews need. So I left it, and that’s okay.
And then some books deal with difficult topics, such as Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race and An American Marriage – incredibly important books, but I’ve found reviews for these hard to write in case I phrase something badly or have interpreted the message in the wrong way.
But now and always, it will be imperative that we continue to review these types of books and test ourselves. It’s better to try and get it wrong than to sit back and not try at all.
It’s been a fun nine months of writing book reviews and I’ve gained a lot from it. As someone who can easily forget books despite whilst reading them being madly in love with them, I’ve realised the value in keeping some kind of record of my thoughts to look back on. For non book bloggers, it doesn’t have to be a book review, but even making a few simple notes in a diary or journal, detailing what you thought of the book.
I’ve realised above all, that I love writing book reviews and starting conversations with readers across the world, as despite being many miles apart, we can be united by the shared experience of having read the same book. The sense of community at the heart of the online book world is invaluable and I hope I’ve managed to positively contribute in some way, despite only being here for a short while.
Here’s to more brilliant reads and writing more book reviews to come!
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