Writers Who Review

June 20, 2012

I use Goodreads semi-faithfully. (That’s a lie. I use it when I remember to use it, which isn’t often.) When I signed up, I wanted a place that would keep track of books I read or wanted to read. Now, I’m more apt to add books to my “To Read” pile so I don’t forget a recommendation or something that’s caught my eye elsewhere on the Internet than I am to mark a book as “Read” after I’ve read it. And while I rate the books I’ve read by clicking the little stars, I never write a review. Mostly, it’s about time. (It takes all of two seconds to click a star, but a review requires serious thought.) And then there’s the idea of criticizing a fellow writer. I worry about that. I worry that a 2-star rank is already enough of a blow to said author without my notes on weak conflict, unlikeable characters and unbelievable plot.

I know it’s all subjective, but still…

Maybe I’m just not cut out to give honest feedback to perfect strangers who worked every bit as hard as I am working to get published. Don’t get me wrong…I appreciate reviews, but I give credence to those written by people who think like me. (Once again, it’s all subjective.) And some of the best reviews I’ve read have been written by readers who review, not writers like me. 🙂

What do you think? Should writers review? Do they run the risk of alienating other writers, editors and publishers with honest negative reviews? Are writers, reading to perfect their craft, more critical in reviews than readers who read for enjoyment and critique simply to share?



8 Responses to “Writers Who Review”

  1. Hmm, I do review, usually only when I really like something, and I wouldn’t leave a bad review. Namely cause it’s all so subjective, and I take no pleasure in slamming someone else’s work. I’d rather stay quiet. That said, there is only one book I can think of that was so bad, it made me want to throw my Kindle across the room. And I didn’t even add that one to my pile on Good reads!

    • I’m like you, Doris. I would rather stay quiet. Actually, I’m a really non-critical person. Peace and love. 😉 I think there’s beauty to be found everywhere–even if it’s not particularly beautiful to me, I recognize someone else would disagree. It’s a good thing I don’t review. They would be so vanilla!


  2. taristhread Says:

    I have reviewed a few books that I really liked. Like both of you, if I don’t….well usually I don’t finish it, but if I happen to finish it I don’t review a book I didn’t like.

    Most of the time I don’t really review books, I talk about them from a writer’s point of view, and don’t talk only about the book, but other things….like what the heck does a writer wear when they’re writing….I know, but I had fun writing it.

    I think because I write, I feel that it’s more subjective. I know that sometimes I love something I’ve written that others don’t get….and sometimes I hate something I’ve written that others love, but I want to remove…I guess that’s pretty much what Elley was saying!!!

    So, I avoid actually reviewing other writers…unless I just love the book!!

    • I talk about them from a writer’s point of view too. I don’t know how to separate from that.Even the most entralling book has a moment or two of me, the writer, thinking, “huh, I wouldn’t have written it like that.” I think there is a real art to reviewing, and I’m not skilled in that art. 🙂


      • taristhread Says:

        I also have a hard time not reading like a writer. It’s not about the mechanics so much…it’s like Elley said, I’ll think “I wouldn’t have written it like that.”

        I have to admit that although I read reviews, I take them with a grain of salt….I love things that other people have hated, I go to movies that haven’t had good reviews and love them….. sometimes a review will influence me, but usually not.

  3. yhosby Says:

    I’m a writer who does book reviews. I think it’s okay to give a bad one if you explain why you felt that way. What you may not have liked could be a reason someone else enjoyed the book. But if it’s clear of your opinion, then I would hope the author would appreciate honest feedback.

    Besides if you hate a book, you can keep the review short and simple–telling the one thing you liked about it 🙂

    Keep smiling,

    P.S. When I read a book (especially for a review), I don’t think like a writer. I focus on just the story elements instead of grammar, sentence structure. I keep strictly my reader cap on. My main concern is getting lost in the story or does it feel like I’m reading about a character’s journey.

  4. nicolepyles Says:

    I am doing more book reviews on my blog and I’m also contemplating a book I read that I didn’t really like. I would end up giving it 3 stars. But I’m a writer too and I don’t want it to impact my own career.

    I’m tempted to leave off star rating for this book and just leave the review on my blog as is…

    Which tells me I’m not cut out to do book reviews the way a traditional book reviewer should. 🙂

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