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Read. Review. Forget. Repeat.

A photo of a pile of books I've read

I’m going to say straight away that I realise this topic has been covered before. It was an idea that occurred to me as I finished writing a review that took 10 minutes, so whilst I can’t say I am copying anyone, I can say that I know there is a sense of ‘been there done that’ to it. However considering everyone differs in their reading and reviewing, I reckon talking personally is still relevant.

I am loving the way I read and have been reading since I started blogging. Blogging and reviewing have kept me on the ball – even my reading slumps are shorter than they were before. Before blogging I read and read in depth, but I never particularly questioned what I read, and the few times I found myself engaging with a text in a critical way I ended the book feeling at a loss as to how I could take it further, to express my thoughts. I admit to seeing little point to writing about books if I wasn’t going to somehow publish what I’d written. This is in part why I have never kept a diary.

Blogging has kept me on my toes, it forces the kind of reading and writing that I always wanted to achieve but never could, namely in-depth looks at themes the sort I never managed at school. It’s stopped me procrastinating. It keeps my mind ticking over in a way my university studies haven’t. It constantly educates me.


It’s peculiar. Even though I am engaging in texts far more than ever, at the same time the production-line sort of reading that my blogging requires makes me wonder about what has been lost. I realise this production-line description may not fit other bloggers, but know that overall it works for me – I’m terrible at getting things done without a deadline.

Whilst I know I engage far more, I believe I savour texts far less than I used to.

Read, enjoy, review, done. Start again with the next book. I do, often, think back to previous books and sometimes write about them, even if their popularity has long gone (take my recent post on The Iron Fey for example), but still I feel guilty. I even feel I’m cheating the author of someone who should be a good reader of their work, even if I’m technically offering them more as a reviewer than I would be if I were silent.

It’s the production-line that is the issue. And I know that most book bloggers have one of sorts, be they faster than mine, the same, or slower. Indeed sometimes I envy those who post infrequently, those who you are pleasantly surprised to see again in your feed reader. They must savour far more than I.

And yet. And yet I wouldn’t want to go back to reading less, to reviewing slowly, to no self-imposed deadlines. I’m someone who must review straight away or else the review doesn’t get written (my promised review of Persuasion exists only as a forgotten draft, and my notes on Fifty Shades Of Grey made a lovely-looking plan that is just that, a plan). I love the blend of personal reading and critical reading that allows me to have two different ratings for the same book, allows me to gush in my round-ups and remain more objective in my review. I like that I am consuming so much knowledge. I thrive on my deadlines. But I still feel like I’m doing the book a disservice, that I’m doing my future self a disservice.

I don’t believe one way is better than the other. They both have pros and cons and each suits different people. But, in my case at least, I can’t quite come to a complete agreement with myself about either of them. I know the way I read and review is right for me, yet I can’t quite accept it, whilst I do accept it.

Maybe it’s because I realise how short a time each book actually takes, how much that eight or nine pounds lasted (when I’m reading a book I purchased), the number of months an author spent on it only for me to finish it in a matter of hours. It’s in that last one that I also feel I’m giving authors the short straw. How quickly the average review takes me to write, even if I know I’ve written something the author would like.

It’s all those things and more. I can’t see myself switching reading methods, but it’s worth thinking about every so often – it has the potential to improve the method you have chosen. I know this most recent contemplation has made me read a bit slower, to aim to read more closely.

Have you ever suffered this conflict of interests? Which works best for you and do you adhere to it in practise?



September 16, 2013, 3:42 am

You’ve perfectly described a feeling I struggle with, but find hard to articulate. When I took my little blogging break in the summer I think I realized that just reading with no blogging obligations made me savor and appreciate the books I was reading in a way I wasn’t before. I’ve always admired Nicola at Vintage Reads – she only posts about once a month, truly savors the books she reads and doesn’t feel a need or responsibility to blog about every single book or more frequently. And I love and look forward to her posts! I don’t think I could ever only post once a month, but I do think I’m going to quit the twice a week thing.

Tanya Patrice

September 16, 2013, 5:13 am

Switching to only 1 review a week helped me with this tremendously. I got to read ahead of my schedule, and so now I’m able to take my time with a book, savor it’s juicy bits, and sit with it after I’m finished – just to think about it – before I start another book.

Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews

September 16, 2013, 8:56 am

I rarely write my reviews straight after reading because I think reflecting on my response to the title for days and sometimes weeks before putting pen to paper helps refine my thoughts. Fortunately I have been blessed with a really good memory so I think delaying writing my reviews does two things, (1) allows me to derive greater value from the titles I read, and (2) allows the more artistic and meaningful elements to shine through and let any transient niggles of mine influenced by external stimuli to recede from focus. I do think everyone needs to review the way it best suits them though, and believe the additional act of reviewing a work after reading it and hence publicising it in any form gives value back to its author and also to fellow booklovers. There is nothing wrong with working to a process, as long as it doesn’t spoil your reading enjoyment – positive action, however driven, is better than no action at all :-)


September 16, 2013, 11:07 am

Fantastic topic! I’ve thought of this a time or two. You’ve put my random little brainwaves into cohesive thoughts, so thanks for that! I let the whole PROCESS really get to me for a while. I’ve worked on that a bit this summer and I’m happy to say that it’s working a bit better for me now. I need to keep exploring though, to find that sweet spot. I want reading to remain enjoyable :D


September 16, 2013, 12:34 pm

As always a really though-provoking topic Charlie. I think my blog has worked best for me since I started viewing it as a reading diary for myself rather than a review site. I hardly ever refer to my posts as reviews anymore either. This change has a been a huge positive for me. My posts are short and concise as my diary might be and focus in on what I felt about the book rather than a critique of it. I think this style has also opened up the opportunity for more re-reads for me.

Jenny @ Reading the End (formerly Jenny’s Books)

September 17, 2013, 1:19 am

Huh. You know, I’ve sometimes struggled with writing reviews, but I’ve never felt differently about the reading — I’ve just felt at various times more or less interested in writing reviews of what I’ve read. I mean I haven’t had the feeling that I’m reading in some kind of production line, but I’ve had the feeling that I can’t keep up with the writing production line.


September 17, 2013, 6:19 pm

This is why I don’t review everything I read, some things I can’t even articulate and I’m not ready to share. But, I don’t think the speed of reading is doing a disservice, if I read a book quickly it generally means I really enjoyed it, not needed to rush through it.

In fact recently, I’ve found I’m only reviewing the books I’ve been getting of NetGalley, which actually confirms what you are saying, the deadlines are pushing me to review. But, I’m still taking my time over these books and I have some books that I didn’t request that I am going to do a blog on.

What worries me about my blogging recently, with the sign up to Netgalley, is that I am moving away from why I originally started blogging – I wanted to read books that were already out there, not the newly published ones. I need to get back to that, or find a balance.

I’ve gone a little off topic, sorry!

Very interesting topic of discussion.

Belle Wong

September 17, 2013, 9:02 pm

Interesting discussion. To be honest, my reading habits really aren’t conducive to writing reviews. I tend to go on reading blitzes, during which I’ll read – and thoroughly enjoy – book after book after book. I actually find when I stop between books to write up a review, I can lose that reading drive for a while, and then I find myself “not having read” for a week or so (thank goodness for audiobooks, actually – they keep me “reading” even during those times). Which, I guess, is my excuse for why I don’t write more reviews!


September 18, 2013, 3:18 am

I’m kind of the opposite from you–having spent so many years in school of one kind or another, I’m pretty resistant to deadlines and if I feel pressure to read or write, I may decide it’s not worth it. So I don’t have reading quotas or plans, and I don’t schedule posts, and I meander through blogland more than some. An occasional plan to read with someone or respond to something does me good, because it’s the closest I get to structure.


September 20, 2013, 4:31 am

I don’t think that writing about a topic other people have already talked about is bad! I mean, we all review many of the same books, right? :-)

I completely agree with what you say above. Often, reading now can feel very much like a “lather, rinse, repeat” situation. And with the volume of books read, it can be easy to forget books, too, even those you really enjoyed. Would I ever think of listening to an audiobook at 2X speed before blogging? I don’t know, but I do now. And I don’t even accept very many review books, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who accept a lot of books to review!


September 21, 2013, 3:00 pm

First, there is always room for personal experiences in blog writing! And you’ll receive different comments than whoever else wrote about it. No worries! I love posts like these.

Second, yes–for me something was lost in the “production line” type of reading. I found that I I don’t remember books as well because I don’t always let then sink in enough before hopping to the next book. It eventually lead to my burn out as a book blogger. Sometimes I wonder how bloggers can continue to keep up pace!



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