Posted by: Matt | June 6, 2007

Reviewing Reviews

I’ve decided to change up the way I do reviews. I’m going to be adding some things that I think will make them a little bit more fun. These new ideas are actually borrowed from reviews I’ve seen on other blogs, they looked like good ideas.

For the most part my reviews will stay the same, but I’ll be adding some features. I will now list my reasons for reading the book. Why was it added to the TBR list, why did I decide to read it at that time? That sort of thing.

I will also be including a quote from the book that I found significant. It could be that the quote was funny, beautifully written, insightful or just meaningful to me personally.

I always somewhat dread writing reviews, I’m hoping that by mixing it up a little bit they will become fun. And maybe it will make them better for you too! The first of my new reviews will post tomorrow…

Update: I’ve realized this morning that I need to be a bit more honest with myself in my reviews. I think I’m allowing myself to be too influenced by others and have sometimes been giving a book a higher rating than I really should have. You can see in the comments to this post that I attribute this realization to Bibliolatrist who is certainly not afraid to say what she thinks.

I have changed my ratings on Being Dead and Blindness.



  1. I know what you mean about the dread that comes with writing reviews. Although writing them is a portion of my income, I always dread sitting down and getting them started. For some reason, though, I find it much easier to write about a book I hated than the ones I really liked. When the book is good, I spend more time worrying about whether or not I’m able to do it justice.

  2. I always intend to add a quote from a book, but rarely do. Sigh.

    Best of luck on the new reviews!

  3. marydell – I also find it easier to write reviews for books I didn’t like. I think the review that was easiest for me to write was Being Dead, which I did not like much at all.

    Bibliolatrist – You’ve actually inspired me, I realized this morning, to be a bit more honest with myself in my reviews. I feel like I might be letting my reviews be influenced by others too much. I could sense this with my reviews of Being Dead, although I kind of panned it, and Blindness which I now wish I had given a lower rating… So thanks!

  4. A pertinent quote always works nicely in a review. Looking forward to these new exciting reviews! I know you and most others use a rating system but I find it so difficult. Miss indecisive I am.

    I just finished an ed unit and at the lecturer asked us to write a number between 1 and 10 to self-evaluate what class participation mark we should get. She had already written down our grades but if there was a discrepancy of more than 2 marks she would get in touch with us. Long-winded story I know, but she won’t find my piece of paper. I couldn’t rate myself so I decided I’d graciously accept the mark she gives me.

  5. I’m looking forward to seeing the changes you put into place. Not that your review have been bad by any means!

    Have you seen Arukiyomi’s blog? He’s near the top of my blogroll, starting with A and all. He does some fun things. He keeps a list of words he had to look up. Sometimes he quotes the first or last sentence, or throws in some other quotes. He rates the book on a scale he made up. I got my “this book’s fate” idea from that.

    When I’m reading, if there’s something that I think I’ll want to quote or comment on, I just fold a tiny bit of the corner of the bottom of the page. Then when I’m done, it helps me remember what I wanted to say.

    I’ve been thinking of including more author info in my reviews.

  6. I meant to comment on your review of Being Dead because I hated (hated!) it. I’ll dig around for the review I wrote because it was not nearly as kind as yours. If I find it, I’ll post it to BookBlog.

  7. Literary Acquisitionist – I find that a rating is helpful as a very concise summary of the book. It can be difficult to decide upon though, hence my having to review my reviews.

    Dewey – I have seen Arukiyomi’s blog, in fact it is likely one of the inspirations for my changes.

    marydell – Looking forward to reading that review if you post it!

  8. I used to feel really bad rating a book badly, but now I don’t.

    I believe that books need to provoke visceral, passionate responses, otherwise books will continue to take a backseat to television and movies.

    Some of my best reviews were for books I’ve rated a 6, but even more were for books I’ve rated a 1 (or, even better, a 0). So, in a way, a bad review’s, like, an honor. (Or something. Yeah, right.)

  9. Bibliolatrist – I think I enjoy writing bad reviews more than good reviews, I tend to get more worked up about something terrible than something good. That’s probably a bad thing. My wife always jokes that it’s nearly impossible to tell when I’m excited (in a good way) about something, but she always knows when I don’t like something. I think you’re right about books needing to provoke passionate responses. Definitely.

  10. It takes some motivating for me to get started on a review. I find the reviews for books that I like but don’t “really” like to be the most difficult to write most of the time. And then the books that I do not like. I don’t like to be too critical and I think that’s one of my weaknesses. I’m more of an encourager in real life.

  11. you could look at it this way… there are ALWAYS good bits and bad bits in books you write. Even the best books have weak points. So, be passionately for and against them to varying degrees no matter what you read. That way, you’ll spark off some sort of discussion.

    I’m very flattered to have been something of an inspiration in the blogosphere 😉

    The reason Arukiyomi is the way it is is because reading is a journey for me; it’s a learning experience. When I read, I keep little tiny post-its marking all the stuff that goes into the blog. I teach English so new words are invaluable to me. I’ve travelled a huge amount and so the locations the book covers inform my geographical awareness. I’m into anthropology so the cultural aspects of how others live fascinate me etc etc… that’s how I choose what to put in my reviews.

    I think I speak for more than myself when I say that writing reviews, collecting info from books and the whole blog thing is pretty much for my own benefit. if others If others like it and can themselves learn from it, so be it. At the end of the day though, it’s my own journey and I like to leave a paper trail.

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