Writing book reviews: The pros and cons and why I need a break…

So here’s a good way to deal with negative reviews.

I’m slowing down a bit on how many posts I have on my blog because it just takes a lot of time, and, well, I’m feeling a bit lazy about this right now. I could use the Holidays as an excuse, but that’s not entirely truthful. I plan to get back to doing more reviews at some point in the new year, but I also want a break to just read for fun.

Undertaking the writing of reviews was an endeavor I had some trepidation about, but it’s been a good experience for the most part. Reading a book with the intent of reviewing it at the end–in a more concrete way than a gut reaction–has made me think about the nature of reviews and writing in a new way. It’s hard to write a quality review, and I don’t know if I’ve always succeeded.

As a fiction writer, I already think about the nuts and bolts of writing while I’m crafting my stories, but in the context of reviewing, I’ve gotten a new take on the process. For one thing, I’ve had to refine and define what it is that I like about a particular story, writing style, word usage, length, etc. Art is subjective–both in the making and consuming of it.

It’s important to keep this subjectivity in mind when reading or writing a review. Sometimes a completely irrational thing makes me dislike a book–I don’t connect with a character, a situation reminds me of an unpleasant memory, I wanted more or less of a certain aspect. Also, there are many theories¬†about style. Some are sticklers for grammar (like me, for the most part) and some don’t care as much or intentionally play fast and loose with rules for a particular reason. Honestly, I think it’s difficult to do the latter successfully because you have to convince the reader that you’re breaking the rules for a good reason.

So at this point, a break is in order. I want to focus on my own writing and take some time to read for relaxation. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts about writing and reading reviews. What do you look for in a book you enjoy? What makes a review helpful to you as a writer or reader?