No, Karen. I Don’t Care What You Think -OR- Why Should You Review?

As I clicked the hollow stars next to the cover pic of the book I’ve just finished, making the shapes turn bright yellow, I felt a stab of guilt for not adding an additional review. I should’ve written something, right? Otherwise, how will anyone know why I picked three stars and not four? Or why I gave that book five stars but not another? I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I am just sitting here in front of my laptop screen arbitrarily choosing stars to mess with the ratings. If I don’t write something, how will people know that I actually read the book? At the same time though, I’m also wondering if everyone gets as tired of hearing everyone’s opinion as me? Maybe when it comes to book reviews ‘just the stars’ is good enough.

What do you guys think? In a culture wherein everybody is spewing their opinions about everyone and everything everywhere, do you ever ask yourself, does my opinion of a book even matter and will expressing it make me just one more person screaming into the chaos? 

I mean, in a world where everyone seems to have an all or nothing view about everything, why should I share mine? And who would even care? Like continually swirling bits of dust, posts and videos of why we should think, live, eat, exercise, believe a certain way surround us and fade into the background lit up only by an occasional ray of sun. We know they are there, but for the most part, we’ve stopped noticing. That is, until they get shoved into our noses catalyzing an expelling and messy sneeze. Maybe now is the time to take a break from the I-think-this-and-you-should-too club. Maybe we’d all get along better if we learned to shut up once and awhile. 

So, why should you review? 

Truth time. I don’t really know why you should review. And I certainly won’t tell you whether you should or how you should. What I will do, is tell you why I review?

The biggest reason I will take the time to jot out a few sentences on what I thought of a certain book is because I’m an introvert. I don’t like to talk, but I love to talk about books. In my real, non-fiction life, I don’t really get to talk about books much. Now before you feel too bad for me, know that I only have myself to blame. 

There are book clubs and other book communities I could join, but as I said… Introvert. Like bordering-on-recluse type of introvert. Unless I badger my husband into reading something I’ve read just so I can talk about it—which I do more than you’d think and very much to his chagrin—I don’t get to talk about why I loved or was unimpressed by a particular novel all that often. In my mind, if I write a little something online, another reader might see it and reply. Whether they agree or disagree, at least I can respond to them and so on and so forth so that my need to just-get-it-out is met in the least socially uncomfortable way. I guess I could be the only one, but I seriously doubt it. So, all you introverts bursting with thoughts about that new release, don’t be discouraged! Get online and tell me all about it.

Now does that mean that Goodreads and Amazon are filled with my thoughts on every book I’ve ever read? I wish. But along with being an introvert, I am also kind of lazy. And lazy sometimes (or a lot of times) wins out. That’s why I love everyone else’s reviews. Because even when I only manage to get my star ratings in, I can still read what other people thought and think about why I do or don’t agree. 

The other reason that I like to post reviews or, at the very least, rate books is because I’m an author. Whether we like it or not, reviews are important and the system seems to be designed in a way where reviews equals exposure to more readers. Every time I pick up a book, I know that the author is hoping for a review. Good or bad. I can’t speak for other authors, but I—most of the time lol—am fine with average or bad reviews. I’d rather people tell the truth in a review and I know that my faith-based books are not everyone’s cup of tea. Life goes on. 

That being said, I can generally find something good in every novel. Yes, there are certainly low and even one-star reviews of mine out there when something just really rubbed me the wrong way or maybe even because it caught during PMS lol. Who knows? But I do strive to find the nuggets that speak to me or that I can learn from in every story. 

In a nut shell, those are the reasons I post reviews. Your next question may then be if I decide to post a review, what should I put in it? Again, I won’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t post. It’s your words. It’s your feelings. But I will tell you what I will post which basically is ‘it depends.’ Sometimes, I just won’t shut up. I’ll go on and on about the plot or characters. I’d like to say that my essaying is for the benefit of the readers deciding whether or not to add a title to their TBR pile, but it’s not. More than likely, it’s because I feel strongly about a particular aspect of the story and I can’t help but word vomit it all out. I get my point across but I’m certain I used a billion words when only two would’ve worked. Loved it. Hated it. Brevity. It’s a good thing lol. I just sometimes forget.

Now whether I drone on or manage to only write a sentence or two, my goal is always the same. My intention is always to put into words how a book made me feel. Was it a roller coaster filled with twists and turns or harrowing tale of survival and courage? Was it a romance for the ages or just the right chick-lit binge read for a weekend at the beach? And the last reason, I try to let people know how a book made me feel is because there are just some books I can’t read. When I’m browsing reviews, I am also looking for those helpful trigger warnings. There’s a lot of abuse, trauma, and other pain out there. And we’re all working really hard to get/remain emotionally healthy. As much as I love fiction, I don’t want to do anything to endanger the progress I’ve made and I’m sure a lot of you are on the same road. It’s okay to pass up a best seller that isn’t what you need right now. And it’s also okay to shut a book you’ve started if it’s taking you somewhere you don’t want to go.

Because, yes, opinions are everywhere all the time. Only you can be the filter letting in the good and keeping out the bad. The answer to the world we find ourselves in isn’t to just keep our mouths shut all the time. Although sometimes it may be a good idea. Talking to myself here. If you want to post a review about a book you read, go for it! Just remember that your opinion, like mine, is subjective. Some will agree, some won’t. That’s. Okay.

And what should you say in that review? Whatever you want. I certainly don’t want to censor anyone, but I will caution you to remember that a real person wrote that book. A flesh and blood person with a history and a story. You might think the internet gives you anonymity but your words are the evidence of who you really are. If you have a bad moment and post something that, in the light of day, isn’t who you want to be, own it, apologize for it, and try to do better. We’re all in this together after all. Happy Reviewing!

Tell me what you like to put in your reviews!

If you want to continue the conversation, leave me a comment and tell me what you think about reviews. And while you’re here, be sure to stop on my CONTACT page and sign up to receive October’s newsletter. In it, I’ll talk my TBR pile and give you a chance to win a $10 Gift Card and a Bookmark!

One thought on “No, Karen. I Don’t Care What You Think -OR- Why Should You Review?

  1. Cindy Davis

    I am an introvert too! I am not in book clubs or anything like that, I do much better with 1 or 2 other people, any more than that and I get uncomfortable. I started a book blog about 6 months ago and I love it. I can interact with other book bloggers and I get a bit of community in that way, and it does the heart of this introvert good. I have started leaving a review for every book that I have read in the last 2 years. I joined a Facebook group and it has a lot of authors in it, and they were always saying how helpful reviews are. Well, I am also a helper so now I feel like I HAVE to review every book that I read, LOL. I am with you though, I always try to say something positive, even if I really didn’t like the book!

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