hey, it’s me again.
I don’t really want this post to come across as me being really needy and insecure (the title is exclusionary, of course). But, I am also well aware that the foundation of this post happens to be me being a little insecure. Nonetheless, I thought this post might be helpful to see if anyone feels the same and to talk about how we talk about books a bit.
In celebration of sharing insecurities in the blogging world I thought I would share Jayati’s post about blogging anxieties. It was a really relatable post and I recommend everyone checking it out.
For the regular folk of my blog, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I talk about books. As this is the internet (scary, I know) it means people can read what you put and possibly pick up a book because of you (scarier, I know).
In all seriousness, this is a good thing which frankly gives me a sense of accomplishment as a book blogger and even as a member of society. However, whenever someone says the words “I think I might check this book out now”, it can be momentarily followed by the feeling of existential dread. What if I have thrust upon them a book they are going to hate? What if they will hate me?
reality check: they won’t
How I still feel people will react to me after…
This is only a fleeting feeling as I tend to move on to the other stresses of life quite quickly, but it got me thinking: are my reviews worth following?
Okay, I will repeat the question (1) to make it a title and (2) for the dramatic effect…
Are My Reviews* Worth Following?
*reviews in this sentence include general commentary on books, as it has been months since I actually wrote a review.
doubts I have about expression my opinion:
OPINIONS CHANGE OVER TIME
No one is under the expectation that people’s opinions are never going to change about a book. But, sometimes opinion can change within a week after reading. Whether you realised it wasn’t as memorable or ground-breaking as you thought at the time. Or it turns out you can’t stop thinking about it, so you had completely undersold it before.
I can feel reluctant in expressing thoughts at times because they may change a week later. It can certainly lead to mixed messages and having something on your blog that you no longer find true, which is frankly frustrating. Sorry, audience, you are on this rollercoaster of emotions with me and no, you didn’t ask for it. If I can’t rely on my feelings, why should anyone else?
Of course, you can’t forget about changes in opinion over many years. It is more of an expected reaction as tastes (and standards) change. It can be quite alarmingly though. You look back at some of your past opinions and cringe a bit. Why did I love it so much??? Why did I write that on a public platform??? Some of my ‘favourite’ things from the past. Just no, thank you. It can make me want to hide forever. But it is natural to change opinions. Just got to remember that through the regret.
Not to forget (ironically), when you start forgetting things about the book, but still pretend you know what you are talking about. Not a good formula. Just stop, thank you.
BEING A CRITICAL REVIEWER??? (NOT SO MUCH)
I sometimes feel like the general rule is the more critical the reviewer, the more valuable the thoughts. They can be harder to please, so when they approve something, it is a golden prize. Plus, I feel like negative reviews can be popular nowadays. The ‘spill the tea’ mindset. (I can be a sucker for it too.)
I don’t think this is a general rule for everything, but I notice it at times. I can safely say I am not a critical reviewer. I would consider myself a positive reviewer in many ways, and sometimes I think that means a worse reviewer. I’m too easy to please. I have nothing new or interesting to add to conversations about books.
I know this is just my doubts playing around in my head. There shouldn’t be a case of a better type of reviewer. After all, all honest opinions about books add to the conversation. No requirements are necessary. Nonetheless, it is a worry I feel when expressing my opinion. Like I’m not good enough, smart enough or entertaining enough to be posting.
THE STRUGGLE OF CONVEYING MY THOUGHTS
This point is not limited to just talking about books, but for the sake of this post, I am limiting it to just talking about books. I have wrote many sentences about books and some sentences haven’t certainly been more profound than others.
You know that feeling when you’ve read the most wonderful book. You go to tell everyone about how this book made you feel something in your cold dark heart. But then nothing. You are staring at a blank page with no words coming to mind. Sometimes you manage a sentence like “This book was good” and then you are screaming at yourself to come up with more…
until you finally settle for “This was book was soOOo good” and call it a day.
Sadly, this struggle isn’t limited to the inability to gush about your favourite books to a sufficient and well-explained level. oh no. There is more…
- When talking about multiple books, such as a wrap-up, you don’t have that much space to communicate all the different emotions you felt for one book. You have to generalise your thoughts into two sentences. It is hard and sometimes feels incomplete.
- When the book was missing that extra something, but you can’t pinpoint exactly what it was missing. Therefore you just continually say the evasive phrase “it needed something more”.
- Lacking the ability to make your reviews poetically beautiful and stand out. The way some reviewers write is just stunning. I’m truly in awe, and then I’m convinced I have never written anything good in my entire life. Comparison is a very deadly game.
GENUINELY NOT KNOWING ENOUGH
Once again, I’m not under some illusion that people believe reviewers should know everything to do with the subjects of their books. Whilst it would be a super cool trick. It seems unrealistic for us all to be experts on everything from rocket science to Darius The Great’s reign to mathematic formulas. I mean history alone is so full of facts and I basically know next to nothing.
The reason why I am mentioning this is that it can cause you to think about a book differently and quite possibly incorrectly. For example, I may compliment a book on a rich historical atmosphere that examined the brutalities people had to endure in that time. Only to find out it was all poppycock and heinously inaccurate. The point is I wouldn’t realise because I straight up don’t know.
It brings in the thought of ‘reviewer responsibility’. In choosing to express an opinion in a public sphere, don’t we owe potential readers a response that accurately showcases the book’s integrity to the truth?
Woah, Woah, Woah… are we getting a bit too deep about screaming on the internet here? Yes and no.
Yes, because reviews are an expression of how a book made you feel more than anything.
No, because why would you want to be spreading misinformation? I’m not necessarily talking about little things. Like, it is unrealistic for this character to be alive given their injury because frankly, every fantasy book would be under fire here (although I am all for this changing). But, you should speak about massive inaccuracies. You may have to realise you aren’t the best to speak on these topics, and research is needed.
THE ROLE OF HYPE
Say I nail the review for my new favourite book. It is full of poetic sentences that somehow do the love I felt justice. Then there is the fact that… how can the book possibly live up to that review now?
You could say you can shoot yourself in the foot in a way. Because, even if they follow your opinion, through the review itself, you could have possibly made the book never reach the levels of love you described. Do you get what I’m trying to say?? It is easy to fall when you reach soaring heights. It is easy to disappoint when you say it’s perfect.
Maybe it is a slight case of overthinking on my part. But it also isn’t a totally pointless point. It’s why people say 3-star reviews are the most beneficial to read, as they should be the least biased, talking about good and bad points of the book equally.
With many people talking about books, it is only natural for there to be many different opinions. Some people may even have very out there reactions to books.
It is a good, nay… GREAT thing. It is something we are all a part of as we add our opinions into the mix. It may be an opinion in line with the hype or one against it. (dun, dun, dun) But, it is good to have an individual stance on things, but then again…
To have a different opinion, at least, to me makes me feel more pressure in articulating said opinion. I need to word it more profoundly and explain myself thoroughly. I think it links to genuinely feeling wrong for thinking something differently or something negative towards the book. People will think you are stupid, heartless or broken for feeling this way for the book. It’s one of those feelings where you know you shouldn’t feel that way, but you do anyway.
reality check: People don’t think you are stupid for feeling the way you do and you realise there is definitely someone out there that feels the same way you do.
This post wasn’t really supposed to have a purpose apart from sharing a few little insecurities. I know this is probably just me overthinking writing reviews on the internet.
It is easy to be doubtful when expressing your opinion and some reviews are easier to write than others. I don’t think there is a trick at getting comfortable with writing reviews. I think you improve over time as you get better at picking apart your opinion and being more content with putting it online.
I think it is always important to remember that reviews are not supposed to be a transfer of opinion from the writer to the reader. It is the sharing of opinions, and the readers get to choose what to do with them. You can trust us to give you our opinion, but don’t rely on us to tell you how you are going to feel. I know everyone knows this, but it is easy to forget and doubt my opinion’s worth. To feel like my reviews are stupid and missing the elusive ‘something’. At the end of the day, you only need reviews to be true. Just need to slow down on overthinking the rest.
So, to answer my original question… YES, my reviews are worth following.
Now you’ve witnessed all my insecurities about talking about books I hope we can still be friends.
Thank you for reading, and please let me know if you have ever felt the same.