hello hello 👋 Today i have an original book tag to share – my first ever original book tag, in fact!!* I’m calling it The Book Reviewing Tag, and as you can probably tell from the title, it’s all about book reviewing.
Book reviewing mostly tends to focus on the books themselves, which makes sense–that’s what the reviews are for, after all–but with this tag I wanted to take a more a meta approach to book reviewing. The questions in the tag, then, are about the review writing process in general, as well as your thoughts on specific book reviews you’ve written. (If you’ve been reviewing books for a long time, and have a hard time choosing answers for some of the questions, you can narrow it down to books you’ve reviewed this year, this quarter, etc.)
That being said, if this book tag sounds interesting to you, please feel free to copy the questions and share it to your book blog/booktube channel/bookstagram/whatever platform you share your bookish content to. Just make sure to tag me in the posts so I can see your responses! 😊 (All my social media are linked at the end of this post.)
*I did do a search through WordPress and Google to see if anyone’s done something similar to this before and didn’t find anything. That being said, if you have do a have book reviewing tag that’s pretty similar to this one, please let me know!
What’s your review writing process like (do you write notes somewhere, make annotations, highlights, etc.)?
Generally speaking, I like to take notes in my Notes app while I read, and also highlight any quotes that I like while reading the book. I’ve been trying to incorporate more quotes into my reviews because personally, I find them such an effective way of convincing me to read a book, and also because I think they give you a good idea of what kind of writing you’re likely to find in that book. I’d say those are pretty much the only two things that I tend to do in terms of prepping for book reviews.
What do you struggle with most when it comes to writing book reviews?
Timing. The more time passes between my finishing a book and writing a review for it, the less likely I am to actually end up writing a review for that book. Mostly, this is because the book isn’t as fresh in my mind anymore, so it’s harder to think of things to say about it and also to be more specific when talking about it.
Your favourite review(s) that you’ve written
It usually takes me a long time to write reviews, and that’s mostly because I like writing in general, and really try to challenge myself and my writing with those reviews. My favourite book reviews, then, are ones whose writing I’m happy with, and that I think effectively conveyed not just what the book is like, but also why I liked it/how it made me feel.
I’d say my favourite reviews that I’ve written are generally ones that I wrote for books I loved. More recently, I was very happy with the review that I wrote for The Other Mother by Rachel M. Harper, which has been my favourite book of the year so far. I also loved the reviews I wrote for The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter (tr. Frank Wynne) and Trust by Hernan Diaz–two very different books whose content I really enjoyed delving into in their reviews. As for last year, I loved the reviews I wrote for Abigail by Magda Szabó (tr. Len Rix), Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung (tr. Anton Hur), and Homesickness by Colin Barrett.
A review that you struggled to write
The hardest reviews for me to write are always the ones for books I really loved–the 4.5- or 5-star books. When it comes to books I dislike, I always have a running list of what I dislike about them as I read them so that by the time I sit down to write the review, it pretty much writes itself. The review effectively becomes a space for me to vent about all the things I disliked about the book lol (e.g. my review of The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan).
With books I loved, though, it’s hard because I always feels like everything I say pales in comparison to how the book actually made me feel and how much I actually loved it. (Every time I write a review for a book that’s a new favourite I have to do a Ctrl+F search for “so”–“I loved these characters so much,” “the story was so compelling,” etc.–because I inevitably end up overusing it to compensate for how hard I find it to express how I felt about that book. 🤷♀️)
General thoughts aside, I found this to be especially the case when writing my reviews for The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye (my favourite book of last year), Little by Edward Carey (my favourite book of the year before that), and Milkman by Anna Burns, which was such a strange and utterly unique book that I didn’t even know how to begin talking about it.
A review you still want to write
I have so many books for this one. There are a lot of amazing books I read last year that I just never ended up writing reviews for, and would love the chance to talk about so I can hype them up a bit more. Namely, Alligator by Dima Alzayat, Devotion by Hannah Kent, and Negative Space by Lilly Dancyger. From this year, I also really want to review Either/Or by Elif Batuman and A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandria Rowland. All of these are favourites, so you can see why I’ve been dragging my feet when it comes to writing reviews for them.
A review that you don’t want to/won’t write
Pretty much any romance novel that I’ve given 3 stars to. Though I do read a lot of romance, most of it tends to fall into the category of just okay or enjoyable but forgettable. Those are the books that I don’t write reviews for because they just leave zero impression on me. I have nothing to say about them, so writing a book review for them seems like a bit of a moot point.
Your most popular review(s)
Every single one of my most popular reviews is a negative review, which I guess isn’t all that surprising. I think my most popular review ever is the one I wrote for Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, which somehow–I have no idea how this happened tbh–shows up as the first search result on Google when you look up “Hamnet negative review.” It is consistently my most popular blog post, which is funny because I didn’t promote it or talk about it any more than I did with my other blog posts. It just kind of blew up out of nowhere. (Maybe because it won the Women’s Prize?)
My other most popular reviews are on Goodreads: by far the most popular one is my 1-star review of Find Me by André Aciman, which continues to be one of the worst books I have ever read. Another book whose review is pretty popular and which I also continue to despise is The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo.
How you feel about your book reviewing this year
I feel really good about my book reviewing this year, actually! I feel like last year I read a lot, but I didn’t really make reviewing a priority as much as I wanted to, and got lazy when it came to writing reviews for most of the books I was reading (especially the ones I enjoyed). This year I’ve made the conscious decision to write reviews for most, if not all, the books I read, so long as I have something to say about them. And I’ve been doing well when it comes to sticking to that decision. Out of the 58 books I’ve read this year, I’ve written reviews for 33 of them (and that’s not counting the reviews I’ve written for books I’ve DNFd)–which is a number I’m happy with. Hopefully I can continue to do that throughout the year.
Anyway, that’s all for me!! I had a lot to say, which is pretty much the reason I wanted to do this tag in the first place lol. Please let me know if you decide to do this tag and feel free to tag anyone else if you do decide to do it! 😊