The Book Blogging Pressure to Review Books: A Discussion

At the very end of 2021, I published a post where I talked about 4 book-related resolutions that I had for the new year. One of those resolutions was to only write book reviews when I felt like it, and not force myself to review every or most books that I read. I ended up getting quite a few comments from people saying how they, too, felt pressured at times to review books, so I thought I’d write a discussion post about it!

So first of all, why do book bloggers, or people on other bookish media, feel pressured to review books? There’s quite a few different answers to this, and you can tell me your own reason below in the comments, but I think the answer is that we have the platform, and we feel like a lot of times, that’s what the platform should be used for. If we have book blogs, I mean that’s what the blog is for, right? So it feels like something that, as a book blogger, we’re obligated to do.
There are also times when we feel pressured because of how the platform is formatted. For example, on goodreads, as soon as you mark a book as read, it drops down a giant box asking you to review it, a box that takes up the whole page. It’s right there so it does make you feel pressured to review it.
And of course, there’s the idea of social media popularity. If you review a book (most specifically on goodreads in this case; I’m not very familiar with any other book platforms other than goodreads and blogging) you’re more likely to get likes on goodreads than if you simply rate a book. You’re putting your actual thoughts down, not just a simple out-of-five star rating.

For me, I used to feel pressured to review books because I thought I should show people what I actually think once I finished a book. It was definitely some of ‘you have a platform so use it’ and a little bit of the idea that I might get more likes if I review it. But here’s the thing: I did not like writing these long reviews on all the books. I just didn’t have that many thoughts on these books. Sure, I enjoyed them, but most of the books I read aren’t mind-bendingly good, in my opinion, or rant-ably bad. They’re just good books, but for books that are in the middle like that, I just don’t have enough things to say. And when I felt so pressured to write these reviews, I began to almost dread them. I would put off marking books as read on goodreads because I didn’t want to have to review them, and so my goodreads shelves just got all disorganized and stuff. And maybe that’s a small, silly thing – who cares what my goodreads shelves looked like? – it was also a small, silly reason to be putting off as simple a thing as marking a book as read.

So I want to ask you: why do you read? Do you read because of the popularity that comes from reviews? Do you read because you have a platform so you feel like you should be reading? First of all, if that’s the case, please try to find something that you actually enjoy reading and don’t read just for others. But my real point is, we read because we enjoy books. Because we love the stories that they provide, and the reason that we have book blogs, or other bookish media is so we can share that love with the world. But sharing what you love about a book should not come at the expense of your enjoyment of said books. Your blog is your own, and you should post what you want. Though book blogs have many uses, above all, they’re a place to show your love of books, not to advertise all the books you read because you think you’re obligated to. Reviewing a book is essentially free advertisement for an author (well, either that or you’re telling people to stay away if you didn’t like it) and no one’s making you do it! You are doing a favor by reviewing books and it is 100% your choice.

Now, what about ARCs? The main point of ARCs is, of course, to read and then review them, in order to get the news out about this new book, and get the hype up. And it is a privilege to be able to read a book before it is published and offer one of the very first glimpses into a book that anyone’s going to get. So I’m going to say a few things. First of all, obviously if you enjoy reviewing books and are just never tired of writing reviews, go ahead. I don’t know if I had to say that. But second of all, if writing reviews is sometimes a task for you, only request the ARCs that you are really, truly excited for. The anticipated releases that you’ve been following since they were first announced, the authors who you’ve loved since their debut. Often, we can get too swept up in the chance to read these totally new books and go on requesting sprees and end up with a whole bunch of books to read and review. So please – only request books that you really want to read and review. It’s a bit of a disservice to the author and publisher, when you are unable to review books.
The above being said – still put your mental wellbeing and reading enjoyment above anything else. If you are truly dreading reviewing an ARC, you just can’t get around to it and it’s putting you into a slump and making you unhappy…just don’t. While the point I made before this one was a preventative measure, this one is a more final measure. At the end of the day, it’s still your choice, and you should do what you really do think is best for yourself.

Personally, I’ve stopped requesting ARCs at all these days. It is true that at times I get jealous seeing people having read a book that I’m so excited for earlier than me, while I have to wait, but I find the pressure to review the ARC too be too much; in fact, I find it to be even more so than when reading a book that isn’t an ARC, because I just have this idea in my head that I have to review the book all through the time that I’m reading it, and that’s not fun.

All of this being said, am I telling you to stay away from reviewing books at all? Of course not. Even I still review most of the books on goodreads – but my reviews are just a sentence or two, simply my base thoughts on the book that I’m reading. When I really want to talk about a book, I’ll write a book review about it on my blog, because putting all my thoughts into goodreads is still exhausting and not something I enjoy (it’s true I don’t write many book reviews on my blog; I’m trying to get better about that, and writing a few more when I enjoy a book and want to talk about it).

I guess my final advice to you, and the main point I’m trying to get across with this post, is that it’s still your blog, and your goodreads account, no matter what, and you get to control how much or how little you put on there, what you put on there, etc. And overall, reading should be enjoyable for you. Reviewing books, while a big part of the book community, should feel like something you want to do to share your thoughts about the book you just enjoyed, and not ever a chore that you have to complete.

Do you enjoy reviewing books? Do you feel the pressure to review books because of your platform? How often do you write reviews?

Advertisement

25 thoughts on “The Book Blogging Pressure to Review Books: A Discussion

  1. This is a really interesting discussion. I think the pressure to review books comes from one’s own idea of what one’s blog is, at least in part. I personally feel zero pressure to review all the books I read because I from start knew I didn’t want to be a review book blogger but a book blogger who primarily posted all other kinds of bookish content. If you feel writing reviews is an essential part of who you are as a book blogger, then sure, the pressure will be there, but people also have to power to change this is. Like you say: It’s your blog. You can still be a book blog without writing any reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed! That’s true, it’s really your own idea of what your blog is, but honestly for me, most of the pressure to review books doesn’t come from my blog, but from goodreads, whose entire point is literally to review books. With my blog, I definitely don’t feel as pressured to review books because, like you said, I know that’s just not what my blog is for. I’m glad you don’t feel this pressure to review books, and thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely agree with you- being a book blogger comes with the pressure of having to write reviews, and that can get tiring after a while. Honestly, I haven’t written a review in over 2 months, but for once, I am not feeling … guilty, you know? Reviews (of not-so-popular books, especially) don’t get that much attention anyway, which makes you feel you put in all that effort in vain.

    Loved reading this post Phoenix- agree with all of your points!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesss, thank you. writing reviews is tiring, and I feel like more so than other posts because while other posts might have lists and such, reviews are just straight up your opinions of one specific topic, and it can be difficult to think of what to say. YES, I’m glad that you’re not feeling guilty about not having written a review, good for you! And yeah, I have also noticed that posting reviews doesn’t get as much attention as some other types of posts, which is kinda interesting? I wonder why that’s the case?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know right!
        Thank youu!
        I feel like people just don’t want to be influenced by other people’s thoughts, maybe? Because honestly, I rarely read reviews either, and it’s either because of this or because of the fact that it’s a spoilery review…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post! I agree that a lot of books I read I just don’t have a lot of thoughts, but I do usually feel like I should be writing reviews for my blog even though I rarely feel motivated to write them. So this post is definitely making me rethink that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! Yeah, I mean a lot of the books I read, sure I enjoyed them, they were great books, but it’s not like after every single book I read, I have extremely in depth thoughts about every little thing that happened. If I have some thoughts on a book, great, if I don’t, whatever! I’m so glad that this post made you rethink about posting reviews, hope that it helped!

      Like

  4. This is such a great discussion, Phoenix! I personally don’t feel a whole lot of external pressure to review books – I basically never do it on goodreads and I don’t ever request ARCs either. The list of books I want to read is already so endless that I don’t mind waiting a few months for the book to actually come out – in fact, I prefer it that way because that means by the time I read a book, more people will have read it and be able to discuss it with me! šŸ¤—

    I do write a book review every once in a while on my blog, but I usually only write them when I have a lot to say, i.e. when I absolutely adored or positively hated a book šŸ˜ Although I do try to keep the content on my blog varied to prevent monotony, so I must admit that sometimes, I do get the nagging feeling of “Hey, you haven’t written a review in a while, you should probably do one again soon” šŸ˜… And every once in a while, I do also accept review requests from authors whose books sound interesting, because I do want to help give Indie writers a bigger platform to promote their work…

    BUT: While I love having the finished reviews to start discussions and to go back and check on later, I have to admit that I positively HATE writing them šŸ˜… My reviews are usually ginormous spoiler-filled rambles, so they take way more work than other posts, and what can I say? I’m lazy šŸ˜‚ So the time commitment is beyond annoying!!

    Plus, although I don’t write a full review for every book I read, I do write shorter reviews for all of them in my wrap-up — and yes, I feel the pressure there. Similar to the long reviews, that’s more of a personal than external thing, though. I love having those wrap-ups as a way to look back on my reading journey, and I love how it gives me opportunities to exchange opinions with other members of the book community. So on the whole, even though they are a massive pain to write, I think that pain is worth it in the end šŸ˜ I write reviews when I want to, and even though it might be annoying sometimes, I think the end product is worth it.

    But I also don’t think reviews are at all necessary to be a good book blogger! In fact, I rarely read them myself; I much prefer creative weird posts, tags, and (as you can probably tell from this monstrous comment šŸ˜œ) discussions šŸ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, I’m so glad that you enjoyed! Haha yeah, I usually don’t mind waiting a few months to read a book when it comes out, it’s just the jealousy that comes when there’s a book that I’m very much anticipating and I see that other people have already read it…like I want to be the first!!! It is true that being able to discuss books is great.

      Yeppp the feeling of almost never writing book reviews on your book blog is big for me, as well. But I totally agree, I hate writing reviews!!! It’s just so difficult for me as well, I just don’t know what to say that aren’t spoilers. I’m a very plot-centric reader, like the thing that I enjoy most about the book is definitely the plot, and when you’re writing reviews, you can’t talk about the plot all that much.

      Personally, I find wrap ups, and mini reviews in wrap ups, to be really nice. It doesn’t make me feel like I *have* to write a certain length (I usually feel like the book reviews I write are too short, and I have to push to make them longer!) and it’s just a little insight into what I thought. I think that if you dislike writing them, you definitely shouldn’t do that to yourself – you could always try to shorten them a little bit, or only talk about the ones that stood out to you the most.

      Yesss, I agree. I’ve found that book reviews seem to be one of the least-enjoyed contents that I put out, I always seem to get the least likes on reviews and such. And of course, weird posts and discussions are always fun to read.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I’m a very character-centric reader, so I actually always have quite a bit to talk about when reviewing books! Although I do also like going into detail about the plot – which is why most of the full reviews I write are actually spoiler-filled ones šŸ˜… I just wouldn’t know what to ramble about otherwise!

        As for the wrap-ups: While I don’t like writing them, I do love going back and reading them! It’s really nice to have some more detailed thoughts on each book that I can return to – particularly since I don’t record those thoughts anywhere else, have the memory of a goldfish, and love seeing what I thought of a book way back when! So the torture of writing the wrap-ups actually feels worth it to me šŸ˜‚

        I do have a bit of a different experience with book reviews though – while they initially don’t get a lot of attention, mine are somehow always the posts that get the most attention in the long run. My most viewed posts of all time are all book reviews, actually šŸ˜… Still, people rarely take the time to comment on reviews, so even if they are only initially popular, weird posts and discussions that lead to lots of engagement will always remain my favorites to write and read šŸ„°

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, well that’s nice that you can write a lot in your reviews at least! The spoilers really are the true problem with reviews!

        Well, I suppose it really just depends on how it ends up weighing out, if you dislike writing them more than you enjoy reading them or vice versa! I’m glad that they’re a useful resource for you once you’ve finished writing them, and I’m glad it’s worth it for you!

        Oh wow, that’s really interesting! I definitely feel like my book reviews get much less attention, though I honestly haven’t looked at my views over all time and how that pans out. Yeah, the engagement on book reviews is definitely not something very big, which can be a little disappointing!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an interesting discussion. I actually really enjoy writing reviews because it helps me really think about the book and see what I enjoyed and what I didn’t, plus I like having to squeeze my brain to see how I’m going to talk about everything in a way that makes sense. That’s not to say I write reviews about every book I read (I definitely don’t), but I’ve found that writing reviews, even if they’re on the shorter side, helps me remember books. For instance, if I check goodreads to see what I thought of a book I forgot about and just see a star-rating, even if it’s 5 stars, chances are I won’t be able to decipher what I thought about it, a review, on the other hand, truly does help. Sometimes I won’t write reviews and just jot down some notes in that section that only you can see.

    As for pressure, I don’t think I feel any. On the contrary, writing a review sometimes helps when I have no other post ready, because I can usually put together some thoughts about what I read relatively fast (my English degree does have its use apparently). So yeah, reviews are sometimes a life-saver. As for which ones to write, I’ll usually focus on ARCs and ALCs (although depending on where I get them from I might sometimes only post a shorter one on goodreads) and will only write other ones when I have a lot to say about a book or I want to make everyone read it because I loved it that much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s a really good thing to think about, the way that writing reviews helps you remember a book more! As someone who cannot for the life of me remember what the heck happened in a book I read last week, writing reviews for that reason does seem useful…

      I’m glad that you don’t feel pressure to write reviews! Ah, that does sound like an excellent use of an English degree, and lucky you! I’m glad to hear about some of the positive sides of writing reviews for you! (would love to read a post about it – kind of like an opposite post from what I wrote haha)
      Thank you so much for stopping by and giving your opinion!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This discussion is something I’ve been noticing myself as a book blogger who mainly reviews books! I genuinely love putting my thoughts on a book out there for other bloggers to read & because I love approaching my reviews in a more detailed way, but it can be draining at times thinking about how I’ll review it or if I’ve written “enough.” Your post highlights something important, at the end of the day it should be enjoyable & its okay not to review every book. That’s something I’m going to think about more as a blogger, great discussion Phoenix.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that you enjoyed this discussion and that it resonated with you! Yes, reviewing books is always a good thing when you’re putting your thoughts onto a page and showing others your thoughts, but it can definitely become too draining/too much about other people rather than yourself and how much you want to write about the book. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s