Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reading as a Reviewer vs. Reading as a Reader


My experience with the act of reading changes often, depending on what book I'm reading and why I'm reading it. Since I'm linking up with Samantha from Bookish Serendipity for her Read. Blog. Discuss linkup, I want to talk about reading as a reader vs. reading as a blogger. Book reviews are a huge part of the blog-o-sphere, so I thought that Samantha was quite brilliant for suggesting that we bloggers discuss the differences between reading for ourselves and reading for a review. Here are my thoughts.

Personal Reading
These are the books that I pick up because I want to lose myself in them. I want the escape from my world into someone else's. I want to marvel at the way an author spins a story. I want to explore unique characters and their equally unique tales of growth. I want to laugh at character's witty comments. I want to be swept off my feet by a romance. I want to cry when a character dies or goes through something worse than death. I want to feel things. I read to extend my range of empathy, to understand myself better and to understand the people around me better. This type of reading is a primal one, an organic reason for reading, the reason why all of us bookworms started reading in the first place. This type of reading is driven by emotions.

Reading as a Reviewer
Since I read for escapism and general enjoyment, I find reading a book for the sake of reviewing a book (e.g. ARCs) puts a strain on total immersion in the story. I find that there's always this voice in my head reminding me to pay attention to the details, pay attention to the writing style (which we all know is supposed to disappear in a good book), and to be thinking about what I'm going to say in the review. When I know I'm expected to review a book before reading, it's like there's a veil dropped, stopping me for losing myself in the story and keeping my brain a little too much involved. This is why I signed up for Netgalley, but I didn't end up reviewing any books. I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy reading the e-arcs that I had downloaded, because I hated reading with an agenda. And if I'm not enjoying a book that I'm reading for fun, for my blog, what is the point?

All that being said, I do occasionally enjoy reviewing a book, and you will see those reviews scattered around A Splash of Ink's archives. However, the decision to review always comes after I've finished reading the book. Their is no plan to review when I start a book, instead the review is born out of feelings and questions that linger long after I'm finished a book.

I think with more experience in the book reviewing area, I could change that mindset and enjoy it a lot more, especially since I have so many good examples of awesome reviewers in the blog-o-sphere. However, A Splash of Ink isn't a book review blog, so I'm okay with just admiring all your reviews and reading as a reader for now.

Do you like reviewing books? Do you find a difference between personal reading and reading for a review? Am I over-thinking this? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments!

Reading: Beowulf
Listening: to someone madly typing in the library
Watching: Person of Interest

17 comments:

  1. There's a lot of freedom in reading for personal and reviewing after, just to share your thoughts. Reading because you already know you will have to write a review, and submit it back to the publisher or author, is quite stressful.

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    1. Yes! Freedom is a great way to describe it:)

      Thanks for commenting!

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  2. I don't really like reviewing books, I think. I mean, it's nice when I can give the author a thumbs-up on Amazon, but it's also really weird, because I don't read books to announce how much I like them. Reading is a very personal event, I guess I'd say, which goes away a little bit when you decide to share a review. :/

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    1. Hmm...reading as a personal event is a really interesting concept. I never really thought of it that way, but it's true! I don't have a problem with rating books on Goodreads and letting people know what I think of them, I just don't like the pressure of writing a review.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I really enjoy reviewing books, personally, because I like to share my thoughts. Like you said, there are some books I definitely know I want to review and share my thoughts on, and those reviews tend to be pretty lengthy. There are definitely books I enjoy reading themselves, but because of writing style, character, SOMETHING I give it a bad grade and I always feel pretty bad about it.

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    1. Yeah, I would feel bad about reviewing a book that I didn't like because I HAD to. I usually only write positive reviews:)

      Also, I too can get pretty rant-y and rave-y about books that I really loved, which result in long conversations or posts,haha.

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  4. I've noticed more of a difference in how I read since I've learned more about writing itself. I've read so many books on how to write, and that's affected how I read. Now I notice all the mistakes, plot holes, questionable grammar, weak characterization... It's gotten to the point where it's really rare for me to find a book that I actually like; if I feel like I need to take a red pen to the text, I'm probably not going to give that book a very good review.

    I rarely read anything these days without reviewing it. So I make notes as I go. I guess I don't really read as just a reader anymore; I read as a reviewer.

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    1. I have definitely noticed a difference in the way I read since I've studied writing and English. It does make me more critical, but it also helps me appreciate nuanced elements like symbolism and foreshadowing.

      And wow; I can't imagine reviewing every book I read. Good for you though!

      Thanks for visiting A Splash of Ink!

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  5. I agree with everything you've said in this post and it is something that I've thought about a lot. Sometimes I hate reading to review because I do definitely find myself thinking about what rating it's going to get and criticising things I probably wouldn't have thought about otherwise. That said though I don't tend to review based on writing style or character development, more my personal enjoyment of a book so a lot of the time I am able to just read and take it for what it is!

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    1. I think that your way of reviewing is very similar to mine. I usually just talk about my personal enjoyment. That's a great way to think about it:)

      Thanks for stopping by A Splash of Ink!

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  6. I definitely agree with you. But I love reviewing books so much! And plus it helps me remember more. When I didn't write my thoughts down, I ended up just forgetting what the book was about. But now I remember most things so I guess reviewing does help me. But I feel like it does hinder my enjoyment sometimes because I'm looking for things that I don't like. But oh well :P

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    1. Oooo! I'm terribly for forgetting a plot synopsis, so I find it really interesting that reviewing helps you remember. Maybe I SHOULD take up reviewing, just for that reason, haha. I'm glad that you found a way that works for you:)

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  7. I definitely understand what you're saying here, and I think I have to agree! With me, I generally review books only when I enjoy them, which takes some of the pressure off--but there is a difference between reading a book and thinking about how you'll review it and reading it just for the sheer pleasure of it. Reading for review can give you a different perspective on a book that's not all bad--I find if I'm anticipating writing a review I'll pay more attention to the pieces that make up a book and pick up things I might have missed otherwise, and I also think more critically about what I'm reading, which isn't always a bad thing. But there's more room for simple enjoyment when you're reading for the sake of reading, and I like that, too. I haven't written a review in awhile, mainly because of the time it takes to review all the books I like, and I kind of enjoy not having to worry about putting my thoughts into words. If I like it and want to recommend it, I just tell someone, and that's that!

    I can definitely see why you didn't like reading ARCs for review as much, and this is an interesting discussion post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :) Also: How are you liking Beowulf?

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    1. I totally agree with your comment. There's definitely something to be said about deeply reading a book, but the simple pleasure of enjoyment has merit too. Good call.

      As for Beowulf...I'm reading it for school. It's not as bad as I thought it would be, but it's certainly not like my favourite Y.A. novels, haha.

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    2. Haha, yeah, I get what you mean! I read Beowulf last year for an essay contest, and it was pretty good--just not my usual kind of thing. ;) It was interesting, though, and while I'd read/heard a recap of the story before, I liked getting a chance to read the whole thing.

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  8. I review absolutely everything I read, so...I pretty much just love reviewing. xD I review mostly, though, because my memory is insanely bad. I find just writing a few paragraphs on what I thought of the book actually helps me remember it.
    I often feel really pressured though when reading ARCS...like I need to like them?! And that sucks, because I don't want to lie about books. :( I think this is why I'm always at the library. I feel really free to think whatever I want about a book because I'm under no obligations. xD Weird of me, I KNOW!

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    1. That's not weird at all!

      It's interesting that a few people now have said that reviewing helps them remember. I have a TERRIBLE memory, so that might be a solution!

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