Novel Thoughts: Has Book Blogging Made Me Too Critical?

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on February 12, 2014 | 40 Comments


This discussion kind of stems from a discussion I had not too long ago about hype.

Has being a book blogger made me a critical reader?

Sometimes when I read a book and write down every single complaint I have, I wonder: If I weren’t writing down all these complaints, would I enjoy this book more? If I didn’t keep track of the complaints, would I forget them instead of dwelling on them?

If I’ve been subjected to the Hype Monster, I’m probably likely to get my hopes up too high and end up being disappointed. If I wasn’t submersed in the book world and hadn’t heard about the hype, would I have liked it more?

In my reviews, I usually go over as many aspects of the book as I can in detail, and give them all a final rating in the end (i.e. world building, writing style, characters, etc). If I didn’t end up picking apart the whole book to examine under a magnifying glass, would I have liked it more?

Sometimes I really wonder if I would enjoy reading more overall if I didn’t review the books I was reading. Do any of you ever have this feeling?

Jessi (Geo)

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40 responses to “Novel Thoughts: Has Book Blogging Made Me Too Critical?

  1. Luckily, I don’t write down the complaints I have in a book, just because I would probably enjoy a book less if I would. I just don’t like writing down every complaint or keep track of everything. I just want to read the book and after reading the book I’ll most likely pick another book and write a review for the finished book. I would go into depth about the complaints. I will write my overall problems with the book – if there were any. I think it’s less stressful if you don’t write down every complaint you have with a book.

  2. I’m glad I don’t have this problem. I don’t write things down while I’m reading a book, unless I’m taking breaks, so I let myself get captivated (hopefully) or not (not so good) without worrying about any potential review. Once I’m finished, I let it sit for a while and then I start with the positives and negatives.

  3. Oh yeah, I definitely think about this sometimes too, but I don’t think that blogging has in any way affected my reading habits, apart from me buying ten times as frequently, haha! But I was already quite critical even before blogging, and I guess all those opinions I had then was the reason why I decided I wanted to book blog. So yeah! I hope you don’t try to look for things to complain about in books though! Just read them at your own pace and with no prior thoughts from the hype and all that :D

  4. I have definitely thought about that and it’s probably true in some way. I’ve recently decided not to review every book I read anymore because of this reason. On the other hand I feel like I understand and appreciate the story more when I analyze it and think about the different aspects of the book. I just need to find a balance between the two. I’m only reviewing books where I naturally have strong feelings about, meaning: less analyzing when it comes to reviewing the book but still enjoying reading it.

    • My OCD won’t allow me to read things and not review them haha >.< That's a good idea, though! If you have strong feelings about a book, it's easier to review. It's so difficult to review the books you don't care about either way!

  5. Hmm, no, I don’t think it has made me too critical. There are definitely more things I look at than before, but I still enjoy the books I expect to love :) If I have a problem with something, it would have bothered me in the past too. I actually like that I’m better at telling why I like or dislike a book. It make me feel more secure about my opinion, especially if someone in real life would question me about it. Otherwise I’d only be like ‘OH MY GOD IT’S AMAZING’ and now I can point out all the aspects I liked.

    • True! I hate it when I have nothing to support why I didn’t like a book. I feel like it gives my opinion more credit when I can back those claims! Great point, Mel!

  6. Probably you would, but is that a good thing? The problems don’t go away just because a reader ignores them, they just slip past your critical thinking center if you’re not using it. And depending on what problems we’re talking about, they may not be something you want slipping into your subconscious unchallenged. The occasional “relaxed” read is nice, but I wouldn’t want that to be my primary state.

  7. I know what you mean. Sometimes I finish a book and think, “I really liked that!” But then I sit down to write my review and since I’m now thinking about the book more carefully/critically, I find a lot of negative things to comment on, and my rating goes down as a result.

    Or, sometimes I read a book and I can tell that I’m REALLY liking it. But, I know that if I were to stop and look closer I would find plot holes or things to criticize. But since I know I’m really loving the book, I force myself to just keep going and not stop and think about the issues, because I don’t want to ruin my enjoyment.

    • YES! Me too! Sometimes I would have given the book a higher rating, but then when I realize how many complaints I have about the book, it gets lower…and lower…

      That’s probably what I should start doing >.<

  8. YES! I tried to read a book just for the sake of reading it, and even though I had no intent of ever reviewing it, I kept picking out flaws here and there and it was so annoying because I just wanted to enjoy what I was reading and stop nitpicking everything. Book blogging has definitely made me super picky and it really is annoying because while my reading taste has improved I can’t enjoy as many books anymore. Fantastic post, Jessi! <33

  9. You know, I’ve been wondering this same exact thing lately. Like, I used to read and not take notes or anything. I would just dive into the book and lose myself, but now that I’ve started blogging, I’ve been taking notes and really giving the stink eye on some things that I probably wouldn’t have before. I mean sure, it helps me write my reviews, but I feel like I’m not losing myself completely like I used to. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! That’s a comforting thought, at least! Great post, girly! I love reading your discussion posts, even if I don’t always have the time to comment!! <3

    xo, Becca

    • Me too!! Taking notes means I get way more complaints for my reviews. But at the same time, I like to have reasons to support why I didn’t like something, and even if I wasn’t taking notes, those things that bug me would still lessen my enjoyment of the book. I just wouldn’t remember them! So then I feel like I would lose credibility because I would just say “I didn’t like this, just because” and people would be like, “Well that’s not a reason!!!”

  10. I don’t write down my complaints, but I’ve been noticing the things that bother me a bit more. It doesn’t really hamper my enjoyment, but it does affect my review and overall rating. But while I’m reading, I try not to think about what I don’t like. I save all that for the end and then I sort it out and weigh my options and ta-da! Mixed review, haha. For the mots part, though, I know what I like. I know what works for me, what doesn’t, what I’ll let slide if it turns out how I want it to. So I do enjoy most books I read. All reviewing does is make me realize how lenient I am o.o Which I don’t think is good at all aha

    • I wish I could do that, but I forget things too easily! Being lenient isn’t bad, it just means you enjoy books more often! I only give 5 stars to like every 10th book =/

  11. Cee

    At times, I do feel like being a book blogger made me a critical reader, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It just made me see what I like or dislike in a book clearly. I can concisely tell people the reasons for or against a book (which I was never able to do in the past) and I love that. I find that when I go over everything in the book in detail, I remember more of the story. It’s helpful to me, especially since I have major book amnesia. I I think even if I read a book for fun, I will still be bothered or annoyed at certain things.

    • Good point! I do like to be able to give reasons for my opinion because I feel like it gives me more credibility. And YES, same here! I forget details very easily, and if I don’t write them down I’m completely lost >.<

  12. I’ve definitely considered this even throughout my short time (so far) of blogging. And another thing to consider is that, since you’ve been reading a lot of good and bad books alike, your expectations on books become higher as you read. And when you find faults in a bad book, you’ll kind of be on the lookout for similar things on new reads which’ll probably cause you to not enjoy them. Great post, Jessi!

  13. I’ve always been an analytical reader/movie watcher, so I think all the things I notice now as a blogger are still things I’d notice if I weren’t reviewing. But it’s true that I often feel like I always have to point out some sort of nitpick even in books I enjoy, or else people may think I’m not noticing the flaws, if that makes sense? It’s kind of a pre-emptive move in case there are negative responses to those things, I guess, so I can say “yeah, I noticed this, and maybe it would have been better if they weren’t there” OR “I noticed this, but it really didn’t bother me.”

    I will say, however, that I do feel relief when I’m reading a book purely for pleasure and don’t have to take notes. So you may be right that it’s a more enjoyable experience if you don’t always feel like you have to be paying so much attention or reading something with your critical eye.

    • Totally makes sense! Sometimes when I see blogs that ONLY post positive reviews, I question their credibility. Are they a lenient reader? Are they just being nice, or did they really enjoy it?

      I’m a pretty picky/critical person anyway, so maybe I’d still notice the things if I wasn’t taking notes…but I wouldn’t remember them! Then I’d have nothing to support my reasons for not liking the book. But maybe I should do pleasure reads every once in a while!

  14. I don’t know that my years as a blog blogger has made me more critical really. I can tell you that it has freed me up to allowing myself to DNF a book (I NEVER would have done that before). But here’s the big thing I’ve noticed …. I’ve taught myself to choose what I read better. Very rarely do I pick up a book that I absolutely hate. I have made myself realize exactly what will work for me and what doesn’t. So I end up reading a lot of books that I glowingly review, which can be suspect at times I will admit, but its really just the fact that I know what I will like and won’t like and am able to pick and choose better for my tastes.

    • Me either! I’m glad I can let go now (I used to be like, “if I started it, I HAVE to finish it!!”), because I would have wasted a LOT of time on books I didn’t like.

      See, I just can’t do that. Because of that list of criteria, and the fact that there’s no label telling me whether they’ll be in a book or not, I can’t judge based off of a 2 paragraph synopsis.

  15. I’ve thought about this before…I’ve definitely become a much more critical reader now that I’m a book blogger and I’m a “serious” reader (lol). But I think that just comes from how many MORE books I’m reading. And, like you said, reviewing probably comes into play, too. Sometimes I finish a book, have a general idea of how many stars I want to give it, and then after writing my review, realize that I can no longer justify the amount of original stars I was going to choose because of all of the things I realized were wrong with it after succinctly writing out my thoughts. But I think I’m still enjoying the book the same…I’m just becoming more thoughtful and perhaps picky over which books really deserve a certain number of stars. I think that ultimately I’ve benefitting more from my new-found criticalness than the other way around. Or at least that’s what I’m going to tell myself :P

    • I do the same thing! I’ll feel like I enjoyed a book, but then I start to talk about things that bothered me, and I end up with 4 paragraphs of complaints! Then my rating ends up being lower. Great point!!

  16. Such good questions! I often think the opposite actually, though. I guess mainly because I wouldn’t even KNOW about half (maybe more than half) of the books that I’m exposed to if I weren’t blogging and reviewing. And even though I’m more critical than I would potentially be, I’m also that much more aware of a book blowing my socks off. So, yeah, I guess the mediocre books I recognize as being mediocre more than I would have before. But I also appreciate that great ones more than I would have too. I think.

    • That’s a VERY good point! Because I’m so picky, when I rate a book 5 stars it’s because it was AMAZING and you definitely know it! I do appreciate the good ones more, because it’s hard for me to find those gems these days.

  17. I don’t take a lot of notes, unless I’m reading on my Kindle but I definitely am more critical when I’m reading for review than when I’m reading for fun. Reading for review and reading for fun are two different activities so it would be odd if I weren’t more critical when reading for review.

    There’s no question that being part of the book world and being more plugged into the hype has affected my perception of and pleasure in some books. I often will avoid a highly-hyped book for just that reason or wait until the fuss has died down before reading it.

    It’s a relief sometimes to read just for fun and not worry about critiquing what I’m reading.

    • I need to start reading just for pleasure! It’s just hard for me to read something and not want to review it. Hype is a tricky thing…I try to avoid it when I can, but sometimes it gets the best of me =/

  18. I’ve definitely had this thought, too! It’s kind of a mixed blessing — reviewing. It’s a different experience from just reading for pleasure. BUT. It’s taught me things as a reader (which books I will like more) AND as a writer.

  19. Stephanie H.

    I don’t blog, but since I’ve started following book blogs and doing goodreads reviews and such, I find myself thinking more critically about the books I read. I don’t often take notes while I read unless something really sticks out to me that I don’t want to forget. What I do find, is that while being exposed to goodreads and book blogs has allowed me to discover books I never would have before, I’m now pickier about what books I read. I think if I were to go back and re-rate some of the books I read and rated before the summer of 2012 (when I discovered book blogs existed), many of the books I thought were great then, would receive much lower reviews now.

    • I feel the same way. Like Twilight, for example – I gave it 4 stars because I read it when I was a teenager. Would I still enjoy it now? Probably not as much, because I’d be more critical about it. My tastes have evolved SO much since I’ve been blogging!

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