Should Writers Review?

I started this blog as a book reviewer, but the focus has shifted more toward writing and my own fiction.  There are famous writers who review their peers’ novels, but they’re always positive.  You never see a negative review from a big writer.

But what about those of us who have book blogs where we talk about our writing and also review books?  Should we be posting reviews?  This is a sticky subject for some.

On one hand, if we post negative reviews, the author of that book may find it offensive that another author is publicly stating they didn’t like your book.  This can result in a bit of a war between them, and this kind of thing has been seen on Goodreads.  On the other hand, if the author only posts positive reviews, they may be seen as insincere, or that the reviews may be untrustworthy.  They’re just doing it to boost other authors and make themselves look good.

Well, what I do is I review books I like.  If I don’t like it, I don’t finish it.  If I like it enough to finish it, I review it.  I may have some 2 star reviews, but 2 stars doesn’t mean I don’t like it.  It means it was readable for me, it has aspects I liked, but some that didn’t work for me.  However, I still recommend those books for certain readers.  They do have their merits.  I am never negative, I only point out where something doesn’t work for me in a constructive way.  My “harshest” review was of MoonRush.  But notice that I say that many things don’t work for me and I give a reason why.  The style doesn’t match what I like, the science is not at all accurate, so the scientist in me can’t suspend disbelief, and there’s a lot of cliche.  I said that if you can suspend your disbelief, or you just like a fun story that’s got lots of action, you may enjoy it a lot.  I was positive about it.

I will continue to post reviews for books I like.  I will not post reviews for books I don’t like.  MoonRush was reasonably entertaining, which is why I posted the review.  It will likely work better for people who aren’t educated in the sciences.

But what do you think?  Should writers review books? Let me know in the comments below.

12 thoughts on “Should Writers Review?”

  1. I started reviewing a book a week about a month ago. I’m only reviewing books I liked. If I didn’t like it I’m not reviewing it. So, of course, they’ll all be positive because I liked them enough to proclaim to the world (or at least my blog readers).

  2. I’ve thought about this myself as well. I’m back on the blogging wagon with a new concentration: writing, romance, celebrating my peers and writer support. And I’ve thought as filler, since I do read the genre I write, to review books. But I feel the same way as you. As of right now I’ve decided not to do it…just beware the trolls. 🙂

  3. I review everything I read. My average Goodreads score is 3.65, so I don’t love everything but I’m not the harshest critic either. I’ve noticed I think I tend to write more about books I’ve liked than books I haven’t.

  4. I love reviewing as a way of supporting my fellow writers across the blogsphere. I think it’s one of the more useful aspects of my having a blog to begin with, and writers who don’t review – even just a sentence or two about why or why not that book reached their “read” shelf – are a strange bunch of creatures. That would be like a musician who didn’t listen to radio.

    But the idea of spreading positivity is a strong point of conversation here. I don’t necessarily “review” books I don’t like/finish – I just state why so that, like you, others who don’t share my taste can figure out for themselves whether they’d like it or not.

    Negativity from one writer to another is pretty pointless. I think any Goodreadser is familiar with the sad frequency and reality of that.

    1. I remember the whole controversy about revenge reviewing on Goodreads. Been a while since then, though. I would personally like to avoid that. I don’t like the book, I won’t give it a rating. I’ll just leave it. I’ll say I read it, though. But I tend to choose books I’m sure I’ll like, though.

  5. I tend to (occasionally) review books I like, but I rate everything I read — the ones I dislike just go without comment. Occasionally I rant about things I dislike in others’ writing, but I try to do that without naming names/titles, instead just discussing themes and pitfalls. As a writer, I think it’s important to examine where I can fall down in my own writing, and as that’s often what I dislike in others’ writing, I can always turn the focus on myself rather than rant about them.

    1. That’s a good attitude to take. In my case, I tend to have problems with bad science in science fiction. It makes it difficult for me to read, because I keep getting hung up on that. And I don’t mean unusual or wild theories, I mean basic science that the author got completely wrong.

  6. This is always a tough subject. I post mostly positive reviews though I don’t mind speaking my mind when it comes to a bestselling book. However, when it comes to new and indie authors I’ve even gone so far to include in my review policy that I would rather not post a review at all then post a review that might turn readers away from an author that is just starting out.

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