Let’s Talk About: How I write my book reviews

Once upon a time, Gerry wrote about writing book reviews. I left a little summary of how I write my reviews, Bibi commented on it saying she’d like me to expand, and I thought… hey, why not. So here I am today, telling you all about how I write my book reviews.

This is not a post about what you should or shouldn’t do in your own book reviews. I always get a little annoyed when I see a post talking about what you should always or never do in a book review. However you personally want to get your thoughts and opinions out is fine, whether it’s one sentence, five thousand words, or anything in between. You can choose not to review books you didn’t like or you can rant forever about why you hated a book. Your blog is your own.

I’m going to talk about my three main types of reviews in this post:

  • my standard review
  • my “number of thoughts” review
  • my mini-review

the standard review

I’d guess that at least 90% of my reviews fall into this category. In this kind of review, I give my general thoughts without going into (too many) spoilers. I’ve tried a bunch of methods for writing this kind of review over the years, from taking meticulous notes while reading (too time-consuming) to typing my thoughts in a draft of the review every night before bed (I kept forgetting) to just winging it when I finished (the usual). What I’ve found the most helpful is talking about the book while I’m reading it.

You see, I have a pretty great boyfriend and he almost always asks me what I’m thinking of the books that I’m reading. He’ll ask me how many stars the book has so far, what’s keeping it from being a five-star read, or what I’m loving about it. This helps me start a review in my mind while I’m reading because I know I’ll more than likely be answering those questions. When I sit down to write my review, I already have a pretty basic idea of what I’m going to say. Then it’s just expanding on those thoughts (or, sometimes, cutting them down to a more reasonable length).

In my standard review, I try to include, at the very least, what I liked and disliked about the book. I don’t have any set formula for my reviews, but I do try to talk about anything that I think could be controversial or surprising (without giving away too many spoilers, that is). Aside from that, sometimes I include quotes and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I do bullet points and sometimes I don’t. Most of the time, I really just do whatever I feel like and hope for the best.

Examples of this type of review:

the “number of thoughts” review

This is, by far, the most time-consuming type of review to write. It usually takes at least a couple hours, so if you see one of these reviews, you know that I either really loved or really hated the book. (Really hated is more common.) That said, it’s actually my favorite type of review since I feel so much better after ranting about a book for so long. These reviews are all FULL OF SPOILERS.

So, how do I write this kind of review? If it’s an ebook, I make a lot of notes and highlights on my Kindle. If it’s a physical book, I fill it up with sticky notes so that I’ll remember quotes I want to use. I’ll usually write at least a word or two on the sticky note to remind myself of my thoughts. That’s time-consuming on its own, but then I have to transcribe all of those thoughts into my review! 😅

These “number of thoughts” reviews usually get a ton of interaction, which I love! If it wasn’t so time-consuming, I’d do it for every book I read.

Examples of this type of review:

the mini-reviews

When I don’t have a lot to say about a book, or when it doesn’t really fit into my usual reading tastes, I tend to do a mini-review. These are usually just a couple of sentences touching on what I liked or disliked about the book. I did these a lot more when I first moved to WordPress than I do now, but they’re nice because they’re quick and easy.

Examples of this type of review:

So, there you have it — three ways that I write my reviews. I hope that this was at least a little bit helpful. If you want me to expand on anything, please feel free to leave a comment! ❤

What style of review do you usually write? What’s your favorite to read? Let’s talk in the comments!

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41 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About: How I write my book reviews

  1. Eilis says:

    This is such an interesting post! Love getting to see other people’s reviewing and writing process. I’m all in for a “number of thoughts” review – can’t beat a reading good cathartic rant! – but I equally like quicker/more casual ones that give you a taste of what to expect 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bella says:

    This is really helpful! I never know how to make my reviews more intuitive and less droning😂 how many characters do you usually do your reviews? Like I’m not sure how much is too much or too little!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sara @ The Bibliophagist says:

      I’m glad it’s helpful! I don’t think you can really be too long or too short! Sometimes my reviews are like two paragraphs (I have a review going up on Friday that’s about five sentences long) and other times I just rant forever. It all depends on how much I have to say about a book. I try to not make it longer than feels natural, though, because then I just feel like I’m repeating myself. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sahi says:

    Very lovely as well as informative post Sara 😊😊😊 As someone who just follows one format, it’s nice to know the other ways reviews can be written…
    And I’m particularly happy you have a partner with such an interest in your reading.. you’re so lucky 😜😜

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lady B says:

    Thanks for sharing how you write your reviews. I agree with your view about reviews being individual to each blogger. It’s nice to read the different ways of writing reviews which individual bloggers use.
    We have two types of reviews on our blog, a written one where we mainly share what worked and didn’t work in the book for us and an audio one.
    The written one is usually our combined thoughts but our audio reviews are individual thoughts about books or short stories we read. We decided to have audio reviews which are less formal (and supposed to be more fun) than the written reviews.
    For both written and audio reviews, we try not to include spoilers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. aquapages // eline says:

    The worst when I’m going to review a book is the thing where it’s been a *great* book 70% of the way, but in the ending it just falls apart and leaves me with this empty feeling, or even mostly dislike. It makes the review feel so unfair no matter if I rant or try to make it nuanced, because I both love & hate it

    Sounds like a great boyfriend, haha!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Joe Harris says:

    This is so interesting to read. I’ve not been reviewing books for very long so I’ve always been playing with how I want to layout reviews. Your ”number of thoughts’ reviews sound like a great idea, there are always too many thoughts banging around my head so I might have to just let all of them out for some books. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Arin says:

    Amazing post, Sara! I am currently attempting my first “number of thoughts” review and it is shocking me how much time it is taking haha. I have recently also been getting into mini reviews because sometimes I just don’t have enough to say to write a full review. It was super fun to see someone else’s thoughts/reviewing process!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jeimy @ ANovelidea says:

    Great post, Sara. I struggle a lot with writing book reviews. I want to do them but when I sit down to write them, I start to panic! I feel like I’m not writing them correctly and I’m always afraid I’m going to spoil something haha. Seeing how other book bloggers write their reviews help me get an idea of what I can incorporate on my own reviews. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. pedometergeek says:

    Really enjoyed this post. Since I write reviews on both Goodreads and here under pedometergeek, I love understanding how everyone else does it. I guess my reviews are kind of a mashup of your styles. Some are rants; some are mini-reviews; and most are standard.
    I have to say my Amazon reviews (through my Kindle) are the most difficult, but I finish reading and the next thing is the screen asking for a rating and/or a review. Sometimes I would just like to think about it before I review, which means mentally preparing the review before the end comes. Alas…
    Again, really liked this post; it has given me much to think about in future reviews. ~nan

    Liked by 1 person

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