Friday, March 4, 2011

What's the Point of Reviewing?

(Yeah, I know. But I thought this was relevant.)

A few comments on a few different blog posts during this whole mafia kerfuffle have called into question why an aspiring writer would even want to write reviews. Why, as someone who wants to be an author, would you spend your time reviewing books (time that could be spent writing your own stories), why would you be upset if someone tells you that you shouldn't be reviewing or sharing your opinion on the internet? Really, what's the big deal with giving it up and where's the merit in reviewing anyway?

Looking at books critically, thinking about the different aspects of a work and finding out why it did or didn't work for me has always helped with my own writing. When I conscientiously notice how vital and wonderfully-written the setting in Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds is, I can also look at how she did that and how I can do the same thing with my novel. It's been said that the only apprenticeship writers have is reading and I would argue that reviewing takes that one step further by looking more deeply at a book. It's like taking a book apart, looking at all the pieces, finding out what makes them fit together the way they do, and then trying to build your own book. For this analogy to work you really must imagine books as clocks.

So yes, reviewing does take time that could be spent writing. However, that time could also be spent eating, watching television, going to the grocery store, doing laundry, or a hundred other things that don't help writing the way reviewing does.

I reviewed books because I love them. It's easy to ask why on earth I'd want to both write and review others' writing, but my love of books doesn't stop at writing them. I love reading them and I love talking about them - blogging and reviewing allowed me to do this. Though my friends and family read, almost nobody reads the same genre as I do and none of them can endlessly discuss books the way I love to. I don't have reader friends and it was nice to be a part of a community (YA bloggers) that are similarly passionate about books, about the YA genre, and like discussing the same things that I do. 

Blogging about books, either through reviews or discussion posts, is something that I loved. Giving up something that you love or being told that you should give up something that you love or that it conflicts with something else that you love -- that's hard. 

*I'm cross-posting this on my blog, & Story.


  1. I was talking to my husband about all of this last night, and guessed that there are some people who just intrinsically understand and enjoy things like reviewing, and others who don't. I suspect that this kind of conflict--and difference--underscores a lot of these conversations.

  2. Phoebe
    I agree, and it's almost impossible to understand it if you don't already. If that makes sense.

  3. Reviews help me determine what I want to read next. Other than that, however, I see no point in a review unless the author wants one to stroke their ego (lots of authors out there need validation...please please please review my work and tell me I is smart!)

  4. But what if you just want a certain book or other art form out of your life? Then what?