49 comments on “How I Learned to Start Skipping Reviews and Stop Feeling Guilty

  1. This is a really interesting post! I tend to like reviews of all kinds, but I’m partial to ones for books I’ve already read like you mentioned. I only usually read top ten Tuesday posts if I know the books though, even though I love writing them myself!

  2. In answer to your question, though I write flash fiction on my blog, I rarely read it on other blogs. The preview in the Reader really needs to grab me for me to click through and read the whole thing. I also only read reviews of books that seem interesting at first glance. Actually, I tend to skip over any post that doesn’t grasp my interest straight away. I decided early on to follow that approach, otherwise I’d get completely buried under blog posts and have no energy to write my own, never mind do anything else. Reading and writing blogs should be fun, not an obligation, and I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all.

    • My solution in the past for not getting overwhelmed has been to limit the number of blogs I follow, but I think I like this better… following more blogs but reading fewer posts.

      • Yes, limiting the number of blogs doesn’t work. Then you discover this awesome blog, but there’s none of your other blogs you’re willing to unfollow, so you can’t follow it? That just sounds silly :-)

  3. This is a difficult one. I obviously write a lot of reviews (like most book bloggers) and I’d like to think someone is reading them. But I also don’t read most reviews in my feed. I stick to books I’m thinking of buying and books I’ve already read or a review that just grabs my attention. Now that I’ve read your post, I’m feeling like a bit of a hypocrite too. I don’t think there is any easy answer to this, I don’t want to read every post in my feed, I did this in the early days and quickly burned out so this is one of my ways of filtering.

    • Right? It’s tough. Even when you know there’s not enough time in the day to read every post in your feed, it still stings to think of other people skipping over yours.

  4. Well, if you still read some reviews (those ones for books you have already read), it’s not a total contradiction to continue writing reviews. I would say it would be more of a contradiction to expect your readers to read all of your reviews (which you don’t!) if you are selective about which reviews you read yourself. I.E. You should be (and probably are!) understanding of the fact that review posts might get less clicks or comments — I know this frustrates a lot of bloggers, but as a blog reader, I totally get it. You can continue to write reviews and be OK with other people being selective about what reviews of yours they want to read. I don’t read all reviews either, but depending on the book I will sometimes look for a star rating or at the blogger’s final thoughts/summary-type sentence just to get a feel for if they liked the book or not. As you know, I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but I do like some, so I will freely admit I am selective about which of your reviews I read. I would never expect you (or any other reader!) to read all (or any) of my reviews if the books aren’t of interest or they have some other reason for wanting to avoid them. As much as we all like to support each other, it does no one any good to read/comment out of obligation.

    • Reviews are just so much harder to get interaction on. But, I have noticed that reviews are the most likely landing spots for searchers. So, even if my regular readers are skipping my reviews as much as I’m skipping theirs, I’m still (hopefully) getting through to other people out there.

  5. Bravo for losing the guilt and figuring out what works for you! I figured out something similar not too long ago, too. I tend to stick with reviews that I’ll be able to engage with, since I refuse to be that useless commenter. Everything else…tends to fall away. I try to keep a balance where I have more “other” content than reviews each week…it doesn’t always go that way, but I give it a shot.

    • I’ve always tried to keep that balance too. I have two planned posts a week, one of which is a review… so even on my quieter weeks, I’m at a 50/50 split. I do like it more if I also have one or two other posts, but like you say, that doesn’t always happen.

  6. Interesting viewpoint. I feel your pain on the TBR list getting out of control…mine is there now and I started to get stressed out about reading all this stuff. Then I have to remember that I’m doing this for FUN! I especially like your point about sticking to reviews of books you’ve already read…I do feel like I can add more to the discussion on those posts. I also tend to skip over the “plot summary” portion (which take up an ungodly ant of real estate on some posts!) of reviews for books I haven’t read – I’d rather go in more blind on the plot and just hear the blogger’s thoughts on the book. Congratulations on sticking to your guns and doing what works for you!

    • Yes, when I was reading reviews, I’d always skip the plot summary too! (Which was tougher on blogs that summarize themselves rather than using the publisher copy…) But I’m much more interested in reader reactions than what the book is about. Glad I’m not alone. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Why should you feel guilty? When you’re not in the market for more books to add to the TBR pile, it doesn’t even make sense to read all the review posts! For me, I’m SO CHOOSY about what I add to my TBR list (which doesn’t btw stop it from spinning out of control) that I know I need to read lots of reviews to get ideas for books I really want to read. And plus I like how all the different bloggers read so many different things. But if that’s not your jam, there’s totally no reason for you to feel guilty for skipping past those posts!

    • The TBR thing was an unintended side effect… and obviously, I still hear about books, but I’m adding new ones to my list way less often than when I was reading reviews. And then I got so excited about that, that the other day I went in and cut a bunch of books I’m no longer interested in. Now, instead of this dream list that I know I’ll never get through, my TBR looks much more manageable! I’m actually reading books faster than I’m adding them, for the first time in I don’t know how long!

  8. This is such an interesting post! It seems like the topic of “To Review or Not” is coming up again, so it’s great to hear it from a potential reader’s perspective. Honestly, for me, I don’t read every single review that pops up in my reader (or open all of them, for that matter). Like you, I am more interested in opening reviews of books I have read, or books that are on my radar. That being said, I won’t unfollow a blog just because we don’t read the same things because I equally enjoy discussion topics like these! So I’d say do what feels right to you! One thing about my blog that I’m not sure I like doing is monthly wrap ups; they’re such a norm in the book blogging world (and, in fact, my first two posts were strictly wrap ups) but I always feel like I’m just repeating myself/trying to promote all of my blog posts when I write them. I don’t know how helpful it is to my readers, but I think it’s my least favourite thing to write. (Yet not doing them seems wrong?!)

    • Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of wrap-ups that link back to the blogger’s own material, and I don’t do them myself. (My only “wrap up” posts are my monthly mini-reviews, recapping what I read that month.) But I guess I’m just so used to seeing them on blogs I already follow, so I’ve already read all those posts… if I were a person that just checked in on blogs from time to time, they’d be a lot more useful.

  9. I’m with you… it’s far too hard to read every post in the reader, so I only read reviews of books I think will interest me. Most of the hits I get on my reviews come from web searches, but I keep posting them anyway, otherwise there would be weeks on end when I’d have nothing to post at all!!

    • In the past, skipping posts (reviews or otherwise) was something I did very infrequently, because I only followed blogs where I genuinely cared about everything they had to say. I’ve found the more I start opening up, the more I’ve needed to skip.

      • I’ve found that there are a few blogs that I’ve followed because I loved a couple of their posts, but since then either the quality has declined, or else they’ll post endless pleas to get involved with their kickstarter campaigns…I keep following them in the hopes that they’ll post something interesting again, but in the meantime I don’t read any more than the previews in the reader…

  10. I mostly just read reviews for books I’ve already read, in order to compare reactions, or books I’m thinking of reading. I’ll also read reviews for other books if the blogger is someone whose book tastes are usually aligned with mine. It’s hit or miss. I don’t feel that it’s hypocritical at all to keep writing reviews even if you aren’t reading them. Blogging is for fun, after all. Do what makes you happy.

    • Yes, blogging is for fun… but for me, it’s primarily about connecting with other people. Not to say I only care about numbers, because that’s not it, but I care about the connections. So it does sort of feel like, just by putting a post out there, I’m saying that I expect people to read and respond to it… and if they’re not, then why am I posting it? But even though my blog is about connecting with others, and I wouldn’t continue it if I wasn’t making those connections, not every single post has to be. I think that’s what I’m struggling with most.

      Sorry, that was mostly just thinking out loud.

      • Good points. I guess I’m coming at it a bit differently. I started blogging as an outlet that felt freer and more “mine” than just posting reviews on Goodreads, and discovered the blogging community almost as a surprise. I do enjoy the connections, but I guess I don’t necessarily seek those out as much as I could (or should). :)

  11. I don’t see anything wrong with this. I only follow blogs that have the option of sending their posts to me email and I start there…cause I won’t remember to go to a feeder or blog on my own. I read the title and skim the beginning and if it’s not of interest to me, I delete the email. I don’t even have the time to read at some points in the year, let alone spend so much time on blogs. And my blog is done for me anyway – to build my interest and ability, so I don’t feel overly hypocritical about it. All those I interact with aren’t always on my blog either, so it’s a fair toss up.

    • I’ve never been a fan of email subscriptions, so it always surprises me when I come across people who prefer it. If I were to go that route, I’d set up a separate email address for it… and then I’d be checking that email vs checking my feed reader. But you’re right, there are people who read my blog who I don’t read theirs, and vice versa, so how is reading or not reading specific posts of those I do follow any different?

      • Yea, I do have a separate email for it…all of my blog related stuff goes to that email and I have a separate app for it on my iPad. So it makes it easy to check and ignore as needed.

  12. I skip almost every single review. They just don’t interest me. I got really bored of reading them. Every now and then I read one if something catches my eye.

    I keep searching for blogs that don’t post a lot of reviews and mostly post discussions — because that’s what I like to read. But I feel like I can’t find many book blogs that primarily do discussions instead of reviews.

    I do still post reviews, but not that often. They’re some of my least popular posts too (compared to my discussions and tips).

    • I’m definitely more interested in discussions too, which is part of why I really like that I’ve finally gotten it through my head that it’s okay to just skip the reviews. Because there are a lot of blogs I only visit when someone else links to a post they wrote… and I like their discussions, but I never wanted to follow them because I wasn’t interested in 75% of what they posted.

  13. Interesting post, well thought out and appreciated. I too am feeling that I need to change up how I run my blog, yet don’t want to alienate the loyal folks who visit me every few days and comment. I just don’t want to have a blog where I churn out review after review. I also prefer discussions, and try to get one going every once in a while. Thanks for getting a bunch of us talking about this– it helps more than you know.

    • Review after review has never been my style, and I’m not likely to follow blogs that do… but even if I like 50% or 75% or even 90% of a blog’s content, it’s kind of freeing to allow myself to ignore the rest of it. Not to mention, now I can feel free to follow those blogs that do mostly reviews, if they have occasional content I’m interested in.

  14. I started doing this earlier this year, when I changed up my book choosing/reading system. I no longer read reviews of books I haven’t already read (really, there’s no point now because I don’t have a TBR list anymore), with a few rare exceptions. Honestly-I love doing it this way and don’t really see myself going back.

    But, I also changed how I write my own reviews too. Instead of writing full, traditional ones, I now write brief highlights of each book I read (2-3 book’s worth, per post). I give some basic info on each book, share why I chose the book, and then a paragraph or so about what stood out to me about the book.

    I was so burned out on writing regular reviews and I love my new review method. The only exception is I do the Blogging for Books program, and I still write out full reviews for those books, per their rules. But I only do one book for this program, every other month or so. So that’s one traditional review once every 6-8 weeks that I’m writing/posting on my blog.

    I’ve seen other bloggers going this route as well-short mini reviews that just touch on a couple of things for each book they read and then they move on. One blogger I follow has started doing Tweet format reviews and I love it!

    I’ve read over and over again, bloggers posting that they’re noticing that their review posts get the least amount of traffic and comments. I think there’s going to be a movement away from traditional reviews on book blogs. Readers are bored with them and are looking for something different. And a lot of bloggers are getting burned out on writing them.

    • I do like writing reviews – hence why I’m not getting rid of them, at least not any time soon – but I only do a few a month. I’ve found too that even though they get the least engagement, they’re the most common hits from search terms. Granted, I’m blogging mostly for the connections I make, not for the occasional reader I have no relationship with, but it’s still nice to know my reviews are being read and that they might be helpful to those who come looking for them.

  15. OH I’m so with you. I would rather read interactive and fun posts than review posts. I don’t have as much time to read books, so reading reviews isn’t going to be interesting to me.

    • Any kind of post that encourages discussion or interaction is going to be more interesting to me than those that don’t… and reviews, unless you’ve read the book, just aren’t going to get that interaction. I do like hearing about different books I might enjoy, but at the same time, it’s no fun to be constantly adding books to my TBR faster than I can read them. All these books I’m missing out on hearing about, if they’re really that great they’ll probably come to my attention some other way. And if they never do, well, I guess I’ll never know what I’m missing!

  16. As many people have already said, I only read reviews for books I’ve read or are my radar. I want to make that review a discussion either mentioning why I did or didn’t like the book.

    I do like discussion posts and definitely see more interaction on my blog when I have something to share. But I don’t think I’ll stop posting reviews (1-2 week). I read an odd collection of books and its my way to promote those books that are little off the beaten path.

    • I always ignored reviews for books that were already on my radar. Once I decided to read it, I didn’t want more opinions getting in the way of forming my own. But yes, when it’s a book I’ve already read then suddenly it feels more like a discussion post because I have something to contribute.

  17. I don’t skip all the reviews – but I skip a lot of them. I feel the same about commenting on them – quality over quantity – (with the exception of the link up) if I have nothing more to say than, “Looks good!” I don’t feel like my comment has any value, so I won’t do it.

    I try to turn my reviews into discussions with a ‘call to action’ question – it works well with the apologetics that I read or books that I really hate or really love, but everything else it really doesn’t do much to spawn discussion.

    • I would always try to comment on reviews that got me to add a book to my TBR, just so the blogger would know… but then it would take me so long to get to the book (if I ever did) that it almost didn’t matter anymore. And yeah, I usually end my reviews with a question too, but I feel like they rarely get responses… whether that’s because my questions are lame or no one’s reading that far, who knows? But regardless, one question tacked on the end isn’t going to turn a review into a discussion post. It might help get a little more engagement, but it’s still not the same.

  18. I totally understand your conflict! I rarely read reviews anymore, unless they’re for a book I’ve already read or a book that’s already on my radar as one I’m interested in reading. And yet, I still post reviews. Does that make me a hypocrite? Possibly. But I’d rather spend my time reading posts I can engage with, and I like WRITING reviews.

  19. I’m fairly new to blogging, so I wonder if I might feel differently when I’ve been doing this longer. And the whole reason I started my blog was to complain about social media (which probably isn’t as meta as I think it is. Oh, well.). I post the occasional review, because I love talking about books, but my blog isn’t really about any one thing. I like to think that my blogging voice is what keeps a few people coming back, so I write about whatever topics are on my mind that aren’t too personal. I think it’s nice to shake it up a bit, topic-wise. I enjoyed your response to We Were Liars!

    • I do have another blog that’s more of an eclectic, whatever-I-feel-like-talking-about blog… but when my book-related posts started taking over, I decided it was time to create a space just for them. Thanks for stopping by!

  20. Interesting. I definitely still read reviews, but I’ve never felt compelled to read (or even scan) EVERY review – I could be here for weeks just reading reviews that way. I still think there are plenty of people who enjoy reading reviews, so you’re still safe with writing them. Besides, maybe people have already read the books you’re reviewing and want to comment on those books, just like you do. I wouldn’t stress about it too much, but read and write what works for you!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    • Ha, unfortunately I have a bad habit of stressing about things I shouldn’t stress about. But you’re right. If it’s not working for me then I’m not going to stick with it.

  21. I actually prefer to read the reviews to books I have already read as well. Either I don’t care about the other reviewed books or don’t want to end up spoiled so I guess it’s not too hypocritical to skip posts and not read them.

    • I used to be really choosy about which reviews I read, but lately I just can’t do any of them. Unless I’ve read the book, but then I don’t even think of it as a review, but a discussion.

  22. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect all your followers to read all your blog posts. Or for you to read all the posts of all the blogs you follow! You’d go stir crazy very quickly.

    It has taken me ages to work out a system that works for me.
    I only read reviews of books I’ve already read. Occasionally I’ll read one about the book I’m currently reading or about to read.

    If I join in a meme or blog hop, I do so with the expectation that I will visit a significant group of other blogs, to be socialable and polite. So I only join in when I’m in this mood.

    Over the years I have also found a small group of bloggers who write the kinds of reviews I like to read (& vice versa) and we regularly pop by each other’s blogs – sometimes just to say ‘hi’ and touch base.

    Sometimes a certain book topic will catch my eye, like this one, (often thanks to twitter or fb) and I will follow the trail to new blogs (I’m always amazed by how many book blogs there are out there that I have never come across before even though we obviously ‘know’ some of the same bloggers!)

    And that’s when I realise I’m still interested in this whole blogging life.
    After 5 yrs, there’s still so much to discover.

    Good luck with finding your mojo again – it’s usually in the last place you look :-)

    • Thanks. I’ve never really expected anyone to read all of my posts if they aren’t interested, but it’s just that there’s never been an entire category of post that I write but won’t read. That’s the part that feels hypocritical… even though it really doesn’t change anything. I’ve always had the option of skipping other bloggers’ posts and they’ve always had the option of skipping mine. This just feels different (though after a couple months, I seem to have gotten used to it).

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