Hello and welcome back to my blog!
Today’s post was supposed to be my weekly review… but lately I’ve been struggling way more than usual with writing reviews. Instead of forcing myself to write up some half-assed review of a book I’ve read lately, or posting another review from my backlist, I thought I’d talk a little bit about why writing reviews is such a struggle for me.
We can all probably agree that reviews are a staple of a solid book blog.
Back in 2017, when I started my first bookish blog, I started out by posting only reviews. I’d made it my goal to read more diverse authors, so I also made it my mission to share with others what made these books so amazing—and what, in my opinion, didn’t work. Back then, I didn’t really have a set format for how I wrote reviews; I just wrote about whatever came up in my reading.
As I progressed as a book blogger, and particularly this year as I started this new blog out of the ashes of the old, I revamped the way I write reviews. I started keeping notes about story, craft, characters, and other elements of the books I read.
For me, the act of writing a review serves two purposes: (1) it allows me to spread love and appreciation of a book or warn other readers of potentially harmful content; (2) it helps Future Christine remember what I loved about a certain book.
Without at least a bullet-point review of what I’ve read, there’s no way I’ll remember why I gave something three stars instead of four. The ratings become meaningless without the explanation of why they were given.
For the past couple months, though, I’ve been really struggling to show up and write up reviews.
Back in April, I procrastinated until I had no choice, then sat down and slapped up reviews for the blog and Goodreads out of sheer desperation. Because I’d procrastinated so long, I then got behind on all the other posts I wanted to get up in the coming weeks. And honestly, I still haven’t fully recovered!
If you’ve noticed, my reviews in May have been pretty scant. Other than Queenie, about which I felt/feel so damn passionate, I just haven’t had as much to say about what I’ve read. I don’t want to show up and repeat what’s already been said by so many bloggers before me—especially if the rep in a certain book isn’t even close to my own experiences. Who am I to say whether or not racial rep is accurate? Who am I to say whether or not autistic rep is realistic or harmful?
Over the past week, I’ve been doing some deep thinking about who I want to be as a writer, the kinds of stories I want to write.
I realized that I’m not really reading the kinds of books I hope to write one day. Being in the bookish community, it’s easy to be surrounded by people who are mostly reading the same books. For whatever reason, it seems like I mostly follow people who ready almost exclusively YA books.
Even though it took me a long time in my adult years to accept my love of YA, I’m reaching the point now where reading YA isn’t enough. I appreciate how many diverse stories there are available in the YA category, but I want more adult books that have diverse representation as well.
I want more literary fiction that’s not just about cisallohet white folks. I want books that are written in a challenging way, that make me question everything as I’m reading. I want books where history is palpable and real and important. I want books that are impossible to review.
And yet: I can’t just stop reading YA—I’ve already got too many sitting on my owned-TBR shelf! And I can’t just stop writing reviews either.
If anything, I think I need to be conscious about what I read in a new way. I need to balance the ease with the challenge, the fluffy with the literary. I need to change the way I write reviews, too. If writing out long reviews is too intimidating, maybe it’s okay if I just do bullet reviews on Goodreads for a while. Maybe it’s okay if I only post reviews when I feel truly compelled to write down my thoughts on a book in long form.
I might not win as many ARCs this way. It might take me that much longer to grow this blog if I’m not blogging the way other people blog.
Still, I’d rather do things my way, remain true to who I am and what I want to write about, than conform to anyone else’s expectations—even if those expectations are somewhat self-imposed.