Why I Write Book Reviews Part 2

I’m officially stepping off the 1-book-a-week grind. I had a long lapse last summer and fall while I moved from the right coast to the left coast of the US, then slipped back into it. What I didn’t realize until recently, though, was that I find myself reading a lot of books that really suck.

I've read this book several times, in several genres.
I’ve read this book many times, in several different genres.

As a general rule, I write a review of any book that I finish, and avoid writing reviews of books I don’t finish. With the small number of traditionally published authors I read (at the moment, only Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne, though I’ve read plenty in the past), I generally don’t bother for them, as by the time I read their books, even if I get them on release day, five thousand other people have already posted their reviews, and presumably have said anything I might think of. Besides, no one cares if I didn’t really like Cold Days all that much, but reveled in Skin Game.

The point of that: I write reviews specifically to help indie books find more audience. Unless it sucks. Since I’m also an author and dislike being told I suck as much as anyone else, I try to be fair and keep it strictly about the book and what specifically is wrong so other folks can know if they’ll also think it sucks. (I sometimes fail, because I’m also human. Shocking, I know.)

Back to the grind issue. There have been times when I’ve powered through a book that struck me as mediocre just so I could spend a post talking about it and feel justified with my complaints. This is a waste of my time. I would much rather spend that time writing or reading awesome books.

This past week, I started fifteen different books (all of which I got for free or very cheap) that I didn’t like enough to go past chapter 1 or 2. In some cases, the editing–rather, the lack thereof–was too distracting. In other cases, the subject matter held no appeal, and in the rest, I just didn’t get hooked enough to care. I find this happens to me every six or seven weeks, when I’ve burned through books I actively sought out and am left with ones I happened across for one reason or another.

Now, here I am on Wednesday night, only five chapters into something holding my attention, with a deadline looming for Moon Shades, and twelve or thirteen other things demanding my attention (including two kids), and I just don’t have it in me to finish this book tomorrow in order to crank out a review on Friday. This seems like it’s going to happen with more frequency as time goes on, especially the deadline part.

And thus, I am currently working on a replacement for every other Friday. Wish me luck.


  1. I can relate to the grind aspect of writing weekly book reviews–not every book is a pleasure to read and it becomes a job at that point, and it is one that takes up time that could be spent at your real job!

  2. I read much too slow to post a review weekly. I’m impressed that you’ve been able to keep up the pace. Do you think your opinion of some books might have been influenced by burn-out?

  3. I don’t think so, no. I still took the time to think about each book, and read them at my normal pace. What did happen is that I didn’t look forward to spending time with a book so much as I usually do because it became an obligation that took away from other obligations. Once I sat down with the book, I read it happily. Forcing myself to sit in the first place, on the other hand, affected time management efforts, and I sometimes have had to rearrange other parts of my schedule to cram in the reading. While this is hardly a big deal, I would rather wedge reading into times when I can well afford to goof off for an hour, instead of putting other things off to finish that book by tomorrow.

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