June 23, 2012

Pajama Musings - Would you like an opinion with that?

Some like them long, some like them short.
Some like them serious, some like them funny.
Some like them with spoilers. Others don't.

No matter if we write them or read them, tastes certainly differ when it comes to book reviews. Either way, at the core of it all is ... the book.

Granted, I'm all for short and snappy reviews. I like them this way both when I read and write them. If I see a review that's a mile long I don't even read the first line, but then, that's just me. Equally I don't take the content apart as if my life depended on it. I've seen that done especially with non fiction books and it makes me feel like sitting in a lecture at Uni. I hate to say this, but to me a review is something that should help me decide whether I want to pick up a certain book or not. I don't need an in-depth analysis of every single footnote.

Apart from different tastes when it comes to length and depth, there are those reviews that, in my humble opinion, aren't reviews at all. I'm thinking along the lines of, "I loved this book! It was a great start to a great series, one that I really enjoyed! It was really good, and I loved it, it was awesome! Loved the characters, and the plot! " or how about, "Can't say enough good things about this one. Fast paced. Lots of action and romance. Loved it!"

Errr ... and this is telling me what exactly?

Yep, those are full reviews I copied from people who shall remain unmentioned (despite the whole plagiarism craze, because let's face it, nothing unique about those vapid one and a half liners). Come to think of it, the second example gives you at least a very rough idea of what you'll encounter in the book. Anyway.

While some reviewers manage to put a whole lot of meaning into a two-lines-review, this is indeed a rare talent. Most people lack this kind of skill as is shockingly obvious when you risk another look at the above mentioned examples. To be fair though, even long reviews can sometimes be blah and not tell you much about the book, often being nothing more than a summary of the content instead of an opinion.

Things to ponder: Generally it's not helpful if you only share whether you liked a book or not. The emphasis should be on why you liked it or not! Throw in some thoughts about the plot idea, the writing style, and the characters, and we're finally getting somewhere. Don't take this personally, but if you can't put your appreciation (or aversion) for a book into a slightly more knowledgable form, you shouldn't write a review at all. Just sayin'.

Last but so not least I want to share two laugh out loud funny websites with you ...

And you thought those shorty-short reviews I quoted above would be bad, hahaha!!

Now, how about yourself? Do you prefer to read and/or write long or short reviews? What separates a great review from an eye-rolling experience for you? Please share.


  1. i don't have time to write reviews, when I post about a special book I have read, I can only offer small glimpses into it, mainly because my blog is like my scrap book, and I like playing with words from time to time. I know a good review takes a lot of time, which I don't seem to have, especially in the past two years, with my paper due this August... And since I lack time, I prefer a rather concise review.

  2. As a reader of reviews, I like both long and short ones. It depends on when I'm reading it. I check out the short & sweet/spoiler free ones prior to reading the book. The long ones I read to compare notes/discuss after I've read that book or when I need to refresh my memory (say #4 was just released and I read #3 like...a year ago?).

    I'm not much of a reviewer. I rarely write detailed ones because it's hard for me to put my all feelings for a book into words (I can literally sit there for hours just typing up one review) so I usually end up with a few sentences (not unlike some of the examples above >_>). Mainly my "reviews" are just sort of notes for myself, highlighting particular bits I like/dislike about a book.

  3. Depends on how much I have to say. :)

    Some of those amazon reviews are so funny! I remember laughing tears when I read reviews for "How to avoid big ships". I think this is the title anyway, the funniest reviews ever.

  4. I try to write longer reviews (5-6 paragraphs) but if it's been a while since I read it, or there's just not that much to say, I struggle to get past 3. So I have *some* sympathy for short reviews. On the other hand, if it's just all subjective response with no analysis at all, that's fine if that's what you're aiming for, but it's not very helpful for others.