Can a Book Review Be Called a Review if it Isn’t Critical?

Posted By on Jun 26, 2012 | 10 comments

Writer and blogger Nina Badzin (check out her blog if you haven’t already…every post is like talking with a friend over cup of coffee–she’s the shtick, ba da bum) brought up a good point in her comment on one of my latest blog posts. She said that as new writers it is hard to be honest in reviews, in which I totally agree. Our personal knowledge of the author and/or the writing process will skew (screw?) us every time. But I will tell you, I have read books that I didn’t connect with by authors I have been acquainted with and I have had to let those float away without saying a word. I don’t want to hurt any feelings but just because I didn’t enjoy it doesn’t mean someone else won’t. To express my true feelings would not only hurt our friendship but also ruin another reader’s chance at making their own opinion.

When I do enjoy a book by someone I know, it is almost impossible to be unbiased. I wrote a post about this a while back but Nina’s comment made me stop and think about reviews vs. recommendations again. If a friend sends me a galley, I am going to do what I can to help. Whether it be an interview,  a book recommendation, a giveaway, or guest post, I try to help do my part as a friend. But reading books by people I know is bittersweet. I crack their books with my fingers crossed. God, how I wish I loved all of them. One thing you can hold as true, that if it appears on my blog, I endorse it.

A good book review requires critical analysis, so by definition, that disqualifies my reviews as really “reviews”. Karma’s a bitch and I want to be a published author someday. I’m not stupid. If I don’t like the book, then my silence can speak for itself. If I was getting paid to write reviews, then that would be completely different. I would be obligated to be critical and provide the bad with the good. But do I want to really go down that road?

So what do I do? Unless I’m writing reviews for money (which I don’t see happening any time soon), I guess I should label my posts as book recommendations. I had bounced back and forth in the past between using review vs. recommendation in some of my posts and used “review” more as of late. I guess it made me feel more high-falootin’ or something.

My point here is you can take them for what they are worth considering the source. I’m just a friend letting you know what book I think you should read next instead of 50 Shades of Grey. *smirk*

What are your thoughts?

  • Do you believe all reviews should be critical, providing the bad with the good?
  • Does “book review” vs. “book recommendation” mean different things to you? 
  • What do you like to read in a book review? Less summary, more opinion? Less opinion, more persuasion? 
  • What do you think when you read reviews that give the bad with the good? “What an asshat!” or “Glad I read this before I wasted my time (and money) on this one.”?
Side note:  I was mentioned on a post by my good friend Jen who is the funny (and popular!) writer behind “People I Want to Punch In The Throat” blog! And you know what she mentioned me for? My book reviews!! Ha! She doesn’t say my name directly but she links to my blog as a place to get great book reviews. Reviews…recommendations…what do I DO?!

{photo courtesy of deviantART/krzysztofwojtczak)

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