Whether we’re consciously aware of it, most of us have some sort of bookish goals and/or habit. These can range from wanting to read more, to read more diversely, or finally start trying to make a dent in an established TBR pile. Whatever the goals are, they’re there. I know I’ve mentioned some of mine this year, both in the few articles I’ve written in the Kissing Books newsletter.
The top one is to be mindful of my spending for books to better balance the intake and consumption. Another is to spread my dollars as evenly as I can between my local and favorite indie bookstores because we always need to support them if we can. However, there is another habit that I inadvertently started this year and that is not leaving reviews on Goodreads.
This wasn’t a goal I had intentionally set out to do. At the beginning of the year, the HarperCollins Union was still on strike. Per their request to help show support, I stopped leaving reviews altogether, even though I still voraciously consumed books. When an agreement was finally made and reviews were once again okay to be posted, I realized that I didn’t really miss leaving them. In fact, it was kind of a relief to not leave reviews there. And yes, it is specific to that platform. Now there are a few reasons why I feel this way.
One is due to the self-imposed pressure I put on myself when leaving reviews. I feel like they have to hit certain marks and will really try to make sure that they’re all met. Nor do I like rehashing the plot because it feels too much like a book report. When it begins to feel like work, it stops being fun and I never want reading to be that for me. Sometimes, writing reviews can feel like work. I am probably making a mountain out of a molehill, but it is what it is.
Continuing with that thought pattern is the fact that I sometimes am unsure of what to write about. As mentioned, I don’t like reiterating the plot. I also don’t like giving spoilers or revealing too much about a book that the synopsis does not. The only exception to this are content or trigger warnings. Sometimes there is really not a lot to be said past, “I enjoyed my time reading this.” When you cut that out there’s not much to give feedback on except feelings on the book.
Which leads to another reason skipping reviews is relieving: being able to avoid the people that disagree with you. Whether it is a super fan that will tell you you’re wrong for your opinion or an immature author throwing a fit because “you didn’t get it,” writing reviews can result in some very unpleasant situations. I don’t know about anyone else but I do not have the bandwidth or soft gloves to handle any of that nonsense.
I genuinely try to not be nasty or mean in my reviews. I am very aware that authors are human and as such have human feelings. So, I try very hard to be diplomatic. However, it is also hard to sometimes discuss why you didn’t like a book without being brutally honest. In those cases, I don’t think the reader should be vilified for their opinion, regardless of where the vitriol comes from. Sure, there is a knee-jerk reaction to defend a book you enjoyed from someone ripping it to shreds. But the best thing to do is to simply click away from it. Cause honestly for every reader that hates one book there may be three that adore it.
I know reviews are important to authors, whether favorable or not. So, this act of not leaving reviews is specific only to Goodreads. I will still be leaving reviews on NetGalley for the ARCs I’ve graciously been given access to. That is, when I finally get to them. Same goes for Amazon. I am also jotting down my thoughts in my reading spreadsheet. That is something that is just for me and I can be as brutally honest as I want to be. It’s a different level of journaling and can be very cathartic for books I didn’t like or DNFed.
I still track and give star ratings on Goodreads so there is still a way to keep with what I’m reading. But in terms of reviews? That is one thing that will be missing in my 2023 Reading Challenge Wrap–Up. I will see how I feel about it when next year rolls around and may change my mind, which I have done for other reading habits.
For now though, it helps to make reading a little more enjoyable.