Why do we post reviews?

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Why do we post reviews?

tammikuu 21, 2020, 3:16pm

I've been writing reviews on almost every book I've read for more than 10 years, but have seldom posted a review except in a thread where I thought someone might want to discuss the book, which doesn't happen very often. Other than my curiosity about others' views, my motivation to post a review is primarily either as a thank you to the author for a good book, or much less often to encourage someone not to waste their money buying it.
Nevertheless, I enjoy writing and reviewing my reviews for many reasons, especially checking (and hopefully improving) my analysis and later my recall.
I'd be very grateful for your comments on why you post, how often, where?

tammikuu 22, 2020, 8:02am

Helping my recall, first and most, because my memory is awful. I sometimes go back to re-read one of my reviews when something's made me think of a book I read before, to refresh what I thought of it or what it made me think of. Sometimes I get surprised. And I do occasionally tweak reviews that I wrote months ago, if now it seems too hyperbolic or something else that makes it obnoxious.

I most want to remember what feeling it stirred, what memories it brought to mind, what my biggest takeaway was. Whether it was tricky to understand or straightforward, easy/fast to read or hard/slow. Characters or anything else that especially stood out is important to note, those things can be slippery to recall otherwise. I've an idea I might (gasp!) try re-reading at some point instead of always something new, and my reviews could help me decide what's worth the time.

I post reviews on LT almost exclusively, right after I'm done reading. I sometimes copy them to Goodreads, but they don't a system for stepping back through my reviews as easily, or at least I haven't figured it out.

tammikuu 22, 2020, 9:32am

I’ve posted reviews for just about everything I’ve read since joining LT, around 1500 books by now. Over the last few years I’ve been keeping up a reading journal thread in the Club Read group as well as posting the review text on the book page. I also post reviews in the themed threads of Reading Globally where relevant.

Reasons: largely selfish, to force myself to think a little bit systematically about what I’ve just read, and, as >2 Cecrow: says, for future reference. A lot of what I read is moderately obscure (in LT terms), so there often aren’t many other reviews: in those cases I know the review stands a chance of being helpful to someone else who wants to know what the book is about, whom it’s for, and so on. About half my reviews pick up “thumbs” eventually, so, even allowing for mutual back-scratching, that’s probably not a complete delusion. Obviously that’s different if you’re posting the 40 000th review of Harry Potter: there you can have a bit of fun and say what you like in the certain knowledge that no-one is ever going to read it except by a fluke.

The CR thread gives me a chance to put reviews in the context of why I’m reading that book at this particular moment, say something about the author if they aren’t well-known, and so on. And often leads to discussion, suggestions, and occasional polite differences of opinion. I enjoy looking at what other CR members have to say about what they are reading as well.

tammikuu 22, 2020, 9:48am

Much the same as >2 Cecrow: and >3 thorold:, primarily for my own benefit in going back (esp regarding series where I may not want to re-read them all when a new episode comes out) or to refresh my mind when offering suggestions or in other book discussions.

Likewise I only post them here, and very rarely share to my Fb friends if it's particularly noteworthy.

tammikuu 22, 2020, 10:06am

>3 thorold:, I always appreciate a well-considered review for a work that otherwise hasn't gotten much (if any attention), and try to pay it forward. Good additional point about forcing yourself to think critically; it's a great way to organize thoughts and form an overall opinion.

I also tend to write secondary reviews in a different tone in my challenge threads.

tammikuu 22, 2020, 10:37am

Writing reviews certainly helps me to clarify in my mind what I think of a book and why, and helps me to remember it long after I've finished it. For that reason, I tend only to write reviews about books that make an impression on me or that poke at me in some way.

Posting reviews, on the other hand, is quite a different impulse. Partly, it satisfies the cataloging data geek in me to have my reviews listed with the records of the books they discuss. But mostly, I think there is a compulsion in me that comes from being an avid reader to share the experience. It's probably related to the same compulsion that made the author go through all the struggle it must have been to write the book-- there is something they just had to say. And I, the reader, feel that, I don't know, imperative? plea? Yes, I think, this author has something to say. I don't want that to stop with me, so it feels like the natural thing to do to tell people about the book. The drive to share what we learn or know is pretty strong, and ultimately behind that impulse every reader has felt to shove a book into the hand of a friend and say "you've got to read this."

It's one of the better impulses in human nature I think, so I indulge it in myself.

tammikuu 22, 2020, 12:01pm


I think that in order to get thumbs, a review needs to be both non-useless (so, more than "I liked it") and visible - the latter is probably more difficult than the former, so unless you post your reviews to groups as you're doing, they're very unlikely to attract thumbs. This isn't so much "mutual backscratching" as just "getting eyeballs" - I'm not suggesting that anyone is giving thumbs up just because they think you're a nice person, but that the visibility of posting reviews to a group is basically essential to getting thumbs. (This is why I've largely stopped writing reviews on LT - it's very obvious that almost nobody looks at them on the work page.)

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 22, 2020, 12:54pm

Actually, I think the "I liked it" reviews do often get thumbs. Very often when I'm looking at reviews I see that type of review with both a blue flag and a thumb. Many people don't realize that a thumb does not counter a flag.

Such a review, once the flag has been properly countered is left with a strange thumb.

I suspect that one or two people keep track of my reviews because they often get thumbs. It's always fun to see which ones get chosen.

tammikuu 22, 2020, 5:41pm

>7 lorax: I don’t think that’s entirely true any more. My rather unscientific monitoring suggests that the first thumb is about equally likely to appear in the first few weeks after posting the review or years later. The first is obviously a visibility effect from posting in groups, but I think the second effect must be related to the growth of LT. You post the first or second review of an old book no-one else knows about, and then five years later LT is several times bigger and people are visiting that book page quite regularly. If the review is not totally useless, sooner or later someone with a trigger-happy thumb will come along.

If you really wanted to harvest thumbs for some unknown reason, my experience suggests that the best strategy of all is to post a review of a literary novel that has not yet been translated into English and then wait for the translation to appear as an Early Reviewers book a year or two later. Sadly, that isn’t easy to predict...

Of the books I’ve reviewed, novels with a feminist slant, classic novels, and serious history books seem to tap into the most thumb-happy subcultures. Very occasionally a joke-review gets a lot of thumbs, but more often than not it’s ignored.

If I can draw any conclusion from thumbs (other than “it pays to be first” and “cultivate your friends”), it’s that people are more likely to appreciate a review that says something striking and memorable in the first sentence or two. No-one’s going to read 500 words to see if it gets more interesting later. Still less 1000.

tammikuu 22, 2020, 9:11pm

I used to be faithful and wrote a review for each book I read. I need to get back into the habit. It also helps me remember the book. Most of us read so many books, sometimes we forget what we read.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 22, 2020, 10:29pm

Why do I share reviews of books?

1. I like to read others' reviews-- from work pages, >1 eschator83: and >7 lorax:, and not as much from Talk threads.

2. My reviews might help other readers.

3. I need the practice sharing my thoughts.

4. My memory for what I've read is healthy enough to be imperfect. Reviews are useful as notes. Posting publicly means I don't always have to be logged in to see what I wrote.

5. It feels good, perhaps. There is a feeling of satisfaction in seeing my review count increase.

6. Authors and publishers give me free books in exchange for reviews. (Thank you, LibraryThing, for Early Reviewers and Giveaways!)

Where? Most of my posted reviews are on LT to the works. On occasion, I post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, blogs, and in forums, here and on other sites.

How often? I attempt to review every book. My posts don't always save. What remains of my patience for rewriting lost reviews has shortened so that I'd rather leave a book with zero reviews on the site than type out another that could also disappear. Though, I do edit after posting.

tammikuu 23, 2020, 2:50pm

Gonna be that person who doesn't answer the question - I don't post reviews here very often.

Whenever I look back my writing seems cringy and I dislike something being up there permanently for all to see.

Writing a lengthy review is a lot of work. I tried short, one word reviews but they were flagged by other users so I deleted them and stopped.

A lot of what I have to say is personal or possibly offensive to some users. You can't post a book review raging about an author's bigotry and expect it to be accepted happily.

Don't feel that others care much what I have to say.

Do discuss books on individual threads and write the short Litsy blurbs. Tends to be a one post thing though - if I've discussed a book elsewhere it doesn't get a Litsy blurb or just gets a short one.

tammikuu 24, 2020, 7:31am

>12 Settings:, you never know when a simple passing thought you've had will turn on a light bulb for someone else.

I get around the length problem by noting any worthwhile thoughts as I go, then tidying them up at the end.

tammikuu 24, 2020, 8:56am

If your reviews get flagged, you can ask others to counterflag. https://www.librarything.com/topic/182266# works well. Looking through that topic will also make you realize that you are not alone.

tammikuu 24, 2020, 9:45am

I do like writing reviews and also reading many of the reviews written by other LTers. When I write I do keep in mind that others might be reading them, but basically I write them for myself. I'm happy that I've tried to write at least something about each book or series of books that I've read. On a few occasions, especially recently, I've looked up books that I don't remember reading and re-read the reviews I wrote. It helps me remember if I liked a particular book or not.

tammikuu 24, 2020, 11:45am

I write reviews on my thread in Club Read, but I don't post them anywhere else, a) because I write them in English, which is not my first language, so I'd rather not give them a wide audience; and b) because just like >12 Settings:, I'm never quite happy with them. I always feel I missed something out, or I misrepresented one point or another...

tammikuu 24, 2020, 12:43pm

>16 Dilara86: I just took a glance at your reviews and I must say that I would never have guessed that you are not a native speaker. Your English is excellent and puts to shame many whose only language is English.

tammikuu 25, 2020, 7:47pm

Many thanks to all for fascinating comments (and your efforts in sharing your reviews). Please consider that commenting in our book discussions is also a kind of sharing, and can be even more helpful to others.

tammikuu 25, 2020, 8:37pm

Discussions and reviews serve overlapping purposes but can appeal to people differently. For example, I like to read and write review but tend to avoid participating in active group discussions of a book.

tammikuu 26, 2020, 2:19am

When I am at the library trying to decide what to borrow, I'm not likely to chase discussions. I do look at reviews.

tammikuu 26, 2020, 10:57am

Discussions and forum posts are safer if you're trying to point out something controversial. It's less likely someone with a strong emotional connection to a book you are criticizing is going to read a thread post if the thread is on a different topic.

Very likely if you are posting a review.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 2020, 11:47am

>21 Settings: I wonder what kind of experiences you've had with that. I have the opposite view.

Here on LT, comments can't be made directly to reviews. There's no dislike button. The flags are for abuse of the site's terms. Any disagreement with a review is usually out of sight, off-screen or possibly linked in Mentions.

Meanwhile, someone can argue about a forums post. Blocking prevents messages to the reviewer's profile but doesn't keep aggressive critics out of Talk threads.

tammikuu 26, 2020, 4:40pm

Haven't had rude comments on a forum post or discussion, but you are correct, my experience is from off-LT and I am extrapolating.

tammikuu 27, 2020, 8:01am

I've a memory like a … whatever that thing is called with all the holes in it, I forget. So I capture a review while my thoughts and feelings are hot off the last page. By the time it's ever mentioned in discussion, I've forgotten three quarters of it.

tammikuu 27, 2020, 8:05am


Muokkaaja: tammikuu 27, 2020, 8:40am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

tammikuu 27, 2020, 8:37am

tammikuu 27, 2020, 9:04am

>24 Cecrow: punch card?

tammikuu 27, 2020, 9:46am

>24 Cecrow: sponge!

It is covered in holes. (-:

tammikuu 27, 2020, 10:00am

>29 aspirit:, thanks, I'll start telling people I have a memory like a sponge. Can't remember a darn thing.

tammikuu 27, 2020, 10:11am

>30 Cecrow: Perhaps, 'I know it's in there, but it doesn't want to come back out.'

helmikuu 8, 2020, 5:25pm

Cecrow et al: are you looking for sieve? Isn't it curious that a sponge holds liquid so well despite all those holes.

maaliskuu 8, 2020, 11:15pm

I generally try to write something about each book as I add it to "My Books". Sometimes it's just a TV-Guide blurb (Aging spinster unexpectedly finds romance when she wins a Mediterranean cruise) to help me remember, down the road, if I need to go back. (Who wrote that book about the cruise?)

If it's an "Early Review" copy, then, yes, it gets the full treatment. I don't think "It was an okay book" or "I really liked this" constitutes a review and can't imagine it's particularly useful to authors or publishers.

And isn't that the intent of the Early Review system? To get some word of mouth out to the community of readers? So I often wonder what happens to our Early Reviews after we post them. Sometimes it feels like I've just been shouting down a well. Other than counting thumbs, is there any way to track whether or if the early reader reviews ever get beyond LT?

maaliskuu 8, 2020, 11:44pm

>33 LyndaInOregon:

Other than counting thumbs, is there any way to track whether or if the early reader reviews ever get beyond LT?

No easy way. You can always do a search on a phrase in the review to see if it's posted elsewhere.

(BTW - Thumbs have nothing to do with reviews being posted beyond LT.)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 8, 2020, 11:48pm

>33 LyndaInOregon: While I haven't tried it, we should be able to search online for a distinctive phrase of a review. I would make sure to put the phrase between quotation marks. Copies of the review would likely return near the top of the results.

ETA: Double-posted with >34 lilithcat:. I take longer to type than I think I do.

maaliskuu 9, 2020, 2:29am

>33 LyndaInOregon: You can always post your reviews other places if you want.

maaliskuu 9, 2020, 12:39pm

>33 LyndaInOregon:
Some LibraryThing reviews, “early” or otherwise, end up on the Google Books web site. For example, I see your early review of Call Me Cass there. More precisely, the site has the beginning of your review plus a link (“More”) to the entire review at LibraryThing. No idea how to track when a review appears at that site, however.

So, you're not shouting down a well. A next-door neighbor, at least, is listening.

maaliskuu 9, 2020, 1:06pm

>37 dypaloh:

Wells can be surprising. Is it a treacle well? It may pay to shout at least "Need help? Are you VERY ill?"

maaliskuu 9, 2020, 7:31pm

>38 LolaWalser:
Ahh, didn’t know about treacle wells. Well, a surprising question. I’d best go ask Alice. I think she’ll know.

maaliskuu 9, 2020, 7:43pm

Thanks to all for the responses. Interesting viewpoints and suggestions.

helmikuu 17, 12:01pm

Part of the reason I write reviews is that I want to share books I loved or warn others about books that, in my opinion, have problems. As long as I am upfront about what I didn't like, the reader of the review can decide if that is an issue that precludes reading the book.

helmikuu 19, 3:00pm

>25 MarthaJeanne: “I always enjoy a joke when I know about it.” One of my favourite lines from Beyond the Fringe.

helmikuu 25, 6:08am

>20 MarthaJeanne:
Just thought I would stop by to say "me too". Reviews in CK are my most-used decision maker for acquiring or reading a book. To be honest, it hadn't ocurred to me that anyone would only review in Talk, and I would not have thought to search talk for such information.

I must make more of an effort to write reviews.
I must make more effort to write reviews.
I must write reviews.
Go away, I'm reading.