I’m creating my own book review blog post format, because the formulaic format bores me and I don’t want a plugin.

That’s the summed-up version of this post — the TL;DR for anyone who literally cannot be bothered to care about an otherwise arduous post talking not about MY life, but how I’ve come to realize the typical book review blog posts (ain’t that a mouthful??) seldom interest me at all — and how I created a new format for my own.

A question that’s happened upon my inbox numerous times is what my book review rubric is, as if I’m a teacher handing out my grading rubric even to people who care less about cheating the system and more about actually learning what I’m teaching. If I were a hopeless romantic, you can bet your firstborn I’d have a rubric topped with a pretty, delicate bow. But I’m not a hopeless romantic, there is no rubric, and you’d be lucky if you received a present from me whose bow was not jacked-up.

There is no easy route to finding what works for you and what you like. You simply have to dive into the deep in and figure out what keeps your head above water so you avoid drowning. That’s also how I learn best, which I trace back to my great Papa Al, who taught me how to ride a bike by removing my training wheels, leaving a glass of water and a baggy of goldfish on the back porch, and telling me not to come inside until I stopped falling off. I had many scraped knees, and not because of pavement — because the terrain on which I was learning was on the old Wills Point farm, when the gravel driveways were fresh and Mimi’s house faced that of her parents’.

While a plugin would make my life slightly easier in the department related to book review meta data, it’s not on my to-get list currently because I realized, in Ben Wheeler, the ease of composing a book review like a typical blog post in a Google Docs draft. I dove right in, worrying not about the number of pages or where I got the book. I didn’t start with a blurb — just the meat, the actual book review. I realized no book cover was needed. I remembered the photo I took of The Host during a garage sale that I found more inviting and blog-worthy than the mere book cover.

"The Host" by Stephenie Meyer atop a zebra blanket on my lap
So much more telling about me/my life than only using the book cover, no?

I can either force myself to comply with community constructs and settle for my reviews looking like most everyone else’s, or I can do my own thing. I dabbled with this when sharing my own favorite mug in a book review post, though it felt uncomfortably out of context despite being very much in context.

The reviews I enjoy reading are those wherein the reviewers bring themselves to the table. Rather than being formulaic and summarizing the book while also listing the meta data, they talk about how the book influenced their lives. The more I read, the less interested I am in giving books a numerical rating on my blog, where I’m much more personal and detailed about the goings-on in my life. It’s a construct I don’t feel comfortable abiding by anymore, thus will not be.

I’ve recently picked up on reading e-books, and will eventually get an e-reader, but thankfully there’s a tutorial about how to do this so I’ll not have to use two different approaches for physical vs. digital books — er, well, it will take some time in the beginning, because I take most photos with my phone and edit them there, also, thanks to nifty photo editing apps A Color Story, Foodie, and VSCO.

Plugins aren’t completely sworn off, however. If there’s a way I can choose to have UBB appear at the end of my reviews rather than before them, I’ll invest in it later for the meta data SEO ish. If not, no sweating on my end (though to be real, I’m quite sweaty because I haven’t shaved my legs for a week because #cantbebothered and the Northern Hemisphere’s winter is 165 days away, not that I’m counting down or anything).

Have you ever had to rethink a particular aspect of how you blog to make it simpler or more enjoying? What formats of reviews do you most enjoy reading, or do you just follow genres or some other specific quality instead?

#LetsDiscuss is hosted by FYFA & ISAM.

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Comments on this post

This is great to hear, and I’ve always enjoyed reading your reviews because you do so much more than summarizing. I get annoyed when I go to browse book reviews wanting to interact more with the community and only find spoiler filled summaries and a quick “I really enjoyed this!” or “I felt pretty meh” about it at the end. I feel like our education system failed sometimes that instead of engaging with books on a deeper level, all we’ve been taught is how to summarize. Summary =/= review.

When I look at how I engage with books now, I always think back to a foreign literature class I took and the adjunct professor that taught it. Even though most of what we read were short stories, most I wasn’t too into, I remember being offended when I got a paper back with an okay but not great grade. She knew I wasn’t too into the story, I didn’t engage with the book or it’s themes at all, and she left the note, “read more to write better.” It’s stuck with me ever since, and as time goes on I realize how that class among others really influenced the way that I approach literature.

I found book reviews more enjoyable to write when I can think on themes or what I personally took away from the novel, whether it was intended or not. Similarly, I changed my format too to move meta data to the bottom of the post, for folks that want that information or a Goodreads link. I find reviews that put more focus on the data boring, and the least important aspect of the post. More and more I found myself simply scrolling past all of the clutter to get to the meat of the post.

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