Do you have to review books to be a book blogger?

Here I am, back again to talk about real book blogging questions. (Or maybe bother you with it all, I’m not even sure at this point, but it turns out I’m still not out of topics when it comes to book blogging).

Today, I’m here to talk about book reviews.

Many bloggers, I included, have already noticed and talked about this before: book reviews aren’t that popular in the blogosphere. I know that personally, if I take a look at those damn numbers, reviews aren’t the posts that make everyone come to my blog, that gives me the most interaction, comments, visits and so on. Let’s say this loud and clear: reviews are unpopular in the book blogging community and on the blogosphere overall. I’m saying “unpopular”, really, but the word might be a little big, so let’ rephrase this: reviews aren’t as appreciated as, well… everything else.

When I first started blogging a couple years ago (I feel so old everytime I write this, someone helps me), I thought that book blogging = book reviews. I thought that the two were, somehow, forever linked and destined to be together, hand in hand and inseparable just like Lyra and her Pantalaimon (His Dark Materials, if you haven’t read the book, DO IT OKAY) or just like, well, us and our books.

I was wrong.

As time passed, as I met new book bloggers, as I slowly created a tiny little nest for me here, I realized that book reviews aren’t necessarily a given in the book blogging community. They’re not always there, sometimes they’re not even there at all.

I know tons of book bloggers writing a review a month, or very rarely, or not even at all. Their blog aren’t empty, they’re just filled with other bookish things, such as discussion posts, recommendations posts, wrap-ups where they mention everything they’ve read all at once, book hauls, bookish memes (Top Ten Tuesdays, Waiting on Wednesday etc.) and so on.

Sometimes book bloggers don’t review books. At all.*

*when I’m talking about reviewing books, I’m mentioning blog posts solely focusing on one book and talking about it. Long paragraphs, lists, pros and cons, likes and dislikes, everything, well, a book review.

To be completely honest with you, this unsettled me a little bit, at first. See, I had this image of book bloggers writing book reviews and somehow, it felt weird that so many bloggers did book reviews so rarely, or never. Yet, slowly, I got used to it. In the middle of the “usual” book reviews, I stumbled upon so many new, interesting posts and new, amazing ways to highlight great books. Recommendations posts, lists, blog posts where books are mentioned, but not necessarily reviewed, are wildly popular in the bookish community and I get why.

Is it that writing reviews is boring, or getting boring, I wonder?

Slowly, this image of book bloggers = book reviews kind of shattered, just leaving the book bloggers = books equation, one that’s much fairer than the first one. Some people hate writing reviews, some others just find other ways to chat about books. Some bloggers would rather chat about all of their favorites at once in their latest wrap up, while others prefer “old school” book reviews, written paragraphs or bullet lists etc, focusing on one book, their love or hate for it all.

There’s also twitter now and instagram and all of the other social media, where book bloggers aren’t necessarily “bloggers” anymore, but social media influencers as well. Reviews can take multiple forms there, they can be summed up in a tweet in a couple of sentences or key words, they can be written down in a couple sentences in the instagram caption. Book reviews on book blogs still exist, but they change, too, or disappear in the profit of talking about our reads quickly on social media, where the target is easily reached and sometimes bigger than ever.

I feel like that’s a common misconception about book bloggers – one that I had at first, too, when I started up. I thought I had to review books to be a book blogger, but thing is, you don’t. If you want to blog about books, you have to enjoy books, obviously – or what the heck would you talk about otherwise? If you want to blog about books, you have to want to talk about books – that kind of seems obvious, too. But you don’t necessarily have to write book reviews.

There are so many different ways to talk about books after all.

I personally love to write book reviews, even if they’re not that popular, probably not that interesting either. I’m not doing it because I feel like I “have” to, but because that’s how I want my blog to be, filled with discussions like this one, other fun book recommendations and posts when I can think of them, and tons of long, short, bullet-point reviews, too. I just love it.

Yet, I don’t think you have to review books to be a book blogger anymore. You just have to talk about books and do whatever the heck makes you happy, because it’s your blog after all.

Do you review books on your blog? Do you do it often, or not? Do you like writing book reviews? Do you read book reviews on book blogs?

If you don’t review books – or don’t do it often on your blog, why, or why not? Do you think you have to review books when you’re a book blogger? I’d love to know your thoughts in comments!

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

160 thoughts on “Do you have to review books to be a book blogger?

  1. I was actually thinking about writing a book review for my blog. I am in a book club with some friends and we just finished the book. I think book reviews are useful to help others know if its a book they’re interested in reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You should do it! Book reviews are so helpful, so many times they helped me and made me discover new books I ended up loving πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that like you said, everyone can do whatever they want on their own blog and still be a part of whatever community. I get too why people don’t want to review, because it’s hard sometimes and the posts don’t get a ton of love usually. For me though, reviews are often easier to come up with than discussion post topics because my brain is tired. Plus, review books ha. But I definitely wouldn’t think twice at this point if someone didn’t review! Maybe 3 or 4 years ago it would seem a little different, but now? Book bloggers blog about SO much stuff (hell, half my blog, quite literally, is nonsense about The 100!) that I’d probably not even notice the lack of reviews! Great topic, Marie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, sometimes it’s just hard to come up with reviews and… with what to say on some particular books – for some people, coming up with discussions or memes or lists, just feels easier somehow. I feel that way sometimes too so I can’t really blame them. As long as we talk about books, we’re doing GREAT as book bloggers, I think πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment!! ❀

      Like

  3. Hello Marie!
    I love the discussion post! I absolutely felt the same way as you did when I first started blogging – I thought that book blogging means that I’ll have to keep posting book reviews. However I realized that I don’t like reviewing books too much because I don’t usually have 600-700 words to say about a book, even if I really liked it lol πŸ™‚ I also realized that the world didn’t end when I stopped posting reviews regularly. Now I write mini-reviews whenever I feel like it haha.
    You are right that there are many other ways to spread love about our favourite books, such as lists, memes, tags, and (my personal favourite) wrap-up posts! It is also in reading these posts that I discover new additions to my TBR, in addition to reviews. All in all I don’t think reviews are essential to book blogging. Great post Marie ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha and you’re doing GREAT with your mini reviews, they’re always so much fun to read! Also, I feel like “reviews” are really different from what I thought they’d be. They’re not necessarily long paragraphs, they can be short, lists, GIFs, etc. So much originality there, too, I love it πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this, Sophie! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you ❀ I've always been a bullet point person rather than a paragraph person, so I'm glad that the mini-reviews work πŸ™‚
        Yes! Reviews can be creative as well. I want to experiment with different styles in the future πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a fantastic post! I’ve definitely noticed the decline of book reviews on many popular blogs as well, and it’s intrigued me how people like to discuss books! Although I prefer to write several paragraph reviews of the books I read, I can understand why some people would find writing such a long post, tedious, and resort to Twitter instead. Loved all the point you brought up! ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an interesting post like always Marie! I have a hate-love relationship with reviews haha. Most of the time I love it, thus why I still write them, but sometimes it’s just so difficult and then I definitely do hate them πŸ˜‚
    I think one of the reasons why reviews may be less popular, is because they’re ‘less original’. Of course everyone has a voice and their own opinions, but when it comes to hyped books you do feel after a while like every review is saying the same thing (that happened to me with THUG, thus why I didn’t review it myself since I felt like I had nothing to add). Or sometimes I just don’t click on a review because I know I have no interest in reading that book, but with recommendation posts and the like I know there might be something there for me! I don’t know if this is the same for other people though haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahahaha I so get this feeling – I kind of have that,too?! I mean, most of the time I enjoy writing reviews, but some other times I just want to scream because I don’t know how the hell I can write this review hahaha.
      Oh that’s such an interesting point – it’s true that, even if reviews can be formatted differently, they’re a bit less original than all of the other blog posts out there.
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this!! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve noticed this as well! All of my posts that AREN’T book reviews tend to get a lot more comments than the ones that are talking about blogging and book-related things without talking about my thoughts on a book. I’ve been around as long as you have maybe, but I think there were once more book reviews and that’s what book blogging WAS what it was about – books and sharing thoughts about the book with the world.

    But over the years as more and more bloggers came it just became… repetitive? All of the book bloggers who have been around since 2009-2011 tend to dominate the blogging sphere, so the newer ones were getting overlooked and had to get creative, haha. But that’s just my opinion.

    I used to review a LOT more books when I first started in 2012 – that was back when I was in high school though and I could afford to write a blog post a day or more. Over the past few years I’m writing less and less posts and taking more thought – reviews aren’t becoming a priority anymore, and I don’t FEEL like writing reviews anymore for some reason.

    Lovely post as always, Marie! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you make such an interesting point – I guess new people maybe wanted a way to stand out and that’s why so many discussion posts and other kind of posts appeared, that makes sense πŸ˜€

      I get your feeling – I don’t have as much time as before and sometimes even struggle to write my posts for the week, so… sometimes I want to do discussion posts more than reviews, they appeal more to readers and to me as well sometimes πŸ˜€

      Thank you so much for sharin your thoughts on this, Sophia! ❀ ❀

      Like

  7. I think book reviews get fewer views because people like to have heard of or read the book before reading a post. But I don’t see them as not valuable for that reason. I like reading others’ thoughts on books and I do use blogger reviews to decide whether or not to read a book. I know a lot of people enjoy reviews. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will read every review I write, though–just the ones that interest them. And that’s okay with me. I enjoy writing reviews anyway.

    If a book blogger doesn’t write reviews, I would still want to see other book-related content like discussion posts focused on specific titles, for example. Some book bloggers never mention specific books or feature books and I do find it odd. It would be like a food blogger who talks theoretically about food but never cooks. I think there is a credibility issue they might have to address there in regards to “why should people read my opinions about books if I haven’t demonstrated I read any.” With so many book bloggers to choose from, credibility might become key in gaining followers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you make such an interesting point. I never thought of that credibility, but that’s a good point – I’ve come across bloggers doing loads of discussions, obviously, but there are some reviews here and there, too and… if there weren’t any reviews, sometimes it’s a bit, strange. I guess I’m not used to it though, haha. I admire people’s creativity to talk about books though πŸ˜€
      Thank you so, so much for sharing your thoughts on this πŸ˜€

      Like

  8. I like writing book reviews. And frankly, I read so many books and my memory is so much that of a gerbil, I don’t really remember much about any given book once I start reading the next one, unless it was SUPER FLIPPING SPECTACULAR. And maybe still not even then. A friend and fellow blogger just asked me about my favorite romances with plus sized heroines and while I knew I’d read some great ones, I was coming up totally empty. I had to go back and check my Goodreads shelves, and read through some old reviews to see if I could jog my memory about what this or that particular book was about. I remember I LIKED it, but without reading my review I really couldn’t tell you why I liked it, or why I’d recommend it.

    is that just me? How to people have these crazy memories? I’d LOVE to do recommendation list type things, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. I am a hummingbird – fully embracing each moment, and then moving on to the next moment and leaving the previous one in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I get it – sometimes I have trouble remembering the books I have read and especially the characters’ names, too, haha. Reviews are life-savers when it comes to that, and so is my Goodreads account, at least I can keep track of everything there hahaha πŸ™‚
      Nothing wrong with being a hummingbird though, you’re enjoying the moment and that’s fantastic πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! πŸ˜€

      Like

  9. It’s definitely not necessary but I won’t stop reviewing books on my blog because my blog is for me first, then everyone else and I like to have what I see as a bookish diary of all the books I’ve read – so I do review every book I read!

    Vee @ Under The Mountain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing that you review every book you read! I wish I had the time and… will to do it all as well haha. But yes you’re so right, your blog should be for yourself, first πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts ❀

      Like

  10. I’ve actually been struggling with this thought the past few months… I used to feel like I needed to write one book review post for every book that I read, and that worked for a while, until I found that I was actually forcing myself to write book reviews rather than having fun with them. I’ve learned to be more free with letting books go without a book review without feeling a sense of loss because, well, like you said: blogging if for whatever that makes the blogger happy, and book blogging definitely is not limited to book reviews. 😊 In fact, that actually makes blogging more exciting because of the amount of room I can experiment with sharing my love for books and stories! πŸ˜‹

    As always, thank you for writing such a thoughtful post, Marie! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you’re not feeling that way anymore, Zoie! ❀ Blogging should be fun, before anything else and we shouldn't force ourselves to write reviews if we're just, not feeling it, either πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I used to review anything I read. Now I just review books I either really loved or really hated or have other burning desire to talk about. I write them just to get all those feelings out of me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I can’t believe I am coming to this discussion this late 😦 I do think that book reviews are not mandatory for being a book blogger. However, I appreciate it when a book blog does have reviews. This is not only important for the publishers and writers but for the blogger community too because we get to see so many new books. I have discovered so many good books after reading your reviews πŸ˜€

    But yes, the reviews are not that popular and this is rather unfortunate? It becomes important to review books, especially for smaller bloggers like me, to get the review copies in future. Not that this is any forced thing, but yes, I like to review books too. I like to give my opinions and heard about others.
    But yes, it’s my thoughts. Nobody is bound to do reviews if they hate it πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh don’t worry about it, you’re so, so sweet reading and commenting on my discussion post, this means a lot! ❀ ❀
      I'm just like you, I appreciate it so much when I can see book reviews, I really enjoy reading them, even if they might be a bit less popular πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Well, it’s great to know that book blogging doesn’t necessarily mean writing reviews. I’m fairly new on the scene, hardly knowing left from right but I do know that actual reviews make up the bulk of my content cos I don’t know what else to make it up with. Anyway, so long as what I’m doing involves books and words, I figure I should be all right. Thanks for this enlightening post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As long as you’re talking about books and doing it with love, whether it’s book reviews or discussions or recommendations, you’ll do great πŸ™‚
      thank you for your sweet comment! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you – there are no hard rules and that’s what makes things fun as well, we can and should do however we please, as long as we have fun πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for stopping by, Nicole! ❀ ❀

      Like

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