Why I Don't Write "Professional" Reviews

I thought I'd just take some time to mention something I wrote about in a university essay application. I've recently seen some posts about how people write their reviews, what their review process was like, and I thought: Hmm... why not?
The reason I'm bringing this up is because for the Common App Essay, I wrote about blogging and how much that's shaped my life for the past couple of years. One of the things I mentioned was how I generally saw my reviews and my personal take on the tone of my reviews.

I love blogging. Honestly, I do. Everyday I'm doing something blog-related, whether it be reading a book for the blog, posting a review, or something else just generally always points back to Confessions of a Readaholic. I wouldn't be kidding if I said this was my life. I would be perfectly content to blog for the rest of my life– that's how in love with blogging and books I am.
Anyway, before I stray off into a topic that has NOTHING to do with what I had planned to to talk about (that's for a later day), let me answer the question:

So, why DON'T I write "professional" reviews?

I just want to say before I venture off into a pretty lengthy answer to this question, the quotation marks around professional was not meant to mock professional reviews. I just clearly don't know what to call them, that's all. Formal? Proper? Editorial? See, I don't even know what else I could call it. Just clearing this up!

I'm currently in my senior year at school and I'm in the IB program. The IB you ask? International Baccalaureate. Aka, a school system. Aka, every student's nightmare. I take higher level English Literature, and because of this I'm completely thrown into this world of analysing, and looking at author's choices, and coming up with several interpretations of why Shakespeare chose to use the word "green" in King Claudius' first monologue in Hamlet. While at times I do love it, I feel that the strain of having to analyse every single word choice, and look at every single contextual detail, and many other things is so strenuous and extremely tiring. I mean, I just read A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison which is a modern retelling of Hamlet and I'm pretty sure I analysed the heck out of that thing. This to me is SUCH A PAIN, since I've always read books a certain way with certain "categories".

Category 1: The IB/School Reading List books. These are the books that I analyse and read pretty much 3-5 times depending on how much work is done on it. Books this year have included Hamlet, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Ghosts, Paradise of the Blind, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, George Orwell's essays, and so on. You get the point.

Category 2: YA (and sometimes MG books). These are the books I LIVE for, the source of my joy, my entertainment, my frustration, my anger, my sadness– possibly all emotions that you could name. I read these for both the blog and my own pleasure.

Category 3: Other. This category generally contains classics that I've read for my own pleasure, and adult chick-lit books which I've read anomalously from time to time when I find one that interests me. Purely for my own time (HA! If I had any...).

Hopefully, you get the general idea. I created this book blog to write about the books I'm interested in and my personal thoughts on it. I didn't want to become this person who looks very closely at details and becomes almost like an editor. That's pretty much the job of the editor and beta-readers– to spot out mistakes. What I believe that a book blogger's job to do is to promote books. Generating buzz, selling the book– most people don't really want to read the book from an studying standpoint. They read for fun. They're most likely looking for books that they can snuggle into the blankets with. THAT I believe is the role of a book blogger.
I mean, sure. I could write formal-sounding reviews, but it wouldn't be much fun, would it? Here's an example, and for this I shall be using These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner.


These Broken Stars had a well executed plot, a believable romance, and a hero and heroine that readers will relate to. The plot progression was unique to that of others– it constantly switches between the two perspectives of our main characters, Tarver and Lilac. The chemistry with the both of them worked undeniably well, and hence gave the story brevity, and will allow the reader to escape into this thoroughly developed world.


These Broken Stars? I'm in awe. Literally: jaw-dropped-eyes-wide-in-shock awe. This book was SO freakin' amazing! I fell in love with the characters from page one, and found myself flipping pages, longing to go back to the book when I couldn't. I found myself hooked into this fantastic world of romance, and intrigued by the deadly mystery.

You can see the difference right?
I'm not saying that the professional review is wrong or stupid or whatever. Actually, I think it's quite good– considering I wrote it in around a minute. The ideas come through and sound extremely, well, professional. The only problem I find with it is the fact that it lacks feeling. Anyone could have written that review. There's no personal attachment to the book, and if it were printed as a blurb, the person who'd written the review might not even recognize that he or she wrote it (other than the fact that the name of the person/blog is printed below it). It's pretty common place and sounds like you read the book, it was good, and you're writing a formal paper on it. 
My kind of review on the other hand... you don't have to be a genius to know that it's definitely personal. You can tell that I loved the book and that I'm just really hyped up about it: WHICH IS GOOD! That means more promoting for the book = more sales = authors are happy and so am I (as well as the people who buy the book, because this book is AMAZING people).

One thing I can't ever get around to doing is writing in the books I receive for review. I mean, I literally cringed when I had to annotate my copy of Dracula and Frankenstein, two books which I have copies of so that I COULD annotate it. I can't annotate books I have one copy of, and that's a fact. I just keep thinking of tarnishing such beautiful pages and can't bring myself to do so! It's a little bit sad... because that means later on when writing a review I have to flip all the way back if I didn't type up things I liked or didn't like right after reading the book, and I'll have to find quotes I loved etc. It's a bit of a pain, but that kind of also allows me to elaborate a little bit on my own personal feelings towards the text, rather than having to feel like I'm analyzing it.

I know my reviews can be a little immature at times, especially with the huge amount of fangirling I do. Pretty much any book that contained a boy I LOVED, I can guarantee that the review will have over-the-top fangirling. Why? Because I'm seventeen and have the right to. And plus teenage hormones. Always teenage hormones. You can't argue with that logic.
This comes along with language (I never swear in my reviews, and if I do I always apologize like a gajillion times), and THE USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS. WHICH I PRETTY MUCH DID THROUGHOUT THIS POST. Oops.

So when it comes down to it, I don't mind professional reviews. I love sites like Kirkus, and other professional review sites, or even book blogs that review things very professionally. But I find myself drawn to those reviews that use GIFs, fangirling, ballistic freaking out... that even NEGATIVE REVIEWS sound amazing! I'm a fan of snark and sarcasm, loud and proud!

I guess that's all I have for today. I'm a little tired out with all the fast typing to be honest.

Anyway, do you have a preference when it comes to reading or writing reviews? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I write reviews like you too! Full of fan-girling and emotions and feels! Sometimes I try writing professional reviews but they don't come out well because it seems like they don't have a soul...
    I personally prefer reading fan-girly type of reviews or the kind of reviews that really show what the reviewer felt. And I LOVE reviews with GIFs!
    Awesome post! I really enjoyed reading it :)

    ~ Hira @ Views & Reviews

  2. This post really made me think about what type of reviewer I am! Sometimes, I think I'm trying to be way too professional so I'm now taking a challenge in letting my thoughts flow a bit more. Great post! This is such a thought-provoking one!

    Sophie @ A Day Dreamer's World(http://a-day-dreamers-world.blogspot.co.uk/ )

  3. There's a place and time for each, you know?

    In terms of what we actually ENJOY more? The personal ones. That's why we're so entrenched in the blogging community too. There's also a social aspect to personal reviews (whether on blogs, Twitter, GoodReads, whatever) that doesn't exist with professional reviews, which are more neutral and faceless in many cases. (Like, Kirkus is not a person. We can't grab coffee with Publishers Weekly. And even though there are individual reviewers credited at newspapers like the New York Times or wherever, they're not looking to be our friends. :P)

    Glad you know what you're in this for, and that you're not being swayed in a different direction from what makes you happy!

  4. I don't know how to even write professional reviews! What I do on Goodreads is usually ramble on and on about the books and FEEEELS.

    I think I'm more inclined to read a book that people gush about instead of, you know, professionally review it.

  5. You read way better books for the IB program than I did. I had to read Dubliners which left me with a forever hate for James Joyce (and almost everything else I read.)

    I definitely prefer the non-professional review. Tell me how you really feel and if we agree, we can squee together, you know?


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I'll try to visit your blog (if you have one) and comment back!