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Reflection

First Anniversary and Reviewing Thoughts

Today is my blog’s 1st anniversary. (Wow is it one year already?!!) Bernardette’s entry article on reviewing., got me thinking about reviewing myself. When I first read her post I it would be a interesting to reflect on what I have done so far, after a year of book reviewing:

Do you find that the anticipation of reviewing the book has changed your reading experience?

Not very much. I still aim to have a good mix between fiction and non-fiction read, knowing that non-fiction won’t be a crowd pleaser. I picked up books from shops and library as I want to read them.  I use a big post-it as my bookmark and jot down notes on memorable quotes or beautiful prose, as I always do well before I start blogging about books.

Like Bernadette, reviewing has changed my after-read experience. Since I started this blog I have reviewed every book I’ve read, even the ones I had abandoned. I spend as long as it takes to encapsulate my thoughts and feelings about the book, and try to capture the essence of the book by quoting my favourite paragraphs, and hopefully write a brilliant review (not always possible!). I now retained a lot more of what I read and that is the biggest benefit derived from this exercise.

Are you rating the book even as you read? Or do you wait until the end to sum it all up?

Towards the middle of the book I already have a tentative rating in my head. I like to be proven wrong if the story picks up and became more interesting, Say if I start with a 4 it possibly escalates into a 4.5 or a 5. If I start with a 2 or a 3, chances are I’ll abandon the book mid-way. The ending of a book is not a show stopper for me, If I have enjoyed the ride, and have a big crash on a dismal book ending, chances are I will still give the book a good rating, if I have a good experience insofar.

Does knowing you’ll be reviewing it (or rating it) publicly affect which books you pick up in the first place?

No. I read what I want to read, including perceived boring non-fiction books. I even have a problem joining a book club because I like the liberty to read what I want to read, anytime, anywhere. However, I fall prey in all things new. So whenever there is a new anticipated book out in the market and everybody’s reading it, or a book that I know my blogger friends are reading, I tend to read that first so that I’m able to share similar experience with everybody.

Does the process of writing the review itself change how you felt about the book?

The process of reviewing is a reflection of self and the world around me. There are books with topics that are close to heart which incite many private emotions, some which are too private or embarrassed to be shared in a public space. Reviewing books helps me understand my thoughts about certain incidents in my life, helps me keep the lessons learnt alive, helps clarify how I feel and what I think. As I would have decided what I feel about the book throughout the reading experience, rarely does the process of writing a review change how I feel about the book.

Reading other people’s review of the same book occasionally change how I felt about the book, only to love the book a little more! So best if I write a review oblivion of what other people might say about the book. 

What is your motivation to assign a rating to a book and declare it to the world?

My motivation to rate a book is to give my review an anchor in numeric terms. At year end I like to sum up my top 10 favourite books of the year and the first point of reference would be my ratings.

My motivation to share the rating with others is to entice like minded readers to start a discussion. I start by rating my reviews on http://www.Shelfari.com and Amazon, in the same way the ratings in these websites have helped me decide whether I should read the book or not, I hope my ratings in my blog help others the same way, or the least it would do is to spark an interest in reading the book.

If you review a book but don’t rate, why not? What do you feel is your role as reviewer?

I try to rate every books. But if there is an occasion I am unable to do so it is because the book’s good points and bad points have even out each other and I feel indifferent or ambivalent about it. But I would still take the middle path and rate it a 3. On occasions when I skim read a book, I don’t rate them either. I always look back on my own rating definition and make sure that I rate them objectively.

I see my role as a reviewer as sharing my honest thoughts and feelings about the book. I aim to be objective and would not be afraid to say what I feel even risking condemnation from fans of the books I hated. The feedback I usually get is that my review inspires people to want to read the book. This draws from my “glass half full” optimistic take on the book I have read. If you live long enough to know that if you choose to see the good side of life, everywhere you turn your head you will see beautiful things; and if you choose to see the worse of everybody, all you will ever see are grumpy, grouchy people around you. The experience of book reviewing is the same, unless the book is really, really horrible.

I have met readers who opposed to ratings and didn’t like to be told what they should feel about a book. All I can say is that my rating is to serve my purpose primarily, and to persuade other people to read the book, secondary.

Finally…..

Overall, blogging about books brings great value to the blogger and other readers. One year on:

  • I am inspired by the many good books I’ve read.
  • I am oblivious about Sunday salon, book clubs, Dewey challenges and give aways, prefer to stay on the fringe as spectators.
  • I watched with delight as hit rate climb from 5 to 9 hits per day to 50 hits per day.
  • I thank everyone who subscribe to my blog and read patiently of my long entry.
  • I make lots of new friends that spur me on to read much more and better quality stuff.
  • I want to thank you everyone who visited and drop comments. Thanks to the silent lurkers as well.

Having this blog is best thing I ever did.  First entry of my blog, one year from today: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Happy Birthday Bibliojunkie! 🙂

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About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “First Anniversary and Reviewing Thoughts

  1. Happy blogbirthday. I meant to write an anniversary post for my blog birthday which was just over a month ago but, in yet more evidence that I am a naughty blogger, I completely forgot. Perhaps I shall write a happy 14 month post or something.

    I wish I could read more non-fiction like you. I used to read a lot of it for leisure but because my job involves lots of reading of fairly uninspiring non-fiction I find that I want to escape work all together and stick with fiction. But my reading life goes through phases (I haven’t always read crime fiction non-stop) so I’m sure my poor addled brain will tell me when it’s time to move on from murder and mayhem 🙂

    Posted by bernadetteinoz | November 30, 2009, 10:02 am
    • Jill, Thanks. word of the day = Blogoversary… cool!

      Bernadette, Every day is worth celebrated. Not too late for a 14-month post. It’s interesting people that I talked to seems to start blogging almost the same time as I am, and I thought I was a late bloomer. 🙂

      I read a lot of Policy and Procedures at work, and required to write some of them, including frameworks…. But some non-fictions are such a joy to read. I have ditched my management books behind and trade them for travel writings, and true stories. Stuff like Freakonomics are a joy to read. I’ll be watching for your switch from murder to …. whatever your next phase would be, thriller maybe? (I’ve noticed you are not reading the latest Dan Brown yet!)

      Posted by jovenus | November 30, 2009, 9:06 pm
  2. Happy blogoversary! May you have many more!!!

    Posted by rhapsodyinbooks | November 30, 2009, 5:19 pm
  3. Oh yeah, Happy blogoversary!

    Your blog is a book review heaven.

    Btw, it just striked on me, if you’d like to monetize from your blog a bit, you probably can join Amazon as affiliate add the link to the book you reviewed for purchase.
    Just my 2 cents worth. 🙂

    Posted by Marvin Lee | December 1, 2009, 12:01 am
  4. Happy birthday! I hope you have many more – and read many more books!

    Posted by sherby57 | December 4, 2009, 3:27 pm
  5. Hey Thanks Steve. Same goes to you! I saw your Secret Santa’s gifts, I’m ogling at them too!

    Posted by Jovenus | December 4, 2009, 10:06 pm

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Mockingjay
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City


JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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