The Content of Book Reviews: Reading Experience v.s. Literary Analysis

You read book reviews right? You might also write them as well, but why? Over the time I have had to contemplate ways to improve my book reviews and my blog in general, I came across an interesting question that I thought would make for a great discussion.

The heart of this question deals with the purpose of book reviews or what a reader is to gain from reading book reviews. Of course, this question can be greatly expanded, and there are many common as well as unique reasons why we read or listen to book reviews. Therefore, discussing this matter on its own would be substantially complex and lengthy, so we shall save this discussion for a later date when more time is involved. Instead, we will focus rather on one of the topics numerous subquestions: What aspect of the book do we review?

This question in itself is also quite vague and can probably be taken many different ways, but I have attempted to simplify its answer into two responses. The first being a literary analysis and the second being the reading experience.

Literary Analysis

I feel as if this method is viewed as the "ideal" way to review books, but in all honesty, both ways have their own virtues. This way generally gives the appearance of having more depth by addressing things like plot development, character development, themes, relationships, symbolism, allusions, etc. Many of you might at first think that based on theses examples you do not often point out these aspects of a book in your reviews, but it actually is more common than you might think. Even if a person does not explicitly say, this book had great allusions to popular culture and a strong theme of  love, they still explained there were references to famous movies and an underlying love story in the book which has the same effect. Overall these types of reviews tend to give readers who have not read the book insight on its quality of the writing and plot and open up great discussions for those who have read the book.

Reading Experience

In my opinion, this particular approach is the one that is taken most often. Usually, it appears to be mostly in an attempt to review the book without spoiling its plot. This form of reviewing mainly describes the reviewers overall experience of reading the book including (but not limited to), pacing, emotions felt throughout the plot, reaction to the ending, surprises, whether or not they could put the book down, etc. This ends up being beneficial to those who have not read the book by giving them a glimpse of how the book will make them feel and if they will enjoy its plot twists and/or ending. These reviews also end up being beneficial to those who have already read the book because it affirms similar feelings/experiences you and the reviewer had during your time reading the book.

I would love to hear from you guys in the comments which two styles of reviews you tend to gravitate to and what type of review you believe you use most in your own reviews. Would you like to see more of a particular style and/or do you believe one to be more effective than the other? In my own reviews, I seem to utilize both approaches, but I will use one more than the other depending on the book I am reviewing and my favorite aspects of it. I believe both to be effective in their own way, and the best reviews usually have a little bit of both in them.

Have a wonderful day!


FTC Disclaimer: Books specified to be in the "ARC" or "eARC" format were sent to me for free by the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. How I acquired these items does not have an effect on my opinions and thoughts on them in my reviews. Everything written on this blog are my honest opinions only unless otherwise stated!

All book cover photos and synopses used in my posts were either sent to me directly by the author/publisher or gotten directly off of Goodreads and/or Amazon.

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