2.28.2011

...Ramblings from a Librarian...(#6)

Book Reviews—Too Much Information?

While working in teen services in the public library, I am used to reading all sorts of reviews about books, whether it’s in a professional journal, a teen’s book review, or blogger’s reviews. For the most part, I read reviews to see whether the book was good, just ok, or bad. I don’t necessarily read too much into the summary of the book, because I feel like if a book is “good”, no matter what the book is about, readers will pick it up and give it a try. The one thing I do look for in a summary is whether or not the content is a little over the top, more specially, content such as sex, drugs, alcohol, ect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I won’t purchase a book with this content, but sometimes books feature this type of content in an over the top way that it trumps the whole point of the book.

As a reviewer for VOYA, I know I’m not supposed to keep the ending being a complete surprise. Granted, I typically don’t spell out exactly what happens, but I write my reviews to include a brief summary of what happens at the end. On the other hand, when I’m writing reviews for my blog, I do not give away or come close to giving away the ending of a book…or any other story line points that would give the book away. When I’ve given book talks at local schools, as much as I might want to talk about a key scene in the book that I’ve enjoyed, if it gives away any part of the story line, I won’t talk about it.

After reading a number of blogs, I’ve started to narrow down which blogs I read when it comes to book reviews. I’ve read some reviews that, although they might be beautifully written, give away the entire book. When I first started reading bloggers’ book reviews and noticed the trend to give away the whole book, I would jump down to the bottom of the review to read the actual reviewer’s opinion of the book rather than the summary. Then it got to the point that sometimes the blogger’s opinion gave too much of the book away. When I’m reading reviews in professional journals, I typically jump to the part in the review that gives the reviewer’s critical opinion of the book so I know whether or not it’s “good”.

In the end, I think there’s a fine line between how much information to give away when it comes to writing book reviews. Although my reviews might not be as lengthy as some bloggers’ reviews are, I just don’t want to include too much information. I want to write just enough to spark interest in my blog readers without giving away the story. I don’t think this necessarily makes me a bad blogger, but just a different type of blogger.

So, how do you feel about reading reviews? Do you find it frustrating that some reviews give too much information away? Or, would you rather know what happens in the book before reading it?

4 comments:

  1. Maybe librarians think alike... I usually don't read summaries, just enough to tell is it historical? paranormal? etc. I hate when the blog posts a summary, then proceeds to summarize in their own words. I also skip to the end or at least to the end of each paragraph to see how they FELT about the book. I don't need to know what happens. I try to set the scene in my reviews, but not give away much of the plot. My reviews tend to be fairly short, but I like them that way. Great thoughts!

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  2. I really dislike it when bloggers give out key parts of the plot. I don't want to know what happens! I try really hard not to give things away. Instead I talk more about my feelings and reactions. I hope I've struck a balance of giving useful information without giving away plot details, but I'm not sure.

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  3. I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only person who thinks this way! Thanks for the comments ladies! :-)

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  4. I review for SLJ, and like you, I try to hint at a book's ending without giving everything away. (like, "...with tragic consequences" to imply a sad ending, etc.) I think it's important for librarians to get a full picture of a book through a review, because they're reading the reviews to make purchasing decisions, not necessarily looking for their next pleasure read.

    On the other hand, I'm new to book blogging, so I'm surprised to hear that many book bloggers actually give away endings. Whaaaat? That doesn't make sense to me! I'm totally with you, just include enough information to pique interest, and don't give away the whole story!

    When I write for my blog, I try to be very brief about plot summary, in fact. I figure if the reader wants to know more, they can look up the publisher's description- I assume they would rather read what I thought about the book, rather than see me try to reinvent the wheel by describing the plot.

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