Blog | Eugene Havens

Why avid readers should be avid reviewers

Start writing online book reviews and you'll double the fun of reading.

Keyboard, headphones, mouse, journal
Author Eugene Havens

About Me

Eugene Havens is the founder of The Writing Thing Press. A graduate of the MFA program at The New School, Eugene is the author of Marble on a Table: A Novel. See Eugene's author page.

There’s more to it

What if we told you there’s more to reading books than finishing one and picking up another? If that’s your routine, there’s one crucial step left. It’s leaving a review of the book you just read on a book website.

The final step is leaving a review of the book you just read

“Leave a review?” you may be thinking. “I’m a reader, not a writer! Besides, I don’t want to share my thoughts publicly. For me, reading is personal.”

We get it. Reading is the most intimate form of storytelling. There’s nothing like diving into a book and getting lost in it. But when you finish a book and come up for air, do you genuinely want to keep your experience to yourself? Let us convince you, no. You want to share it. You just need to know why.

Sharing is caring

First off, consider yourself notable. In this age of streaming video, reading is a brave, creative act. An avid reader isn’t satisfied with passively watching a screen all night. We crave seeing a story unfold in our mind’s eye. By turning a book’s pages, we make the story go.

Readers are more likely to encounter new ideas and learn regularly. Readers are mavericks and tastemakers. They have something to say, and that includes you!

… books are the starting point for a more significant conversation.

Only, when you keep your reading impressions to yourself, you deny others access to your singular ideas. We miss out on your perspective. Sure, for some folks, books are an end unto themselves. For many others, however, books are the starting point for a more significant conversation. This social aspect of reading requires us to be a bit fearless, a bit public, and share our points of view.

Pay it back

To find your next read, you’ll likely rely on user reviews. You’ll head over to Goodreads. Scroll through your social media feeds for a tip. You’ll go to Amazon and view a book’s star rating.

We do this because we know a book is more than a collection of pages. It holds a creative soul. We don’t want to read just any book. We want one that speaks to us, and like-minded readers can help point the way. Among the art forms, books are a little introverted. Like shy friends, books require an introduction.

Like shy friends, books require an introduction.

If you benefit from generous readers who make time to share, do you feel obligated to do the same? 

Authors need you

Writers need those reviews, too! The fact is, today’s author can’t succeed through the sale of a book alone. There’s very little money in bookselling. To find any success, an author needs readers like yourself leaving honest, compelling reviews. The sale of a book is almost nothing. The report you give is everything.

The report you give is everything.

Let’s try this. Have you considered the actual cost of a book you buy for $20? Let’s say it took the author 500 hours to write. You’re getting quite a deal—a fraction of a penny per hour.

What if someone wrote that book just for you? At a reasonable $20 per hour, a single copy would cost you $10,000! You begin to see the economics of being an author. Real money is only possible after many thousands of sales. How could that ever happen if satisfied readers fail to review the book for others?

Savor it

Chances are you have strong impressions of the books you read. Perhaps you don’t talk about your ideas, or write them down. It seems as if they’re not there.

For this reason, many avid readers keep reading journals. It’s a place where you can jot down thoughts and feelings about a book. As with any type of journaling, you’ll be surprised by what’s in your head. There’s a wealth of information you might be overlooking. Ideas you discover could easily make up a book review.

… many avid readers keep a reading journal.

It’s like taking time to savor good food. If you simply swallow a bite quickly, it has the same nutritional value. Of course, your enjoyment of your meal will be much less.

Don’t write

Perhaps we’ve convinced you to write a book review. But how? Our advice is, don’t write it.

We’ve had this happen. Someone says, “I loved the book.” This person gives a compelling quote about how the book moved her. Then she “writes” a review. It comes out stiff, clunky, and not at all like how she feels. Some readers think they need to impersonate a great art critic. If you’re not a writer, don’t try to write, because you don’t need to.

Some readers think they need to impersonate a great art critic.

Instead, why not try speaking your review into your phone’s voice app? Talk about the book for five minutes. Your ideas will be spontaneous and, best of all, real. Then type it out. It’s what we want to read.

Where to?

There are many websites that accept book reviews. Where you bought the book would be a natural place to post, but there are others. As we mentioned above, Goodreads is a popular social site for avid readers. Posting there becomes a hobby for many.

Where you bought the book would be a natural place to post

If you run a blog, your followers will want to know about your reading adventures. Facebook would be another venue. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could leave your review on multiple sites.

If it’s your first time writing a review, try to be specific. Remember to say more than, “It held my interest.” We want your unique take in your own words. It’s what makes a book review shine.

You might like it

After you leave your review, see what people have to say. You might enjoy the response that comes from giving your opinion. You could get a like or a reply. The conversation has begun.

It’s a great time to be an avid reader. There have never been more sources for quality books or formats to choose from. When you step out of your comfort zone and review a book, everyone wins, from the author to prospective readers. All by yourself, you strengthen the reading community.

Smart, credible reviews help others, and as we know, helping others always helps us. Read, review, repeat.

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