You'll notice something about my blog: I don't write book reviews. I do Friday Reads every week, but I don't tell you if I'd recommend the book or not, or pick apart what I thought worked well and what I thought was a little meh.
This is deliberate.
I've noticed something in a lot of writerly blogs and Goodreads reviews--we're squeamish about truly reviewing books. We're happy to recommend and gleeful about sharing what we love, but we're hesitant to say "This wasn't up to par for reasons I shall enumerate herein."
Yes, there are nasty reviews out there. And yes, there are still honest, forthright reviewers, too. But for the most part? We as writers are kind of yes men to books.
Maybe it's because we're all reading things we truly, truly enjoy and can find nothing negative to say. Maybe it's just because we appreciate the work and dedication that go into a book and gloss over anything we're not fond of relatively easily--more easily than a non-writer could.
I think it's more than that, though--I think we aren't quite sure how to be critical yet supportive of our fellow writers. I'm not sure, actually, that we can be effective critics and effective support teams. To me, when one reviews a book, one is responsible to potential readers, not to the author. The author is owed nothing in the review except for fair consideration. The reader, however, is owed honesty and criticism and praise to carefully weigh the choice of a purchase and time spent reading. A review doesn't exist to help an author promote books--it exists to share the reading experience with other readers and help them decide whether to purchase the book or not.
I'm not sure how often reviews sway a purchase--I know I've bought books without reading reviews, and I've even bought books having read negative reviews, knowing that the things the reviewer complained about would be things I would actually enjoy. Still, I'm not up for that responsibility here. Especially if I'm reading and sharing a book written by someone I know--someone from my network here in WebernetWritingWorld.
So I don't review books--I share what I'm reading and let you take things from there. At some point I might find myself more comfortable with the idea--but right now I'm not willing or able to be a true reviewer.
What do you think? Am I overthinking what it means to review a book? Are you able to be an objective reviewer, or do you find it difficult?