Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Past the Formalities

Have you ever stumbled across a blog that is exceptionally fun and entertaining to read? The author's posts are passionate and energetic, and they sound similar to an email you may send your bookish friend. They immediately draw you in, making you think, wow, this is a fantastic blog, and the next thing you know you have followed by email and added the site to the blogroll on your sidebar.

I am sure that almost all of you either read or run a blog like this, because our community is a pretty casual one; we bloggers have practically unlimited freedom with what we post and are able to review books in our own special way, including cute GIFs and expressions of enthusiasm if desired. This is a luxury that professional reviewers do not have, and I love the overall informality we hold. It allows us to get to know each other better, which is great for building friendships and obtaining book recommendations from a person who shares similar tastes rather than a faceless man behind a Kirkus review.

But, as much as I love this fantastic blogging style, it is not my own. And, because of the seemingly overwhelming amount of fabulous bloggers who are loved for their relaxed writing, this makes me a bit insecure.

I am not saying that I never talk about my opinion of the novel in question in a book review, because I do. My reviews are personal in that I do talk about myself as much as the next blogger-what I thought of the book, how I connected to it on a personal level, how I related to the main character-but I always feel that my lack of common language, slang, and, usually, contractions, will somehow alienate people. I know this is ridiculous, and that someone who likes my blog is not going to turn her back on me because I emphasize using italics instead of ALL CAPS or say will not instead of won't. I simply think that there is something comforting and engaging, though, in a blog whose reviews read like a casual conversation with your best friend.

Take Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner, for example. I adore her blog and love how she does things like post about her butt and include personal confessions of her own teenage pranks in her review of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. She is completely fun and open with everything she posts, which is a fantastic blogging style, and she has seemingly thousands of readers to show for it.

But it is no better than my own, as I frequently have to remind myself. We have vastly different approaches to writing, but they are of equal merit and we both chose them for one reason alone: they fit our personalities and visions for our blogs.

My reviews are quintessentially me. They reflect my thoughts, my writing style, and the way I want my blog to be viewed, and I have wonderful blogging friends I have gotten to know even with a reviewing method that is a bit more traditional. The YA book blogosphere gives us so much opportunity to blog the way we want to blog, and I sincerely hope all of you take advantage of that. All posts that were written with thought, effort, and care have immense value, so find your style, love it, embrace it, and never let anyone else change it.

Let's discuss: What are your review-writing tendencies? Do you ever question them? Do you prefer casual reviews, more formal reviews, or like both equally?


  1. I like both review styles equally. I like humorous reviews just as much as the more serious and informative ones. For me, my reviews are more to the point, sometimes with some humor and gifs added in. I know what you mean about being insecure that your reviews aren't casual enough. I have thought the same thing.

  2. I write pretty formally in my reviews (though I do use the CAPS LOCK OF EMOTION). Reading-wise, I like both styles. The fact that everyone has his or her own voice is one of the best parts of the blogging community!

  3. I'm still working on my blogging style and writing. It isn't perfect and I'm have a long way to go before I have any steady large group of followers. But I love reading and sharing my thoughts on books with other people.

  4. Im new to blogging and I sometimes feel like I never write enough. And sometimes, I just don't know how to describe my feelings about a book. I hope to improve on time and I really love this post. :)

  5. Well, as you know, I write "informally" I guess you could say. Gifs make me happy and smile...I have also become a tad obsessed. However, I like to read both kinds of writing styles. My friend Gilly at Writer of Wrongs has seriously one of the most amazing blogs with some hilarious gifs. Even without them, I'm entertained because of her writing style. But then I also love your writing style and am entertained by it as well. Maybe it's because I love your blog so much or because you talk like in your blog as you do in your emails...I don't know, but I would be taken aback if you suddenly started changing. With that said, I'm glad you don't conform to everybody with casual writing and start to do something that's not YOU. You have fantastic posts and blog and what made me start reading was how YOU write and what you wrote about.

    This is a great post, Emily! Also, Ellie up there made me laugh and I totally agree with her about the CAPS LOCK OF EMOTION.

  6. For some reason, I can never seem to make my reviews conversational. That's not my writing style, though I admit I sometimes wish it could be. When I started my blog, I constantly reminded myself that my reviews weren't supposed to be formal, that they weren't term papers, that I could break grammar rules and show enthusiasm, and that I didn't need to use semicolons in every other sentence. My reviews still fall on the "traditional" side, though, and sometimes I slip back into those habits. Maybe I should stick with them.

    The one thing I have noticed is that occasionally the tone of my reviews will change based on the book. I have read a few books that were so light and fun that it seemed wrong to not have my review be light and fun also. Conversely, more serious books made me feel the need to have a more serious tone. This may only happen to me, however.

    I think both styles of reviews have their place, and I read and enjoy both. As for writing them - this post will definitely have me thinking more about the next reviews I write!

  7. I don't even call my stuff "reviews" but discussions instead, because I think I would go into full academic mode and obsess way too much if I did. I am cool with expressing how a book made me feel and not dissecting the writing stle etc. BUT I LOVE blogs that do. There is definitely room for many different types of reviews & discussions. Some people will gravitate towards different things, and more than one style.


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