Monday Musings | Adding Value to Reading

Karen from One More Page kmn04books

As I was writing my review for Etta and Otto and Russell and James last week, I felt, for the first time in a long time, that it was a struggle. Don’t get me wrong – I love reviewing books, but for that one in particular, I was flailing to articulate how I was affected (positively) by its tone and imagery without turning the whole post into a huge synopsis that lacked depth.

My struggles had me thinking about how simultaneously wonderful the process of writing a difficult review is. Think about it: had I not committed myself to writing this review, I probably would have finished the book and thought, “Hmm, I really loved that book” without giving it a second thought. But writing about the book pushed me to dig deeper and analyze why exactly I felt so strongly: was it the writing? The characters? The comparison between leaving home and being left behind? (Yes yes and yes.) Now that I’ve finished my review, I feel thankful that the process helped me pinpoint what exactly made me fall in love with the text.

My recent review of Miranda July’s The First Bad Man is another example where writing/talking about the book helped me analyze the story. I wasn’t initially enamored with the plot and I’ll admit that I did think it was quite an odd book – maybe even too odd for me. But, after many days of thinking about what I would write about it, I came across the Gillian Flynn quote I cited in my review that was the lightbulb I needed. Suddenly, instead of just being a strange book with an oddball character, The First Bad Man became a book that I would encourage people to read. I feel strongly that different and unique women should be represented in literature (and all forms of art), and I’m happy that my review process guided me to this conclusion.

I’m not sure if this Monday Musing makes sense to anyone but me, but I wonder if you’ve ever felt the same way? Has talking or writing about a book helped cement your feelings towards it? Do you think reviewing and discussing books adds value to the reading process and to the book itself?

7 thoughts on “Monday Musings | Adding Value to Reading

  1. Cynthia says:

    Great post! I try to take some notes along the way of impressions so they stay clear in my mind. Sometimes I do forget to do that. I swear, this morning I sat in front of my computer for half an hour trying to start a review of my recent book. But once I started, I was able to clearly convey what I needed to say (I think).

  2. Naomi says:

    Writing reviews for the books I read has definitely helped me dig deeper into books, and help sort out how I feel about them and why. I wish I had been doing this for years, even just for myself. Sometimes I still struggle with what to say and how to say it, but saying anything at all is better than saying nothing.

  3. Leah says:

    I think writing reviews really does add value to my reading. It’s one thing to put down a book after finishing it and thinking “I liked that” or “I didn’t like that,” and another thing to really think about *why* I liked it or didn’t like it. I definitely get a lot more out of a book when I make myself think carefully about its themes and how the author carried them out.

  4. The Paperback Princess says:

    Absolutely! It’s why I blog and am part of a book club. Sometimes I will go to book club thinking about a book a certain way and then we discuss it from different angles and I leave thinking about it differently. That’s why blogging is so rewarding – you get that feeling more regularly than every 2 months book club.

  5. Milliebot says:

    Starting to review books has definitely helped me articulate my opinions. Before I would basically just like or dislike a book without thinking why. Sometimes I still have trouble expressing myself but for the most part it’s nice to think a little deeper about each book I read.

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