Friday, March 13, 2015

Is Less More?

I’m approaching the half-way point of my quest, and I’d appreciate some feedback.

The main thing I’m pondering, as you can probably infer from the subject line, which is preferable: long or short review?

Many of my earlier reviews contained rather long synopses. Of course, “long synopses” is an oxymoron; stupid bovines notwithstanding, I’ve been aiming for shorter synopsis lately, a bit more of my own impressions or favorite moments, themes, characters, or lines, but a shorter review in total.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Well Wanderer, it’s your blog; write whatever type/length review you like.

Point taken, and agreed.

However, I like people to read my reviews and I like them to like reading my reviews and I like them to return and read more of my reviews, so… I am interested in your opinion: shorter or longer?

Two examples: Nostromo (shorter review (looks long, but only because of the artwork)) vs To the Lighthouse (longer review).

Of course, I’d welcome any other feedback: hate the layout, like the star ratings, love the cover art, etc, but mostly, what do you hope to learn when you read someone else’s book review? And maybe even more importantly, anything you especially don’t want to learn?

Me? When reading others reviews, I don’t want much of a synopsis and definitely no spoiler without a warning. Some reviews are very analytical, scholarly even, while others are more emotive. I like both, with a slight preference for the latter. Primarily I want to know: did you like it? Why or why not?


  1. Personally, I agree with you about the shorter synopses. I've actually taken to linking to Amazon or Wikipedia for people to read them if they're interested. And then what follows is more often just a verbal explosion of my thoughts on a particular novel, tangents included.

  2. I always think shorter is better: get to the point! However, you have got to write about what inspires, and that will keep a blog reader reading. Sometimes a book is so deep, so challenging, and you feel like you can go on and on about every detail. In that case, I think you should, to the best of your ability, include all that is essential to sharing what moved you about the story.

    Sometimes you can do a review in two posts b/c you want to break it up and keep your readers coming back. I do that when I am concerned my ramblings are too long.

    When reading other reviews, I don't care as much for the synopsis of the plot as much as I do about what the reader felt and thought about the impact the book had on him. Tell me why you loved it or hated it. I tend to write reviews like everyone in the world has already read the book, except me, so I leave out the plot and talk about characters and events like everyone knows what I am talking about. That may or may not be such good advice.

    Hope that helps.

  3. I normally use Goodreads synopsis because I feel bad for people that haven't read it that get confused by my review. Unfortunately, I do forget to mark spoilers sometimes, though normally I try to. I feel like my reviews are so random though... sometimes they're long, sometimes they're short and sometimes they go very deeply into the story and sometimes I just brush the surface.
    However, I have liked your reviews so I think you're doing something right. ;)

  4. I like a person's response to a book more than a retelling of the story. With many classical books most people have an idea of the gist of the story anyway. The other thing I find helpful personally, is if there's anything in the book that might be unsuitable for a younger reader because I'm always looking out for good stuff to give my kids who may not be ready for some more adult themes.

  5. Geoff, Ruth, Lois, Carol....Thanks for the feedback!


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