I’m having a bookish problem. And the problem is that I feel like I rarely ever get to actually discuss specific books.
See, I read a book, I review the book, I get some comments (mostly from people who haven’t read the book), I read some other reviews on Goodreads, maybe I mention or recommend the book in other types of posts… and that’s it. There’s no actual discussion going on in there! And that makes me sad.
Is it just me that this happens to? Is this a widespread bookworm problem? Does anyone else actually want to discuss specific books? I don’t know. I need answers and advice and people to vent to, so let’s discuss :-)
I think I summarized it pretty well in the intro, right? And I also mentioned this in my 2018 goals post. The problem is that writing and reading reviews is not the same as actually talking about or discussing a book.
Reviews Don’t Say Everything
For one thing, I don’t know about you all, but I leave a lot out of my reviews—and even now they’re already long. So if I put every single thought I had about a book into my review, it would be a ridiculous length. There’s what I liked, what I disliked, my thoughts on each character, my favorite scenes, things that affected me emotionally, things I related to, things I thought were cute or sweet, things that aggravated me, things that were just plain weird, my favorite quotes… there are so many things that I have thoughts about when I read books (although it obviously depends on the book to an extent). And I know that not all those things will truly be helpful in a review, especially if the review becomes too long for people to bother reading.
Reviews are Too Formal
For another thing, reviews are more formal than discussions and conversations. Granted my reviews are not exactly what I’d call professional—I curse and fangirl and do other weird things sometimes—but I’m still more guarded with what I say in reviews because I know it’s going to be something people read to try and decide whether they want to read a book or not or maybe even something an author or publisher reads (I don’t mean that influences me to write a positive review, just that it influences me to write the best review possible regardless of the rating).
Reviews are One-Sided
For yet another thing, reviews are mostly one-sided. Yeah, people comment, but even if the person has read the book, the comment is usually something along the lines of, “I loved the book too! I agree that the character development was fantastic!” I myself have made comments like that because reviews just aren’t always a format that’s very conducive to conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate every single comment I get on my review posts, whether the commenter has read the book or not, whether they’re interested in or are just happy for me that I liked it, etc.! But comments are usually not the same as a discussion when it comes to specific books. Without a back-and-forth exchange, you don’t get to delve deeper into anything.
I suppose one solution would be to have discussion posts about specific books, things that are separate from (or included with) the reviews. That would only work if the book were popular though, and I rarely read popular books. If I tried to have a discussion for an indie/self-pub book, it would just flop because, if none of my followers have read it, they wouldn’t be able to contribute. And the reality is that the post would mostly be seen by my followers, not other readers of the book, because how many people actually go searching on Google or social media for discussion posts about every book they read? And I have a feeling that even a discussion post for a popular book might be hard to pull off since it’d likely turn out like the review. But if you had something really specific in mind to discuss about a well-known book though, or just a topic in a book, I suppose a discussion post could work.
Book clubs have always seemed super fun to me because I feel like discussing books is literally the whole point, right? There are real life book clubs and online book clubs on Goodreads, so that means really anyone can find one. Except my first issue there is that I’m a mood reader and would never be in the right mood at the right time for the book being read. The other problem is that I just don’t know how to interact with people online. Ok, that sounds weird since I interact with you all every week by writing posts, responding to comments, visiting other blogs, etc., but this took me time to get the hang of. And I still feel socially awkward trying to insert myself into a group of strangers online in a forum/group sort of situation. I don’t understand the etiquette, I find it hard to know what to say or how to act without all those visual and verbal cues you get in real life, and I always feel like an awkward outsider.
There are also Goodreads and Facebook groups for specific authors/books/series. I know that at least a few of the books I’ve read have Facebook groups. But I run into the same problem with those—I don’t know how to interact. Also, from the little I’ve seen of these types of groups, the conversation seems to be kind of similar to the comments on reviews—skimming the surface with general (albeit maybe spoiler-filled) comments like, “This book was so amazing! I can’t believe the ending!” and then everyone agrees. (But I could be seriously generalizing there because I said, I’ve never actually immersed myself into any of these groups.)
Commenting on Goodreads
Something I have tried on a couple occasions, since I read mostly indie books and therefore don’t usually know anyone who’s read them, is commenting on random people’s reviews on Goodreads. I mean, hey, they’ve read the book, so maybe they’ll want to discuss! Who cares if we’re strangers since we have this book in common! That’s really hit or miss though. I’ve had some people respond, but I’ve had other comments get ignored. And from my post about using Goodreads, I now know that a lot of people really only use GR to post reviews or keep track of what they’ve read, and they aren’t social on it.
Chatting with Friends
Last but not least, chatting one-on-one (in person or online) with a friend who’s also read the book is definitely an option. Except, obviously, that requires having a friend who has also read the book and is willing to chat. And you have to read it close enough together that you both still remember it. It also requires that the book in common be one that you actually care enough to discuss (because let’s face it, some books you really don’t have anything to say about beyond whatever you wrote in the review). And here’s where the fact that I’m mostly an indie reader becomes a problem again. I have some popular books though, so what’s my excuse for those? I guess I don’t always know who would be interested in chatting and, in some, I just don’t know what to say or how to get the conversation started.
Talk Books with Me!
I don’t know if I’m alone here with this problem, but if anyone reads any of the same books as me and wants to chat about them or about anything specific that happened in them or about your favorite character, send me a message on Twitter or Goodreads or email or something! We don’t even have to agree, I like debating disagreements over things in books too :-)