Before & After #9: Reactions To Books

So you guys. Since early 2012 I’ve been working on this post I wanted to do about the differences between myself as a reader before I was a blogger and after I became a blogger because my habits have changed SO MUCH. I kept putting it off because of wedding plans. I wanted to make this cute graphic that was a list but, when I finally started to work on it this year, it was just looking TOO crowded with about 30 different things and overwhelming and not AT ALL what I had in mind. Then I decided…why not make it a series? The more I thought about it — it would lend to a better discussion if I just give you one at a time. I’m kind of glad my original idea didn’t work out because I’m liking this better. Check the end of the post for previous Before & After’s.


 I’d finish a book and the extent of my thought was “that was good” or “ehh I didn’t really like it.” Unless I had to think critically about it for school I didn’t really explore all the reasons why I liked or didn’t like it.


Obviously now as a blogger I DO think about why or why not I enjoyed a book. Blogging has challenged me to be able to explain the things I liked and didn’t like when someone asks rather just than saying “it was good” or something like that. I’m much more  likely to talk more in depth about all the reasons I like a book though like I admitted here I’m not the most scholarly or whatnot in my reviews. Overall I think this is a positive thing to keep thinking critically and be able to explain myself BUT I will admit that there are some days where I miss the days of NOT having to explain why or why not I liked a book. I just want to either like it or not. lol. But that’s mostly on the days when I feel lazy or when a book maybe just doesn’t seem to lend itself to be talked about MORE.



Let’s Talk:

If you are a blogger — Did you always think critically about books before you were a blogger or would you kind of just have a simple that was good or that wasn’t good mentality? Do you sometimes miss the days when you didn’t think about every book to death?  If you aren’t a blogger — Do you feel like you think critically about what you are reading or does it hover around “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.” ? For everyone — Curious if there are certain genres or types of book that are a challenge to think MORE about outside of “it was good’ etc. I think for me sometimes it is those lighter, fluffy reads because I LOVED them but sometimes I can’t think past WHY except that they were fun and enjoyable.

Previous Before & After’s:

The Time In Between Two Books – 2/27
Being Up On New Releases — 3/6
Book Real Estate — 3/15
Re-reading — 3/20
Meeting Authors + Myths About Them — 3/27
The Number of Books Read Per Year — 4/5
Recommending Books — 4/10
Chunky Books —   4/17

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Yep perfectly there with you. Before, I just put the book away and that was that.. now when I want to write a review I need to think about what I really liked and what I didn’t… I love this change to be honest 🙂

  2. Interesting questions, which I struggled with a bit before I realized what the issue was: It’s tricky for me to separate my “blogger” identity – which I’ve had for only a few years – from my “writer” identity, which I’ve had all my life. Writers, it seem to me, have a built-in inclination to approach books critically, and I feel like I’ve always done that. I have grown more critical as a reader over the course of my life, but I don’t really think that has anything to do with blogging. I’m also much more critical of non-fiction than I am of fiction, where I feel obliged to give the author more benefit of the doubt, if that makes any sense.

  3. I know you’re going to hate me for this and I will duck, but I enjoy that you’re not overly scholarly in your reviews and that sounds horrible. But your reviews make me feel like we’re chatting about books. There are certain reviews that are so scholarly I can’t follow their blogs because I feel like they’re talking down to me and I don’t feel that way with you. To talk to me like a friend and you don’t even know me! So yes *coughs and ducks*

    As a blogger it is hard for me to not just go PLEASE DON’T READ THIS and then not say why. But reading a lot of bloggers and discussing books even more than before has helped me become better at saying “this stinks imo because”

  4. I have just started blogging and I can already see myself doing this a little more. Now when I read I am definitely actively thinking about what aspects I will review, what quotes I will add, and why I have certain feelings about the book. I definitely agree that lighter and easier reads are more difficult to think critically about because that is not what the author intended for them to be! But they are some of my favourites, because sometimes you just need to clear your head and not have to think so much. Loving this series so far, and love everything about your blog!

  5. I totally agree. Before I started blogging I never used to think any further than “Oh that was really good” or “meh, didn’t care for it” unless it was required of me for school. But now I think more about WHY I liked it or WHY I didn’t. And to be honest, because I’m doing it for ME now I really don’t mind it! It’s fun! Although yes, sometimes I do miss just being able to read it, love it or hate it, and then move on without further thought. As for genres that require more thought, I’m with you on the light and fluffy reads. Sometimes I really can’t place my finger on why I’ve loved a book like that so much!

  6. Jen (A Reading Daydreamer) says:

    I’m actually like you, Jamie! Before blogging, I kind of just read a book and then have it a thumbs up or thumbs down, and moved onto the next book. But after blogging, I’ve started to think about what I loved about a certain book, and what were its weak points. As for genres, I think I’m definitely more critical on the anti-contemporary (dystopian, high fantasy, paranormal) books simply because I wasn’t experienced in world-building before. Another fabulous post, Jamie! Keep up the great posts 🙂

  7. Totally agree – before my blog, I would either like or not like a book. Even when I loved a book, I never really tried to explain what it was about the book that I loved. Now, of course, I try to put all my book feelings into words for my reviews, which isn’t always easy!

  8. I’m basically the same as you here. I’ve noticed that I only resent having to explain my feelings for a book if I can’t really figure them out. There are some books that I just can’t decide how I feel about them or describe my feelings for. It’s a pest sometimes! lol

  9. I agree with you. I’m a blogger. I never used to think critically about a book unless I was reading it for school, and even then I kind of hated doing that. Weird, I know, because now I choose to do it all the time! And, yes, I do sometimes miss the days of just reading a book and simply liking or not liking it and not having to analyze and explain my reasonings. I sometimes struggle to put my thoughts into words, for certain books…so those are the times that I miss not having to. 🙂

  10. I was exactly like that back when I didn’t blog: books were either good or bad and that was it. Now I’m already thinking about the whys before I’m even done and looking more closely at things I wouldn’t have before. But I usually have trouble talking about those books that I fell in love with, there are just so many thoughts and feelings mixed up with them that I sometimes find it difficult to describe them.

  11. I’m there with you! Before I’d read a book and hand it onto my cousin or grandma depending on what the book was or I’d treasure it forever and read it over and over. Now I have a notepad and find myself overanalysing every single little thing. Sometimes that takes away from the overall enjoyment of the book, others it just makes me appreciate the awesome even more.

    There are times where I’ll pick up a book and I purposefully won’t write a review because words can’t quite capture my feelings (Graceling is a biggie!). My reviews are always a lot shorter though because I always go by a feeling instead of discussing the more critical areas…
    Great post as always, Jamie 😀

  12. I’ve been really working on how to express my thoughts about books– I want to say more about a book than “I loved it” or “all the feelings” because a book that makes me that emotional deserves a few more words!! I definitely think that I read more critically when blogging about a book, because I’ve got that pressure to explain my feelings and provide “evidence” from the book!

  13. I am pretty sure I always thought somewhat critically about a book…unless it was a very light read that turned out to be just for enjoyment. I think it’s because I always loved to *discuss* books. But yeah, sometimes I do miss the days of not *having* to explain why or why not.

  14. I’ve always been a critical reader, but blogging has taught me to look for things I never noticed before. I’m much more aware of whether there are non-white characters in a book and how those characters are treated. I also find myself getting weary of tropes faster because I’m reading more in the same genre.

  15. Wow this is a great idea. I never really thought about how my habits have change since I started blogging. I think I always thought critically, but having a blog forced me to better explain my reasoning. Rather that saying I didn’t connect with a character, for example, I now try to discover what it was about that character that I didn’t get. Overall, the main habit that blogging has changed is the way and order I read books in. Sometimes, I miss just reading whatever book I stumble upon. Now my books are scheduled like clockwork to coincide with publication dates or movie adaptations. All that said, I really can’t imagine not running a blog, and I feel it has greatly improved my reading and writing.

  16. Hmm…I guess I’ve always tried to think why I like a book. Not exactly in a scholarly manner but why it was good to me. Perhaps it was lit class that made me pull apart stories especially for fear of missing some important plot point. But I am not the exactly the most eloquent person, as such, sometimes I’m not able to fully express what I really feel or think of the book. So in the end when its its indescribable it does ends up being a “I like it or not” thing.

    I agree with the whole lighter, fluffy reads. They are harder to describe beyond “it’s good/bad”. I think its because they’re not trying to challenge any notions or say anything. They’re just for a reader’s enjoyment.

  17. (I still think it’s eerie how I was thinking about mentioning this to you, and you actually posted about it already for this series. Eerie, but cool.)

    I never really THOUGHT about my books before I turned into a blogger; I actually FELT them more than thought about them. I’d focus on how a book made me feel – good, bad, sad, mad, or nothing at all – and that would be my way of judging whether I liked a series, a book or an author. I never got too critical, or thought too much about it, though I’d make note of what I preferred and what I didn’t.

    Nowadays, I’m actually still much the same when it comes to reading. I do think a bit when I’m writing my reviews (which never happens right after I’m done reading a book), but my initial reaction is always just based on feeling (which explains most of my GR ratings). I like feeling the book, and judging it based on that feeling. It’s always worked for me, and I think it always will. I do get more detailed and critical when I’m writing reviews though.

    I think I agree with you – chick lit, or other fluffier novels are harder for me to think about critically. Oh, and romances! It’s hard to think about WHY I enjoyed it or related to it, or to analyze it at all.

  18. I feel the same way! I never really thought in depth about why I did or didn’t like a book, except with dystopian because I loved trying to figure the themes. NOW I love it! I love trying to pinpoint why I loved something and then describing exactly what it was about the book that I loved. Blogging has really helped me to dig deep and examine why I love certain books and why I don’t.

  19. I think I started blogging because I was always thinking about why I liked a book and why I didn’t and even friends who read the same books didn’t want to discuss it past “like/dislike” in much detail. Through blogging I found not only a way to record and formulate my own thoughts, but have a conversation about books with other readers as well.

  20. Excellent topic this time, Jamie! (I actually did a post on this one a while back.)

    Before I was a blogger, I was totally uncritical of books. It’s kind of funny, because when I first joined Goodreads, all my ratings were in the middle, as 2 or 3 stars. It wasn’t until I started writing reviews that I had to think critically about what I was reading, and think up ways to explain it. I also notice now that, even while I’m still reading, I’m always aware of the pros/cons of a book. That reviewer’s mindset, I think, will be with me forever, even if I ever decide to stop blogging and writing reviews.

  21. When I was in college and an English major I always had to think critically when reading a book for class, but I didn’t do that when reading for fun. Now after I started blogging I always try to think more critically so I can write a good review. And don’t worry, my reviews aren’t all scholarly either. Sometimes I feel like my reviews are sub-par but, as long as I’m spreading the word about books to the best of my ability, I’m okay with that.

    Love these posts!

  22. This definitely applies to me as well. Before I became a book blogger I definitely read some books that blew me away and stayed with me for a long time after I finished it, but with a lot of books I just thought “wow that was great” or “I didn’t like it that much” and that was pretty much it. Now that I’m a book blogger I really try to think about what I liked and disliked about a book, and how I can best make that come across in any review I write.

  23. I definitely thought about books before I blogged, but I don’t know that I went AS in depth. I’ve talked about this with a few other blogger friends, but blogging has really made me a sharper and clearer writer, and has brought me to the point where I am more readily able to critique books. I’m still not really scholarly either – we’ve talked about that – but I am better at identifying WHAT I disliked about books instead of just that blanket “I didn’t care for it.”

    Sometimes I don’t want to go in depth either though! Sometimes I just want to write “look, yo, this one didn’t do it for me” and that be my review. Buuuuuuuut that might not be enough. lol.

  24. I know what you mean….I really want to read a book just to read it….

  25. I’ve definitely started to see the difference now that I”ve taken on blogging again. Before, I would just read a book and write something like, ‘I really liked this book.’ or ‘This book was kind of boring.’ in the review section on Goodreads. Now I try to analyze the book a bit more, write my own summary, and give better reasons why I might have liked it or not. Since I’m still kind of new to it, and haven’t honed my reviewing skills, I tend to give a little back story as well, including why I chose to read the book or how I thought it was going to affect me opposed to how it actually did affect me. Little things like that.

  26. It’s really interesting because now that I’ve been book blogging for almost a year, I’m finding it hard to be more objective when I read. I think it’s just become more natural for me to look at a story and the characters with a more critical eye. Sometimes I do miss the days where I could just read for the enjoyment of it and then move on with my life. I have a tendency to over-analyze and it, on occasion, drives me crazy!

  27. Awesome post! I hadn’t thought about this until you wrote, but this is definitely me. I used to finish a book, say it was good, great, sucky, and then move on. Now I really do analyze a book to death sometimes. And I do kind of miss the days when I did not have to take notes as I read.

  28. Honestly, the three biggest genres I read are historical fiction, contemporary, and fantasy which all kind of require a little bit of thought. Historical fiction, though, was a big one because I’m such a big history nerd. I always wanted to know how and why some war occurred and what not. With historical fiction, many of the fact are real and the majority of the historical fiction I grew up reading were the Dear America books, all of which are journals written by girls living in historical times. I’ve always thought a lot about many of the books I read as a child. I can tell you how The Red Fern Grows made me feel or how The Giver changed the way I feel. To this day, both of those books still have an affect on me.

    Rather than blogging, I have to give fault to my AP english class of this year. The class is mostly fiction literature where we read a book and discussed it. We’ve torn up every book we’ve read. Our mantra was “something is ALWAYS a metaphor for something else.” I’ve come to over analyze tv commercials or the plot for a movie. Along those same lines, I’ve come to realize what I do and don’t like in books. My reviews have become better because I have a more defined taste and I’m able to express my thoughts clearly.

    I guess this is why I read “fluffy” books because more often than not, they simply release some stress or make me feel better about something. I honesty don’t over analyze those kinds of books.

  29. I’m with you. Before blogging it was either liked it, didn’t like it or it was ok. Even now sometimes I wish I could just write a review saying “loved it, you should read it!”. lol. There are also times I have a hard time putting into words why I loved a book so much. I was trying to write my review of Sweet Peril last night and while I loved it it was hard to say why. It was just an overall feeling of satisfaction after finishing the book.

  30. Right along with you! I’ve always been a reading freak, but I don’t have a lot of reading freak friends. So when I finished a book, I would think to myself how awesome it was, but not what made it so awesome or maybe not so awesome. Now that I have a blog, I’m always hyper aware of what’s happening in the book and cataloging my thoughts. Writing for my blog about books has also helped me sell real-life friends on books easier. Before, when they asked for recommendations, I’d tell them a book and say “yeah it was pretty good.” Now I’m like “YOU MUST GET THIS ONE BECAUSE BLAH BLAH BLAH” and actually sound like I really enjoyed the book, if that makes sense 🙂


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