Discussion: Review Summaries

In the past, I have typically included Goodreads or Amazon book summaries on my posts. I started doing this because most of the other blogs I read included them. I do like reading jacket copy, but I also tend to write some of my own summary into reviews. I wonder if this ends up being redundant. Also, I’m curious whether people would prefer to just look these up on their own if they want more information, or they find it helpful to have somebody else search it out for them.

Do you like summaries from other sources or would you rather skip right to the review?


14 Responses to "Discussion: Review Summaries"

  • I have always attached a summary from goodreads at the beginning of my reviews. I’ve wondered too if it’s redundant, but I think it sets a good premise for what I’m going to write. Sometimes I don’t always touch on every aspect in the book, so it’s nice to have the summary there for readers to get an over all view.

    1 Ginger @ GReads! said this (November 30, 2010 at 8:40 AM)

  • I write my own summaries, for two reasons. In other blogs I read where they include it, chances are I have already read the GR or Amazon summary somewhere else and so I just skip it. The other reason is that I sometimes don’t like the summary GR or Amazon gives, even if it’s the jacket one. Often something is missing or it gives away a bit more than I’m willing to give away, or I think it focuses on the wrong aspects of the book. A third reason I’ve heard other bloggers give is that publishers want bloggers to write their own summaries, their reasoning being that if we can write a review we can write a summary. I honestly would rather read a summary written by the blogger than the publisher, if only for a fresh take on the book.

    2 Tahleen said this (November 30, 2010 at 8:45 AM)

  • I attach the Amazon summary. It took me awhile to work out that system, but I found over time that it helps me stick to the review instead of writing more of a summary/book report. But there is definitely no right or wrong here!

    3 Anna said this (November 30, 2010 at 8:45 AM)

  • You know, I’ve always put it up as a courtesy, but I tend to not read them. If it’s a book I don’t know about, then yes, I’ll skim the summary. I’m a pretty visual person and a self-proclaimed cover whore, so I’m usually intrigued if the cover is pretty…prior to even reading the summary. I still think it’s nice to have a summary easily accessible, because SOMEONE’S gonna read it, ya know?

    4 Jen said this (November 30, 2010 at 8:47 AM)

  • I think that to some extent the quality of the summary dictates how much summarizing I do. Some GR or Amazon summaries make me think I really couldn’t say it any better myself, and others are pretty awful and make me want to fill in lots of gaps. Other times, even if the summaries are fine, I’m just excited about the book and really want to talk about what happened, so I add my own. I do try to avoid sounding book reporty.

    I’m also like Jen in that I don’t tend to read other summaries unless I don’t know anything about the book, and then I appreciate having the extra summary there.

    Tahleen, that’s interesting that you mention that pubs prefer blogger summaries. I hadn’t heard that before, but it is something I have wondered about, too.

    5 Melanie said this (November 30, 2010 at 9:09 AM)

  • I’m very interested in these comments. Because I’m getting a post ready that discussed this very question. I don’t include summaries — if a summary is posted I usually read just the first sentence or two, if I don’t know anything about the book. I really feel that summeries sometimes include way to much information and act as spoilers.

    6 Annette said this (November 30, 2010 at 10:43 AM)

  • I’ll keep an eye out for your post!

    I think part of the problem is that people have vastly different spoiler tolerances. As long as you don’t tell me who died, I’m good. I have friends who get upset if you tell them what town something takes place in before they read it; they want to discover every single thing themselves. It makes it hard for someone like me to know just how much is okay. (This could easily be a discussion all on its own!)

    7 Melanie said this (November 30, 2010 at 11:54 AM)

  • This is my librarian side, the one who was trained to do book reviews by VOYA, but I don’t look to book blogs for summaries of books. I do my own brief summary and then try to focus on the review part. The bottom line for me as a librarian was always “Do I spend my little budget on this book or not?”. I’m not working anymore, but I guess I still have the same bottom line only with “time” instead of budget. 😉 I don’t want to read a book review and feel like I’ve read the book.

    I think I’m also the only blogger in the world who doesn’t use Good Reads. I don’t need another time suck! (said while making dinner, supervising 3 kids and commenting on blogs.)

    8 jen said this (November 30, 2010 at 5:39 PM)

  • “I don’t want to read a book review and feel like I’ve read the book.” This is such an interesting comment, and one that I’m going to have to ponder some more.

    I was very anti-Goodreads for the same reason. I kept thinking gah, one more social media network that I don’t have time for, really? I finally got an account because there are so many giveaways on it, and I’m using it a little bit to cross-post reviews, but I don’t use it extensively at this point. I feel like I have enough on my plate.

    9 Melanie said this (November 30, 2010 at 5:55 PM)

  • write your own or do not use them at all. Using someone else’s content is bad for SEO.

    10 Justin Goodman said this (November 30, 2010 at 9:26 PM)

  • I write my own. It gives me a chance to be slightly witty, or excited, etc. Plus, as Tahleen said, chances are, I’ve already read the summary on amazon so I just skip it. And here’s the thing, when I’m going through google reader at night I skip the posts with things I’ve already read (the publisher summary). This is because I don’t have time to scroll through all that for the meat of the post.

    Plus my huge pet peeve is when people post the publisher summary for a book that is later in a series, and the summary has a huge spoiler for previous books in it. And the blogger is so lazy they can’t be bothered to put a spoiler warning on. (the big one was Vampire Academy). I mean, omg if you are going to copy/paste a summary the least you can do is read the summary first.

    11 April (Books&Wine) said this (December 1, 2010 at 10:32 AM)

  • April, that is such an excellent point about series’ summaries. I don’t tend to think about spoilers in terms of the whole story arc, but I should. Especially now that I know so many people who still haven’t read major series like Harry Potter.

    I think I’m leaning toward eliminating outside summaries from my posts. It’s a little scary, though. I think they’re like a crutch for me to back up what I’m saying. My own insecurity is probably not a great reason to keep using them, though.

    12 Melanie said this (December 1, 2010 at 12:33 PM)

  • Get rid of them, I have been almost begging you to from the beginning. It is time for them to go.

    13 Justin Goodman said this (December 1, 2010 at 8:32 PM)

  • Yeah, I know how you feel about them. But there’s this biological thing that makes your opinion slightly less significant than others 😉

    I’m going to get rid of them, though. I’ll at least try it out without them for a bit and see how it goes.

    14 Melanie said this (December 1, 2010 at 8:45 PM)