Why I Don’t Like Critically Analysing A Book

When I first joined Goodreads I absolutely loved reviewing books. Oh you want my unfiltered opinion on how much this book meant to me? I will provide you with a one page long list of everything amazing full with exclamation marks and all caps letters!

But then I started to realise that reviews needed a certain structure. I couldn’t just say I LOVE IT SO YOU SHOULD READ IT and expect that to stand as a review. And that’s fine. My reviews evolved into me talking about the characters and the plot-line and diversity and I’m currently extremely pleased with my structure of book reviews on my blog. I also came across tons of super well-written reviews with in-depth discussion of themes and metaphors. And I truly commend people who dive so deep into a book and take out the time to do that.

But what I hate is when people expect that from me.

 

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And when I mean me I’m talking about avid bookworms, especially English or Literature majors.

As a prospective English major people expect certain things from me, most of which are stereotypical. No I don’t sprout poetry, in fact I don’t even like poetry. No, I don’t like Paradise Lost, I was half-asleep when I tried to read it and no I certainly haven’t read all the classics.

But what’s worse is when I’m expected to hold long and deep discussions about the books I read. People automatically assume that I have well-developed critical thought and analyses of a book.

Let’s get one thing straight, I despise having to critically analyse every single text I read.

I get to do exactly that in all of my English classes. Is it fun? Sometimes. Do I want to do it with every book I come across? Hell no.

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Critical analysis is not an easy thing and neither does it come naturally to me. I’m not the kind of readers who bookmarks important lines and goes over paragraphs to extract their complete essence. I’m the reader who gets engrossed with the characters and stories and gets lost in the world-building to the point. I keep forgetting the little details, let alone remembering to make connections between things that were mentioned fifty pages apart. As a reader, I’m a mess. I read to enjoy myself, to discover something new.

And I never analyse a book outside of class because for me, that’s a burden.

Once in high-school I was supposed to go for a literary contest and my friend and I had chosen a well-written thriller to dissect and speak about. I loved that book. It was my first book by Linwood Barclay and I was so excited to talk about it. But by the time we were done with our essay I was disappointed. The book I was in love with two days ago felt sub-par at best. I didn’t see the spark anymore. There was nothing hugely problematic about the book but it just wasn’t as well-written or satisfying as I had originally thought.

Was it possible that I had been too excited? Maybe. But one thing I learnt that day was that writing in-depth analysis for books or reading them with an eye to criticize ruins the experience for me.

There will always be some exceptions to that rule but it helps me separate literature class from reading for fun. My first semester was heavy on required readings and I felt so drained that the mere thought of picking up even a YA contemporary novel sounded like a chore.

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Reading is a hobby that I treasure and the fact that it’s not compulsory fro me to present a thesis about the books I read in my own time is largely why I enjoy reading. This is part of the reason why I don’t look forward to writing incredibly long book reviews or any reviews for the matter of fact. Literature can be harsh. English classes and professors don’t want us to read just to pass time and I’m aware that by the time I get my degree many books will be ruined for me. And this might not be the case for many others. You do you, read and review books however you want to.

But I have a right to read for pleasure and not obsess over what a book represents and I will defend that right, even in the snob circles of the bookish community.

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Do you like analyzing books?

How do you like to review books? Or do you just not write reviews?

What do you do if reading starts to feel like a chore?

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27 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Like Critically Analysing A Book

  1. Great post! I totally get what you mean about feeling pressured to write really deep, analytical reviews. I was also an English Lit major, so I feel you! I don’t want to pick apart everything I read, and on the occasions where I have done more detailed reviews I get to the end and realise that my initial feelings have been dampend by looking at the book critically.

    Do you ever find that critically analysing books you read at university actually makes you like them more? This happened to me with a few required reads, where I finished them feeling indifferent but after class I thought ‘Wow, actually, this is really good!’ It was a rare occurence but I loved when that happened!

    I hope your final classes are going well, if you haven’t finished already!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yeah, exactly I hate when that happens.

      The weird thing that happens in my english classes is sometimes I hate reading a book and the way it is written but when we discuss it I start loving it? Basically I love my class discussions but not the actual book ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Charvi… completely agree with you. Iโ€™m obviously not an English major, so my critical analysis skills are already pretty low, so I canโ€™t go in-depth into themes all the time. A couple of books are so thematically strong that I donโ€™t avoid discussing them, but in most others cases, I too just wanna get lost in the world and enjoy the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sahi!
      Oh yes I get what you mean by thematically strong books. The Subtweet was like that and even though I write a short Goodreads review I wrote heavily about the themes but that was enjoyable because I didn’t have to dig deep for them ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can relate on a totally different level. As someone who’s been writing for a living, what was once a hobby has now turned into a routine of following company guidelines, adhering to house styles, and a whole lot of admin work.

    Sometimes I just want to write, dammit.

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing, Charvi!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes that idea terrifies me. I experienced it briefly with academic writing. It sucks how reading and writing can become chores thanks to the education system. It’s probably why a lot of people don’t read or write for fun ๐Ÿ™„

      Thank you, glad to share ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Like

  4. When it comes to analyzing a book, I prefer to analyze the characters, not analyze any overarching themes that contemplate the futility of life or anything like that. I’m not too big on picking up things like that lol.

    I can’t say I relate with having people expect me to have an analysis ready of every book I have read, but I can see how that would be super daunting. That’s the equivalent of people expecting film majors to have an in depth analysis of every movie they’ve watched. It’s not like books and movies and other media are supposed to be consumed for, you know, entertainment or anything like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh I totally agree! It’s much more fun to dig into the characters and their lives.

      Oh yes, that’s a bang on equivalent. It’s annoying, all these expectations from people majoring in arts stuff. Haha yes, we like entertainment too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was an English major, but I specialized in children’s literature so my experience was quite different. But I completely relate to not wanting to analyze literature on your blog. I actually didn’t start book blogging until I graduated. Now, as a children’s librarian, I sometimes struggle to find a balance between reviewing a book from the perspective of my personal enjoyment vs. professionally evaluating a book as a written work for children. For me, blogging is primarily an outlet to express and share my reading experiences. And that’s okay! I definitely support keeping reading and reviewing as separate from other parts of your life, if that’s what makes it an enjoyable hobby for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow, yeah that sounds quite different and interesting as well. Exactly, blogging gives me a channel for all my bookish emotions as well ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you for your comment, I’m glad that you could relate!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yassss to everything in this post! One of the lesser known reasons for why I stopped posting reviews, is because I do not analyse. In fact I can hardly remember names of characters these days and I read to enjoy, I don’t always pay close attention to the details and I simply do not feel like my reviews really contributed much. Also the larger part is I hate writing reviews, I’d rather figure out a different way to boost a book on my blog then spend hours sobbing and getting frustrated over writing a review.

    Analysing books…I mean I can analyse a book pretty well, like if I have the quotes and I’ve read it, I was decent at it in English back in school. Did I enjoy it? No. But I was good at it where others struggled I was alright thankfully, but generally speaking I read to escape, I tried the whole taking notes and reviewing thing. It caused me numerous slumps, the joy of reading got sucked away from me so I just stopped.

    The people who can write in depth reviews are amazing and I applaud them just like I applaud those who critically analyse books, it’s just not for me.

    Like

  7. This!!! I’m usually loath to critically analyse unless it’s for english class, and doing stuff too in depth with books you enjoy for fun can kind of ruin your enjoyment/reading experience. I still post reviews, but mostly only for review copies; a lot of the time my reviews now focus on what I liked/didn’t like rather than say the writer’s skill/detail? I absolutely admire people who critically analyse in their reviews but I feel like it’s not for me in that I don’t have the time or energy and also that it would impede on my general enjoyment of the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. I too tend to focus on what I liked and what I don’t because honestly that’s what the writers really want to know. I’m so glad to know that this post resonated with you ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Totally agree with everything you said, Charvi! I too canโ€™t critically analyse every book and I find it irritating. Like you, even I donโ€™t remember minute details then how am I supposed to criticise it? I donโ€™t understand how people read with a โ€˜criticalโ€™ mindset. I would rather see if I am enjoying the story and the characters or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right?!
      I mean I really want to take notes when I read a book, especially since I want to be a writer but I just get so engrossed that it’s all bit an impossible task ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Okay this is what I do. I dont read every book I read. And when I do my reviews are just opinions of what I felt/thought during my reading. I am not trying critique at all.

    But when I critical I am hella critical, so basically I hold that for unpublished manuscripts only.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is such a fantastic post! I happen to love analyzing books and discussing the analysis with my friends, but I hate being forced to analyze something. It’s part of the reason that I didn’t want to major in English or Literature. Most of my family was shocked as they assumed I’d want to get a job in publishing. But for me, reading is something I do to enjoy, and I don’t want to treat it like a job.

    I think that’s part of why I dislike reviewing. I love discussing books, but breaking them down in a formalized manner frustrates me since I never manage to say what I want to correctly. Even if I’ve been analyzing a book the whole time I read it, I seem to have this inability to turn my thoughts into words on paper once I finish the book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!
      Oh I get that. There was a month or so when I started questioning whether I even wanted to have a degree in literature…

      I totally understand, it happens to me way too many times and I just wish my thoughts could just get transferred onto my screen in the form of a review ๐Ÿ˜›

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, exactly! Sometimes I put myself down for writing shorter reviews but then remind myself that they’re just as important as the long and analysed ones ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

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