My reviewing system

When I began reviewing books, films, TV series, and rock albums in the spring of 2019, I had only a vague idea of how to review, how to organize, how to present. I just launched in without expertise and learned by doing. Nearly two years later, Read Listen Watch ticks along and it’s such a bounteous pleasure! For my own benefit, let me summarize what I do.

Sourcing culture presents its own challenges. I do best with books. By subscribing to many publisher and reviewer and newspaper newsletters, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages, I’m awash with choices. Movies/TV seasons involves keeping an eye on the streamers’/channels’ announcements and watching reviewers/Tweeters for in-cinema films. Trying to keep track of music is more difficult. From this chaotic swamp of new cultural offerings, I catalogue the interesting ones using the brilliant app Trello. I purchase/rent/borrow a fraction of this thicket and then … viola! … I have my slate of “stuff” to “consume.” Mostly I aim for stuff yet to be released or just released or recently released, with a small subset going back at most a year. I set up review “shells’ on the Read Listen Watch website and when I’ve finished reading, watching, or listening, I can rapidly shove out a review.

I aim to write 100 to 200+ words. Everything is accorded a rating out of 10. I strive to put out a review every two days and to structure them in the ratio of 3:1:1 books:movies:albums. Advance scheduling of reviews eases the stress on me, although pressure always remains. Reviews go out on the website and are shared to the Facebook page, and soon afterwards, I’ll share to a Twitter feed. Every half year I put out three “Top 10” recommendation lists.

The joys are myriad. I revel in sourcing “stuff.” Naturally, the greatest pleasure comes from reading or watching or listening. Writing reviews often occurs first in my head, and then actually putting pen to paper can seem like a chore. To minimize the sense of being in a factory, I aim to pump out each review by the end of the day after I finished consuming it, and I keep track of which days I’ve keep a clean review slate. That’s a pleasure in itself. And casting my eye back over some 200 reviews each year … well, how could anything be more satisfying!

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