R is for Reviews

Now if you're on Goodreads, chances are, you probably read book reviews.

So my question for the day is:

Reviews--how much weight do you give them?

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I always find it interesting (and sometimes, a bit fascinating) to read reviews that are totally in the opposite ends of the spectrum. On one end, you have a reader gushing about how AWESOME this particular book is, and everyone should read it and love it!!!! (Yes, excessive exclamation marks are used extravagantly to showcase the love because mere words alone are not enough.) And then there's the snarky, this-is-a-[Twilight]-ripoff review that'll make you wish your book, if it ever gets published, will be spared from this reviewer's eyes forever and ever.

I don't do a lot of book reviews anymore. Opinions will always be subjective, and everyone's entitled to their own.

Do reviews affect your opinion of a book before you even have a chance to read it? Or do you avoid reading reviews until you're done with the book? 


Cristina said...

I like to read reviews AFTER I read a book... once I form my own opinion I like to read the reviews that don't agree with my thoughts ;)

Krista McLaughlin said...

I don't always put too much into reviews because people like to complain. One little thing might have been off in the book and they didn't like it. They could give a bad review of a book. Even other objects. I bought an alarm clock that fits my ipod and I've been looking for a while. This one had the features that I wanted and I bought, ignoring the people that were nit-picky about it. I like it. :)

The Red Angel said...

I try not to read reviews before I read the book myself because they just create too much bias for me to read without presumptions. I do like to check out the reviews AFTER I read the book though, just because I'm curious about what others thought of the book. :) Same with movies!

~Wendy Lu

The Red Angel Blog

Chris Fries said...

Yes -- what Red Angel Wendy said.

When I review another writer's work, whether on a one-to-one basis, on-line, or for any reason, I always try to make it considerate and constructive, just like I would want to hear: Mention things I liked, suggest in a positive way things that I thought might work better another way, and in general, try to be supportive even if I didn't care for the work.

There's nothing to be gained by being crappy and negative....

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

I don't usually read the reviews, truthfully. Unless it's from my friends on Goodreads, then I read them, because I like to know what they think. My favorite thing is when they hated the book, and I loved the book because then we get to have a really geeky conversation :)

Kittie Howard said...

Reviews have zero effect on me.

A.M.Supinger said...

The only time those split reviews don't amuse the hell outta me is when I am torn about buying a book. The rest of the time, I just read 'em for kicks and giggles.

Stephanie said...

It depends. I'll read "professional" reviews, i.e. review blogs and the like, because they usually provide a more balanced assessment of the book. In the sense of "If you like _____, you'll enjoy this book, but if _____ bothers you, proceed with caution."

On places like Amazon, the negative reviews often come off as snarky, and sometimes the positives make you wonder if they're written by the author's friends and family. I got really frustrated when one of my favorite authors, Patricia Briggs, published a graphic novel. People tore into it, and said horrible things. Why? Because they thought it was a "real" novel, and felt they had been tricked into ordering it.

Jennifer Lane said...

Isn't that wild when a book gets a lot of one star and five star ratings? To each her own, I guess. I do read reviews to help determine if it's my kind of book, all the while realizing opinions can really vary. I have to admit that I'm very excited to read a positive review of my novels. I can learn a lot as a writer from a well-written review.

Jemi Fraser said...

I rarely read reviews of books. I've done some reviews of books I've really enjoyed, but I'd never review a book I didn't like. It's just not my thing - no need to spoil someone's day talking about it!

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

It's funny. I like writing reviews, more about plays than books, but rarely read them before I dive in. I guess I trust my own opinion and intuition. I do ask around, though, of friends and take their advice if they suggest a book, movie, or event.

Play off the Page

Stephsco said...

I like to read a mix of positive reviews and lower rated reviews. Some reviews are fairly useless - either too extreme or not detailed enough on why a book does or doesn't work. I think it's beneficial to write an honest review.

Krystle said...

Is it sad to say I read negative reviews on books to learn what irritates readers? I don't use them so much as a purchasing decision as I do a learning tool. It's true: Some reviews are nothing but snark, and aren't really very helpful. They don't inform writers or readers. But there are a lot of intelligent, well written negative reviews that hold a lot of wisdom. Those are gold, especially if multiple people comment on the same thing. Then you know there might be something behind their comments. As far as using it as a determining purchase factor, if it splits the board, I'll still take a chance on it. Some of my favorite books have a surprising number of negative reviews. But if the large majority of reviews are negative, then I'll probably take a pass, especially if it's something I'm "on the fence" about to begin with.

Anonymous said...

I always avoid reading reviews until I have read a book. I like to make my own mind up and I know that certain things will stick in my mind from the reviews and affect how I read the book.

I must admit that I like reading book reviews because I find it really interesting to see how different people feel about various books.

E.B. Black said...

I read reviews when I'm on the fence about whether I should buy this book or not. It's not reviews that make the book, the cover and the blurb on the back of the book must catch my attention first before I pay any attention to the reviews. Also, if enough of my friends recommend the book, I won't even bother with the reviews. Recommendations are a powerful tool. Book clubs are as well. I've read a lot of awesome books I'd never otherwise have picked up just because other people told me it would be a good idea.

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