Discussion

{DISCUSSION} When to read book reviews

When do you read book reviews?

As a proud member of the bookish community, I fully accept my completely normal, unhealthy, insatiable need for books. >.> At this exact moment, in fact, I have 50 books sitting in my living room waiting to be read. That’s just the books I haven’t read yet.

And as part of my love for books, I love to discuss them with other readers. I like to know what the other person/friend/hoarder thinks about the book. Did they like the main character? What’d they think of the plot twist? Were they as upset about the book flaws as I was? These are normal things for book lovers and one of the easiest ways to start these discussions is via book reviews.

Purposes of Book Reviews

Book reviews have such a wide versatility beyond being conversation starters for book lovers. First off, book reviews are also fantastic for the reviewer. The review is a way to formulate thoughts. We put down our opinions of the book in a way that we understand and can discuss later, while also sharing our opinions with others. It’s like an opportunity to rave about a book you love or rant about a book you hate.

Secondly, they’re a way for readers to find a new book they haven’t read yet. Readers can check out a book review and decide whether they think it’ll be good for them or not based on what the reviewer says. This is great if you’re well acquainted with the book reviewer because you’ll understand what they look for in books versus what you look for in books.

Book Review Bias

Unfortunately, one bad thing about book reviews (besides spoilers! 0.0!) is the bias you may gain about a book before you read it. It’s like judging a person you haven’t met based on what someone else says. Your brain leans in one direction.

If the review is good, you’ll be expecting a good book(and may be let down.) On the other hand, if the review is bad, you may never pick up what could’ve been a good book. The biggest problem with book reviews is that they’re opinionated and personal. What works for one reader may not hold true for another. So then, when do you read book reviews?

Timing

I know dozens of people who read book reviews for a book they’re interested in. They’re leaning towards it, but aren’t too sure yet. Or they really just want to know what’ll be good about the book to prepare themselves, but I can’t do that. It feels like peer pressure for me to love or hate a book. :/ I don’t want to know before I read a book that one character is annoying because then I’ll have a dislike for the character before I even start the book!

Honestly, some days I feel like one of the only people who reads book reviews after I’ve read a book. I refuse to read them before and definitely not during. Why? Because I believe I can be swayed by someone’s words. Not to mention, if I’m going to write a review on a book, I don’t want to have my opinion changed or tainted by another’s. I don’t want a predisposed idea of the book to scale my review one way or another. I want to look at the book as a fresh slate. Only in doing this can it truly be an ‘honest’ review.

But that’s just my opinion. What about you? When do you read book reviews and why? Let me know in the comments below! 


And check out my discussion from last week:
Loving the Villain


If you have the time, please fill out my 7-question book review survey!
I’d love your opinions to improve my book reviews for you!

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32 thoughts on “{DISCUSSION} When to read book reviews”

  1. I use book reviews in different ways. My TBR pile is enormous and my amazon wishlist is never-ending, so I don’t often actively search reviews for new books to add to my list. However, I read several magazines and literary journals and if a book that is reviewed catches my fancy, I’ll add it to my wishlist. If I see a book in the store that I want to buy and know nothing about, I will use a quick perusal of reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, to get a general idea as to whether or not it might be the book for me.

    After I’ve read a book, I often like to read reviews to see what other people thought, usually non-professional reviews from fellow readers. Engaging with other readers after I’ve finished a book, fulfills my need to discuss.

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  2. I agree with you 100% – I always prefer to read reviews of books I’ve already read. And although I do try to make my reviews friendly to those who haven’t read the book I’m much more interested in hearing the thoughts of people who have – whether they agree with me or not! Generating discussion (like you’re doing here :)) is the most rewarding part of having a blog. I also generally stay away from all but the barest of plot description because you can get that anywhere! Reviews on book blogs are much more interesting when they discuss reaction rather than plot.

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    1. Thank you for sharing! Glad you agree with me. ^.^ Actually, if you’re looking for a way to discuss books, a blogger friend and I are starting a brand new book discussion event called Calendar Girls. Not sure if it’s your thing, but you’re welcome to participate! Super low-key, but meant for generating discussions! ^.^

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  3. I have a strict NO SPOILER rule. When I write reviews, I try to summarise what the book is about but avoid spoilers at all costs. I myself hate spoilers and know I wouldnt want to read them in anyone else’s review.

    I also like reading reviews after Ive read a book to see what others thought of it. Sometimes we bond over the same things, other times we share thoughts that some of us might not have picked up on in the book.

    Great piece Melanie!!

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    1. I think it’s better to have a strict NO SPOILER policy than to run the risk of accidentally spoiling something or not marking it appropriately for the readers. It can be quite difficult for someone who’s read the book to know what is a spoiler and what isn’t.

      But sometimes it is nice to be able to discuss a book in full detail with someone else who has read the book. In that case, spoilers are kind of nice, because the things we really want to talk about tend to be the details, the spoilers. You know?

      Thank you for commenting! Hope you share your opinion on the discussions again! ^.^

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh trust me, you’re not the only one. I know many people on Goodreads who wait to read reviews until they finish it so they wouldn’t spoil themselves or it wouldn’t affect their opinion.

    As for me, what I like to do straight after finishing a book is to go on GR and read reviews for it.
    And go on booktube to see if there’s discussion video (but often there isn’t).
    But I do like to read reviews before reading a book. If I blog hop and see review, I’ll probably read it.
    The only time I avoid reading review is if it says it contains spoilers or if it’s for a book in the series I’m reading or plan to start soon, but i’s for other book then the first one in the series.

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    1. See, I know too many people who don’t mark their spoilers. As a result, you end up reading them before you even realize you’re reading them and that just bothers me to no end. Also, even if it’s just someone’s comments on the main character, I don’t want to read the review until I’ve read the book. I don’t want to be biased for or against the main character. It’s kind of like making friends in the real world. You don’t want someone being like: ‘oh! That person is mean! Don’t talk to them!’ That’s kind of how I see it. :p

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  5. I often skim the reviews on GoodReads first (especially from my friends of similar taste), then read them afterwards like you.

    There’s a chance I’m missing out on good books because my friends didn’t seem to like it, but thus far my most loved books have been the ones my friends loved too.

    I prefer reading the reviews in full afterwards for all the passionate discussions and heated debates. Also, to join support circles for the loved characters lost along the way to the epic finales!

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    1. It sounds like you base your book choices very heavily on your friends, which is great! It means you’ll always have someone to talk with about the book. ^.^ Sometimes that’s a struggle for us other people who pick books out on our own. Haha!

      Are you ever worried about catching spoiler snippets when you skim through your friends’ reviews on Goodreads?

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      1. I do! I actually found most of them through a group that reads speculative fiction together, and they all happen to be reviewers too! I highly recommend book clubs if you’re looking for someone to talk about a book with 🙂

        Goodreads has a feature to hide your entire review because of spoilers, and I find most people who put spoilers in their reviews will use this. Thus far I haven’t come across anything that really spoiled the book for me!

        Regardless of spoilers though, there is that bias to worry about that you mentioned. It’s hard not to come into a book with expectations! Those expectations can form regardless of reviews though, like if your favorite author released a new book.

        Have you ever tried to read a book without even reading the description?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah! I have thought many a times about joining a book club, but my biggest problem is the assigned book of the month. :/ I prefer to choose my own books even if no one else has read them yet. It must sound strange to you. :p

          And I use the spoiler tag on Goodreads all the time! I think it’s a fantastic addition to reviews and I wish it was something that WordPress had as well because there are so many book reviewers on here. But it is very specific to book reviewers. :/

          Huh. I never thought about pre-set bias based on authors. That’s a very interesting point you bring up, but I suppose that is true. We expect a good book from a good author.

          No, I have not tried reading a book without first looking at the description for two reasons: 1) I have too many books to read to pick up books at random and 2) I buy the books I read (is a book hoarder) and therefore don’t want to spend money on books I know nothing about. Does this make sense?

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          1. This club is nice because the assigned book of the month is never expected. There are also dozens of “Buddy Reads” in addition to the main book of the month. I think I’ve seen a few groups with this concept actually, that if you have a book you are reading, you can start a discussion topic for it, and other people can join in to chat with you about it.

            Yes, that makes total sense. But you should still try it sometime with your to-read pile! Just one day when you are feeling extra adventurous, close your eyes, pick a book at random, and just start reading!

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            1. Haha! That day could be a very long time from now. :p But perhaps I will look into it. ^.^ Thank you for the suggestion and thank you for joining the discussion! Always love to hear what other bloggers have to say on topics.

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  6. I agree with everything you just said! Honestly I prefer reading reviews after my own review. What’s difficult with reading a review before the book itself, it just gives almost everything away and it just affects how you would feel while reading. Like, let me form my own thoughts and opinion first! You’ll notice what the person wrote in their review while you’re reading and the experience wouldn’t be as genuine anymore. Sometimes I just ask a few friends if they liked a particular book or not, since we have the tendency to like the same books. 🙂
    Although sometimes I find myself scared to read a negative review of a book that I like cause it might make me question the way how I feel towards the book… sometimes it can be interesting to see both sides, why they hated it or liked it. 🙂
    I love this whole discussion thread, by the way. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm… That’s interesting. I have noticed when I read negative reviews, that I look back at my own rating and ponder it again. Though, sometimes that’s important. Sometimes, I feel like I get so enraptured in a book I can’t even see its flaws, you know? And while that may be bad for some people, I like being critical of books. Being critical of published books opens my eyes to what not to do in my books/wip/never-gonna-be-finished. :p

      Why thank you, Allie! I’m so happy you enjoyed this discussion and I hope to see you again for future discussions. ^.^ (I host them every Thursday!)

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    1. Tell me about it! I have so many books sitting in my living room that I have to read and just… haven’t found the time for. There are too many other, more important things to do with the limited amount of time in the day and I’m trying to let writing take precedence over reading at the moment. :/ One art form must suffer for the other and both must suffer for science. sigh

      The movie problem, though, is that I don’t know where to rent them anymore. Unless you get it right away from Redbox, I never get to see it because I don’t buy movies I haven’t already seen. :/

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha! I always look at the bins at Target and Best Buy. I just bought two more. :p But I don’t mind binge-buying movies like that because they’re a) cheap and b) never gonna go bad. ^.^

          Oh. My dad just gave me access to his Prime account and I’ve been wanting to go through it and look around, but alas, school, reading, and writing kind of eat what time I have in the day. :/ Oh well. One day. :p

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  7. Unless it’s a book I want to read, or have read (because I like knowing other people’s opinions), I’m not a fan of book reviews, to be honest. It’s nothing against anyone, but I just like making up my own opinion, you know?? But I do like reading book reviews of books I’ve already read, because then I can have a discussion about said book!

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    1. I totally feel you, Carla. I never read reviews before I’ve read the book because then I feel like my opinion will be biased based on the other person’s rating. That makes me feel bad and ends up leaving my own book reviews swayed. So, I am definitely in agreement about not reading book reviews before books. However, I will definitely read book reviews after I’ve read a book because I love seeing other people’s opinions and being able to compare and contrast with my own. ^.^

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  8. I’ve written a few book reviews and for me, I always try and limit spoilers. I try and tell them factualities about characters and the plot rather than opionions, give them a sense of what it’s about and then of course my own opinion about it. Where things do or don’t work maybe put it into context of why they might have written it that way.

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    1. Simon! Spoilers in book reviews is next week’s discussion! Grr! :p

      I think it’s definitely important to mix facts with opinions because that’s what book reviews are supposed to do: be your reaction to the book. Even so, I like knowing a little bit about the book beforehand. I hate reading reviews and just having no idea what the book was about or anything.

      From the sounds of it, though, you write your book reviews for writers. Because most readers don’t understand (in the same way) the mechanics of writing and why writers do what they do, etc, etc. Sometimes that’s why it’s best to leave book reviews at the face-value opinions of the reader instead of breaking down the book. I dunno. That’s why I wanted to have these discussions.

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