Reading Other Book Reviews: A Matter Of Opinion

Before you read a book, do you head over to Goodreads and read a few reviews? When you’re about to make your decision on a rating, do you check out the ratings on Goodreads first?

If you’re debating on whether or not you want to buy a book, do you check if the average rating is five stars or two?

If you do, then… Stop.

Opinion Matters: Reading Other Book Reviews

I’m not here to tell you what you can and can’t do, but I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to read reviews before reading the book yourself.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check out the ratings and such beforehand, but I do try to shy away from reading the actual reviews.

Reviews are meant to help the author. The more positive reviews, the higher up on the pedestal the book goes. The more people will likely buy the book if they see it has 5,000 ratings, especially 5,000 5-star ratings. If it remotely seems interesting to them and they see it has a decent following, they’ll pick up the book.

Still, I’ll admit that there have been times when a book has seemed interesting to me and then I look at the ratings and see it didn’t do that great. Instead of getting the book, I’ll put it on my wishlist for later (and often times forget about it) or just put it back on the shelf.

This isn’t really a fair thing to do.

I know I’ve stressed this enough in my other book reviewing posts, but… everyone interprets the story differently. We all have different opinions on what we like and don’t like, what we thought worked well in the book and what we thought didn’t work.

If you pick up a mystery novel and there are five people who didn’t care for it, you may still enjoy the book simply because mystery is your favorite genre.

It’s not fair to put a book back on the shelf simply because a few people thought the main character was a bit dry.

You might as well judge a book by its cover if you’re going to base your bookshelf on other peoples thoughts.

But let’s be honest here; we all judge books by their covers. But that’s another story for another day.

Do you typically read reviews before buying a book? Do you shy away from them? Let me know in the comments below!

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24 thoughts on “Reading Other Book Reviews: A Matter Of Opinion

  1. I don’t like reading reviews unless it’s about a book I’ve already read and love. Just cos I want to come to the book as fresh as possible. But I like scouting reviews to find books to read and might skim read if a book looks interesting just to find out the genre and if it’s something I’d want to read.

  2. I read a sampling of positive and critical reviews for any product I purchase. It helps me weed through multiple choices and make a selection I’m more likely to enjoy. Product reviews are a matter of opinion, but they can also yield important information. For example, the author may want to charge you 5.99 for an ebook without having written an ending for it. He’s not going to advertise that fact. To find out, you may need to read some reviews. I disagree with the idea that reviews are only really to help the writer. Reviews, when several are read, can give a potential buyer the information they need to make better purchasing decisions.

    • Some are definitely helpful, I agree. And there have been plenty of times I’ve looked at reviews before buying a book . Though I still try to steer clear because I was to keep an open mind and be surprised (even if it’s a bad way). 🙂

  3. I usually do read the reviews before buying a book. I mostly ignore the overall rating, for the same reason you say: different people like different things. But I do read *what* other people said they liked and didn’t like, and that gives me a better idea about my chances of liking it. For instance, if the 5-star ratings say it’s clever and innovative and the low-star ratings mostly say they “didn’t get it”, then I’ll probably buy the book. Same if the 5-star ratings rave about the writing being beautiful and immersive and the low-star ratings say it’s boring and too long (especially if the low rating reviews involve a lot of spelling and grammar errors). But if the 5-star ratings mostly say it’s an action-packed thriller that they couldn’t put down and the low-star ratings complain that the female characters were one-dimensional stereotypes and the stilted dialogue is straight out of a 70s porn movie, then I don’t care if it scores 4.9/5.0, I’m not buying it!

      • I can see that, but I think I tend to veer too much in the opposite direction, if anything. If I have a good vibe about a book and a bunch of snarky strangers tell me they didn’t like it, I can sometimes be even more determined to try to like it.

  4. Interesting take on this topic. I approach reading much like I do movies or television programs. If I enjoy it, that’s good enough for me. As for reviews that I post on my blog, as an author that gets reviewed, I only want to post positive things about my fellow author/bloggers. I’ve just started reading some of the books that my peers have written and there are some talented people out there. For books by indie authors, if I come across a book that I don’t enjoy, I don’t post a review. I’m not a professional reviewer, so I don’t morally struggle with this.

  5. This is such a good point. I still check out reviews just so I can see which aspects people thought were lacking and which aspects they thought were done well. I know that often when people think the plot was slow or not engaging I tend to not pick up on it, but when it’s character development stuff that’s lacking I really can’t enjoy the book.

    • The characters are everything, I agree. But yeah, I get curious to see what other people thought about it as well. It’s interesting to see what you have in common with other readers and what you don’t.

  6. I have to admit a read a sample of the highest and lowest rating reviews before I do mine – but I always know what I’m going to say beforehand, even if it runs contrary to the majority of the reviews. Sometimes I find something I’ve missed… but it doesn’t change my opinion.

    • I’ve done that a couple of times too. There’s sometimes I feel like everyone praises a book that I didn’t particularly care for (or vice versa) and then I feel like I missed something.

  7. Unless I’ve read the books, I try not to look at the reviews. I see the average rating because it’s right at the top on Goodreads, but I judge a book based on its synopsis in general. However, if that’s confusing or doesn’t give me enough insight into whether I want to read the book, I look at reviews of only my friends because I trust their opinion. If there aren’t any, I just make a split second decision. I’ve come across quite a few factually incorrect ones (by that I mean that the text has been interpreted logically incorrectly), which I read after a posting a review on a book I loved. So I don’t generally trust a stranger’s opinion because they can’t possibly reflect how I might feel after I’ve read the book.

    • I do that too. There are sometimes when I don’t understand the summary, I’ll look at what other people say. But, most often than not, if the summary confuses me, I just put the book back on the shelf. If I can’t understand the synopsis, I don’t think I’d get the book itself.

Let me know your thoughts!

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