Discussion: To Read Or Not To Read Reviews

Hello, dear readers!

I’ll be the first one to tell you how surprised I was when so many people commented on my first ever discussion post last week. It really made my day and I learned a lot from the responses, so thank you all for being a part of that.

Of course, that also meant I decided to already write another one.

beauty and the beast facepalm GIF

This one comes from me alone, no help from the boyfriend here. But I am super curious about your answers, because this is what I probably feel most guilty about, as a book reviewer and a blogger within the bookish community? So I guess it’s both a discussion post and a confession post (though my memory tries to tell me that I definitely confessed this already in a past life, so who bloody knows at this point).

Basically, I’m a blogger who loves to write book reviews (even though I struggle to write them sometimes, too) yet I almost never read other reviews.

booth brennan GIF by Bones

Okay, but hear me out. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading reviews. I definitely do and a lot of my WordPress feed is exactly that. And it’s not that I’m not curious to know what other bloggers, especially some of my favorites and those whose opinions I respect so highly, think about the books they’re reading. Because of course I want to know those things! But  when it comes to a book I haven’t read yet but personally plan on reading, I avoid reviews like the plague–even the spoiler free ones. Why?

Because I don’t want my opinion influenced before I read it.

It may seem like a silly reason, but it’s there. As I’m updating my Goodreads account, I’ve accidentally scrolled too far down on a book’s page and, before I realize what’s happening, I’m reading the two star review at the very top right before I read the book and suddenly, all I can think about is what that reviewer said, and even if it might have not been an issue for me before (no one to tell, in instances like these), it’s definitely become one now.

I guess I should add the caveat that it’s negative reviews I don’t want to read. If it’s a positive review, it’s probably just going to add to my own hype. But if it’s negative, I’m going in with these preconceived notions that, had I not read the review, I would have been ignorant of. Because of course no one goes into reading a book completely uninfluenced (unless you just pick up a random book you’ve never heard of before and dive straight it). You had to have a reason for wanting to read it in the first place, right?Marketing efforts, hype, blurbs, synopsis, hell, even covers, have a way of influencing your opinion one way or another.

Read Pink Panther GIF

Usually, all of those things are trying to do one thing: make you want to read the book. I recognize that reviews often have the same goal. All the books I gush over, I do it in hopes that it help turn a reader into a fan of that book/author/series. But when I read a negative one, it just taints my reading experience.

Books I have read before? YES, I read those faster than you can write them (and if I know you wrote a review for a book I was planning to read, after I read it, I definitely try to remember to go back and read it…but I’m not very good at this). Books I have no intention of reading (especially super hyped books)? Yeah, I’ll usually read those, too. Just not books I haven’t read yet (even reviews I know are positive and spoiler-free).

I like this decision. It:

  • allows me to read books unbiasedly.
  • protects me from potential spoilers.
  • helps me write a completely honest, my-opinion-only review.

But, on the other hand, it also:

  • makes me feel like a hypocrite, because a) writing reviews takes work, b) I love it when people read mine and c) I love it even more when they say my words convinced them to try a series or read it sooner.
  • feels like I’m robbing fellow reviewers from that ^^ affirmation and good feelings.
  • lessens my ability to support other bloggers who I adore and want to support (especially those who only write book reviews and don’t do other memes, tags or posts, like I read endlessly).

So…that’s my stance on reviews. It seems weird to admit that I’m a book reviewer who doesn’t usually read reviews, but hopefully my discussion above helped make a little sense as to why? I’d love to hear your thoughts below on whether you read reviews or not, if you write them (or if you don’t!), and your reasons why. I’m really excited to see what else the community thinks!

Read on!

30 thoughts on “Discussion: To Read Or Not To Read Reviews”

  1. I do write reviews, mostly on Amazon, but Goodreads, too. I think it helps authors. I read reviews, too, and I don’t shy away from reading negative reviews. Sometimes a reader will knock off a few stars because “it’s a slow burn,” or, “it’s too scary.” Those are exactly the things that will make me want to read a book even more!

    1. That is one of the main reasons I post reviews, too, is to help support authors in that way (especially if they are positive, though I don’t hesitate to post negative ones, either; I just don’t tag the author in them). You do bring up a great point that someone else’s dislike could be my favorite aspect!

  2. I definitely feel you on this. I feel like I usually head to the reviews of books I have already read to see how others feel about them compared to my own feelings. Unless it’s a book I keep seeing mentioned and hyped (I’ll click to see what the fuss is about), OR if it is a book I’m on the fence about reading (I’ll read some reviews of bloggers I trust to gage if I think it’s worth it), I don’t really read reviews of books I haven’t read myself. I’ve been underwhelmed a few too many times by super hyped books, and I wonder if I would have felt differently about them if I hadn’t read so many glowing reviews before hand…

    1. Yes, absolutely agree, 110%. That’s also such an interesting point about wondering if you would have had lower expectations if you haven’t read that many glowing reviews. I hadn’t even really considered hype when I was writing this post. I’m not sure if I have any books that come to mind that fell into the same trap, but I think I’ll definitely be looking for that in the future!

  3. I read reviews. I sometimes worry I’ll read a spoiler I didn’t want to see but after a while I get to know how a reviewer writes and can kind of see if one is coming and skip ahead. Sometimes though I want to know the thing a reviewer liked or disliked. Especially if it means I find out details I’d prefer to know ahead of time in order to avoid the book. My most recent review I just posted might fall into that category for some people. Anyway I read them even if I plan to read the book. To me positive reviews just amp me up more about it.

    1. Ah, that makes totally sense (because you’re right, it’s not difficult to learn a reviewer’s style to know if they are spoiler-y or not. It’s also nice if they post a warning or something early on beforehand). I totally see why you read all the reviews and I completely didn’t even *think* about reading reviews to help look out for potential triggers. It’s such a good point (I do love reading your reviews, though, and I’m sorry it’s only of books I’ve read!).

  4. I won’t read reviews on ARCs for the same reasons you have mentioned, but I definitely dive in after I’ve written mine to see what other people think.
    But I read a lot of reviews of books that I think may be potential personal reads.

      1. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, that is the best compliment ever, thank you, Paul!! I can’t wait to check it out and add my bits to the discussion once you do! ❤ 😀

  5. I suppose I have a bit of a strange method as I read reviews when deciding if I want to read a book (and after to see what others think) but in the run up to reading a book, I will try not to. I want the adventure to be as fresh as possibly!

  6. In general, I read all the reviews for books – negative and positive. I absolutely love negative reviews because they may save me time and loot if they talk about pet peeves that annoy me. There are some authors where I read no reviews or blurbs because I like going in blind. Becky Chambers and Ann Leckie being two that come to mind off the top of me noggin. But once I finish, I go back and read all the reviews for them to see what other opinions be out there. Of course if I read a review and make up me mind that I don’t want to read a book then I tend to delete all future posts with reviews about that book to save time. I follow around 250 blogs and am always adding more because I adore reviews so much. And finding new books. I also write reviews for every book I read cause that’s me rule. I also love reviews for books I am unsure about. I have a few crew members whose tastes match me own so if the book is rated low then I don’t bother. Nice post matey!
    x The Captain

    1. Oooh, see, that’s a good point. I guess I’ve just been really lucky in finding books that I absolutely *adore* recently, so I don’t think about searching for reviews over books that might highlight potential dislikes and triggers. I do really like going back and reading the reviews after I’ve read the book, though. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing reviews; gushing (or ranting) about a book with someone! When you say you, “delete all future posts with reviews,” since you follow so many blogs, how do you do that? I also always write a review if I read a book, so I follow the same rule, there!

      Thank you for taking the time to offer your wisdom and thoughts, Cap’n. Always great to hear from you! *salutes*

      1. To answer yer question, I have wordpress set up so that I get an email for every time a crew member posts on their site. So if the title of the email is about a topic I be not interested in, I just delete it and don’t read the post. For example, I know I don’t want to read any more of Sarah J. Maas’ work ever again. So if her name or the name of one of the books shows up in the email title then I just delete that one. No offense to the crew who love her work but I don’t. I also don’t read a ton of thrillers but me sister likes them so I follow a lot of bloggers who do read thrillers to get ideas for books to buy me sis. I am also weird and like reading opinions for popular books that don’t interest me specifically. I just like to know the reasons why people like what they do. I can’t help following so many diverse blogs because I am book obsessed. With folliowing so many blogs, I do have to find some ways to wade through posts because otherwise I would never have time to read!
        Hope this ramble made sense.
        x The Captain

      2. Ah, that makes more sense, with going through it from your emails! I thought you were talking about the main feed page and I wasn’t sure how to filter that! But that makes total sense, thank you so much for explaining that to me! ❤

  7. Great post, and your approach makes sense to me. I also avoid reviews for books that I’m planning to read — I’d rather go into the book fresh and form my own opinions without any expectations. I do like to reviews once I’ve finished a book and written and posted my own review, to see how our thoughts line up (or don’t). If it’s a book I haven’t heard of, I’ll read the review to get a sense of the book, but if it ends up sounding liking something I’d want to read, I stop reading! On the other hand, if I know the book isn’t something I’ll read, I’ll read the review because I’m always interested in other people’s reading experiences. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! And I definitely see the logic to your method. I should probably start branching out with my review reading for books I’m not as aware of (I don’t think I’ll break from the avoiding-ones-over-books-I-want-to-read-until-I-actually-read-them), because you’re right, that’s a good method to see if a book lines up with yours and I do love to read what other bloggers think!

  8. I have never read a book review in my life. Just look at the cover, read the back synopsis and then read it. Although I like the little one line pieces in second run prints of reviews, lol!

  9. I understand the feeling of loving to write reviews, but not so much reading them. In my case, though, reviews are indispensable, because I always try to be aware of certain subjects that I may be sensitive of. That’s why trigger warnings are so important to me! Even if they’re not there, I still try to read a lot of reviews, to see if there’s any topic that I wouldn’t be comfortable with. Because of that, picking up books without knowing much about them is just not viable to me, and I’ve had several bad experiences when I did so. But I do understand wanting to have an un-biased opinion. And I think that’s totally fine! As you mentioned, you still read reviews, so you’re still supporting your favorite bloggers, just in a slightly different way.
    Great discussion! 🌟

    1. You have brought up such a good point I didn’t even realize!! I didn’t even think about reading books for trigger warnings (which, I should probably start including them in my reviews, so thank you for that important tip!). But I can totally see why reviews have an elevated sense of importance, when put in that light. Thank you so much for helping me realizing that!!! ❤

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