I’ve recently realized that I hardly ever leave reviews for books. It seems, on the surface, to be a rather thankless and time-consuming enterprise, BUT I also realize that a significant portion of my initial thinking about whether or not to buy/try a book involves the existing reviews of said book. How do I pick books? I look for a topic or genre I’m interested in, sort the list by average rating (number of stars), sift by the apparent relevance of the title, read the blurb to see if it’s interesting, and then check out the actual reviews (more or less in that order). I tend to ignore low-quality reviews easily enough (you know, the comments about shipping speeds, the ones written partly in “txt spk,” and the ones oozing with remarkably disproportionate hate over something irrelevant to the main content of the book), but I do try to read both the high rating reviews and some of the low rating reviews to get a range of perspectives.
Primarily, when I read book reviews I’m looking to see if the book fulfills whatever promise intrigued me from the blurb and whether or not there is a hidden bias or other trend in the book that will be offensive or otherwise distasteful for me. I don’t tend to care who wrote the review (with the exception of obvious author-under-a-pseudonym type situations) and even actively avoid reading many “professional” or “industry” reviews because … well … I always feel like A) I never agree with the so-called professionals, B) the so-called professionals are out of sync with popular culture, and/or C) the quotes of so-called professionals are there to sell me something, not to give me the real scoop. Typically, by the time I’m reading reviews, I’m already leaning heavily toward buying the book, but reviews can help get me excited about reading the book ASAP, let me feel like it’s mediocre enough to just put on my wishlist for an eventual “later” that may never come, or make my face scrunch in disapproval and scrap the whole plan to buy/read the book at all.
So … I’ve decided that since I know personally how beneficial a book review can be for readers and, as someone who writes and has writer friends, I know what a review can *feel* like for writers, I will work to write at least one book review per month this year. I won’t promise to catch up from the months I’ve already missed, but I’m going to try! It’s important to note that one book review a month is actually pretty paltry considering how many books I read in a month, but I have to start somewhere, right? If I promise two a month, I think I’ll just stress myself out. So, I’m promising one a month and if I get into the habit of doing more, then awesome!
Anyone else jumping on the book review bandwagon? If you already write book reviews regularly, what’s your process? Do you start while you’re still reading the book? Do you sit down as soon as you read “The End” or let it simmer for a little while? Does reviewing regularly change how you read or buy books?
I’d love to know!