18 January 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Let's Review

This week’s question is suggested by Puss Reboots:
How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?
Reviews, particularly online ones by other bloggers, have done a lot to expand my Wanted list, but more by alerting me to the existence of interesting-sounding books than by making up my mind as to whether to read a certain book. The vast majority of these I’ve yet to stumble across and read; and when I do, I don’t remember specific reviews, I just have an idea that I read somewhere that that’s quite a good book. Offhand and after midnight, I can think of three books I grabbed on sight because I’d read good things about them: The Alienist and Doomsday Book (bloggers’ reviews) and The Book of Lost Things (newspaper). And in every case, the reviewers were right.

Beyond that, reviews don’t influence me a great deal as my primary criterion is that a book sounds interesting. A bad review of a book I’ve already decided I want to read won’t change my mind, partly because I know from reading so many reviews that people’s tastes vary, and partly because I’m just stubborn. And if I’m convinced I won’t like it, no-one’s opinion is likely to change my mind. But if I’m undecided about a book, a review might make me more likely to read it or pass on it.


  1. Reviews work much the same way for me. They don't usually change my opinion of what I already decided I want to read (or not read) but they introduce me to many, many new books that look interesting!

  2. I find I'm more inclined to pick up a book I've never heard of if someone else likes it. However, if someone doesn't like it, it doesnt' stop me from wanting to read it... because, like you said, tastes are so subjective.

  3. Everyone seems to have similar answers on this one.

  4. I am much the same way. Sometimes reviews will push me one way or the other when I'm on the fence about a book, but mostly it comes down to whether or not the book interests me. As you said, everyone has different preferences and so it is not such a simple thing to say that one book will appeal to everyone.


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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776