So as bloggers, we see TONS of reviews out there for every kind of book imaginable. Since I usually try to base my reviews on only my experiences with the book, sometimes it’s hard for me to draw the line where I let other reviews influence what I read and how I react to it.
There are the good kinds of influences – Mostly when I see reviews for a book and my reaction is, “Holy cow, I need to read this book!” or “I wasn’t that interested in this, but after seeing the review, maybe I really should give it a chance”. I love that there are so many weekly features out there for us to participate in and display our favorite books and throw out suggestions for other readers (Warning: Name drops!), my favorites being Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and TGIF hosted by Ginger @ GReads!
Now here comes the problem when I pick up off of these awesome recommendations. I didn’t like the book that everyone was raving about. Then I begin thinking, “Okay, so tons of other readers absolutely loved this. What’s wrong with me? Did I not get what this book is about? Why didn’t I like it as much? What did I miss?” – And then as I write my reviews, I begin to think of all the other gushing reviews that came before me… It’s really hard to go against the grain and publicly declare that I disagree with everyone else! I just had to have missed something! There’s no way everyone else got it wrong – But then I have to remember – There is no wrong or right! It’s an opinion. I just have to be confident with what I feel and that’s exactly what I should post. I took an oath (okay, it’s not an oath…) when I started my blog that all of my reviews were going to be honest, possibly brutally honest at times. I wasn’t going to attack authors by all means if I didn’t like the book, but I should still be able to share my opinion regardless of what others think and even if a lot of people may disagree. In fact, I think there should be some strong contrasting points on a book because that means that people are really getting into it and as we all know, no single book will be right for every single person. If everyone likes the same thing, most likely someone out there is not being truthful.
So I finally suck it up and write my honest opinion. Phew!
Now what do I read next? Therein lies another problem with letting reviews influence me. Do I let negative reviews change my decision to read a book that I already put on my TBR list? I feel like if it’s something I actively sought out to pick up and then I see a few people out there who didn’t like it, where do I draw the line in letting it influence my decision to read it? Maybe I’m the sort of person it’s geared for. If I didn’t like that one book that everyone loved, maybe I’m the one person who will like the book everyone didn’t care for. Who am I to say “I won’t like it” to something that I never even tried?
But in all honesty, we all turn away a few books based on reviews. That’s what they’re there for anyway, isn’t it? Reviews put our opinions out there and guide us to what we might like and maybe steer us clear of something that might be a “time-waster”.
I guess the most famous dilemma that surrounds this issue is the common question as of recently: Do I read Fifty Shades of Gray? And my answer to this is now: No. Truthfully, this is the one book that I actually sought out reviews to read in order for me to help me make my decision. I’ve seen several posts lately about why people are not reading it. To sum it up briefly (because I’m sure you’ve seen it everywhere), it comes down to three major points for me:
The “bad” writing: I’ve read that even the author agreed that the writing was not good and in all honesty, this is the main reason I chose not to read it. If there is anything that ruins a book for me, it’s poor writing. Even if the plot is fantastic, poor dialogue, descriptions, choice of words – You name it – in my experience, it really can be a book ruiner.
The inaccuracy of the BDSM scenes: I don’t claim to be an expert in any way (Human Sexuality class at community college doesn’t really seem reliable for me to make judgments), but I’ve read from other people who actually are knowledgable of BDSM state how inaccurate these scenes are in the book and are closer to rape than anything else. To me, it’s the inaccuracy that bothers me. If you’re going to write about something as controversial as that, I personally think you should do a little more research if you’re going to make it that detailed.
Repetition of descriptions and feelings: Repeating! Ugh! That’s another thing that really irritates me. I read a book where they used the same reference to the main character only having her detective skills thanks to reading a lot of mysteries – But that reference was used at least 4 times within the same chapter and it drove me nuts! I was like, Okay, I get it!!! So when I read all of the repetition in 50 Shades (mostly the whole “inner goddess” thing), that was another nail in the coffin.
Okay, so bring on the ridicule! But first let me make it clear: I only decided that the book was most likely not for me. I in no way mean to insult or offend anyone that enjoys reading this series. I’ve already had a few lashes (including one of my own good friends who for some reason felt personally offended when I tried to explain my reasoning. I guess doing so via text probably didn’t get the message across well though)… Like I’ve said before, I will never insult a person for liking a book just because I didn’t like it. I’m always open for comments, but please respect my opinions like I respect yours.
So with a few very minor influences, that has been the one specific case where I have ever let reviews make a very firm decision to turn a book away.
My point with this rather winded post (oops!) is that reviews will always influence the way I feel about books. Sometimes I have to fight the urge to let them take precedence over what I really feel about what I’ve been reading and I really have to remember that people like reviews because they’re honest. They really are our guidelines. Ultimately, it’s always up to the reader where to draw the lines between influence and where to shine and be confident in what you really feel, regardless of other opinions.