Sunday, June 20, 2010

Book Reviews: Love them or Hate them?

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!! I love that we have days to celebrate mothers and fathers. They deserve the extra recognition. My father is probably the most supportive person in my life. No matter what I attempt, he believes in me 100%.

My husband is the best dad ever to my kids. Plus, he's super hot and funny.
And he's really good at cleaning bathrooms, which is good too. I hope all you fathers have a great day, and I hope everyone will take some time to call your dads and tell them how great they are.

Now onto business. The winner of last week's 10 page critique is Sandy Shin! Sandy, I'll email you sometime today. Commenters today can be eligible for next week's critique. Just make sure to say you would like to win a critique in your comment and include an email address. If you want more info, this post explains everything.

Today I have some confessions to make. They're shocking. Don't hate me, okay?

I don't like book reviews.

I won't read them unless I've already read the book being reviewed. I don't like to know much about a book before I read it and I think almost all reviews, even the ones that claim they don't include spoilers, give too much away. I might skim for the sentences where the reviewer says whether or not s/he liked the book, but that's it.

Also, I don't read jacket copy for the same reason.

I choose my reading list based on buzz and personal recommendations. If I notice a lot of people are blogging about a certain book, I'll put it on my to-read list. If a friend with good taste in books recommends something, I'll probably read it. If I already love an author I will definitely pick up his or her latest book.

This means I am a lousy bookstore browser. When I go to a bookstore I have to have a list. I pick up the books I want, skim the first few pages to make sure they look good, and buy them. I usually don't know what they're about, and sometimes I don't even know the genre. (I recently read a book that I assumed from the cover would be YA fantasy--it wasn't. It was literary fiction. I loved it.)

I have a good friend who loves reading reviews. She likes to know a lot about a book before she decides to invest time in reading it and finds almost all of the books she reads through reviews. She wouldn't even consider reading a book without first knowing the basic plot.

Both of us read some books we love and both of us read some books we really don't like, so neither method is infallible, but they work for us.

So how about you? Do you like reviews? Where do you go when you need to add to your to-read list?

My agent Sara Megibow is still looking for romance writers. So if you write romance, romantic YA, fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, etc. and are ready to query agents check out this post. I'm giving blog readers a referral!

40 comments:

Amanda J. said...

I like reviews that tell me whether or not the reviewer liked it and why. If there are spoilers I'll probably stop reading that persons reviews and just look at what they rated the book as or may stop reading their reviews altogether.

I write reviews but my blog isn't just for reviews and I try to write the kind of review I would want to read. But I do read jacket copy, I want to know what the basic premise before I start reading, because there's no point in me spending money or wasting my time if I'm not going to like anything about the book. :\

Great post, I look forward to seeing other people's responses! Also, I should really finish writing my MS hehe. :)

Aubrie said...

Happy Father's Day to you, too! That's great that your husband is good at cleaning bathrooms! Mine is good at vacuuming, which I hate, so it works out.

I don't mind book reviews, and I won't go to a movie unless I've read some reviews. Books I'll take a chance on, but if it had great reviews it's more incentive to pick it up.

But that's totally fine if you don't like them. My sister doesn't like any type of reviews because it spoils the plot for her.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I usually scan reviews to get a sense of why people give it thumbs up or down. But I hate when a review runs through the whole plot. I don't want a synopsis, just a reaction. And I learned long ago that people have such varied opinions that I might love something lots of people don't and vice versa.
Yes, please, enter me again in your super-fantastic crit offer. :D
sleuthwood (at) sbcglobal. (dot) net

Melissa said...

I'll be entered in the ten page critique! melissa.wideen@gmail.com

You don't even read jacket copies? That's crazy (but is also kind of cool because I've never heard of anyone not doing that before!). I like reading book reviews but I'm always sort of wary of them because I don't want spoilers or anything like that.

When I pick books I read three sentences from the middle of the first half of the book, and judge it on the cover. That's if I'm at the bookstore with no list.

Otherwise it's authors I know or personal recommendations.

You're husband looks super sweet and I hope your whole family has a happy fathers day!

Jemi Fraser said...

I don't read long reviews - and I don't like knowing too much before reading the book. Just a quick why the person liked/didn't like the book is good for me.

Love the photo - hope your hubby has a great Father's Day. :)

Sandy Shin said...

Oh, I'm so, so excited! Thank you for offering the critique and for drawing me. It's still a draft, so I'll have to clean up my first 10 pages before sending them to you, but I'm so happy to win this. :)

I do like reading book reviews; however, I prefer shorter ones that give succinct summaries and the reader's reactions without delving into spoilers. I am a picky reader by nature, and reviews (and blurbs) help me choose what to read. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

Mainly I get my recommendations from reviews on blogs and Goodreads.

If I'm at a bookstore and never heard of a book, I carefully judge the cover, jacket description, and first page before I buy it.

Diane said...

Your husband has a little Robert Downey Jr. working in that picture..... cutie patootie.

I would love a critique and I do like to get recommendations for books. There are literally too many books out there to even know where to begin. :O)

Candyland said...

I don't like book reviews either. You're not alone!

Paul Greci said...

I look at the YALSA lists for YA novels. They have a best book list (no reviews) that includes about 80 novels a year, and a quick pick list for reluctant readers. Sometimes I look at VOYA as well. Their reviews are usually a few sentences long. The ALAN review does about 20-nonspoiler reviews three or four times a year.

I don't read reviews that I think will give too much info. I will read some cover copy in a bookstore.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I'm not a fan of reviews that tell what happens in the book- I only want to know what great books are out there that I need to buy.

You're not alone!

Heather Sunseri said...

Great minds think alike! I just posted about expectations before picking up a book to read. I love how you like a surprise - that you'll pick up a book without knowing very much about it, if anything.

Lisa said...

I would like to be entered in the critique please! lisa.aldin@gmail.com

I like certain book reviews, but I do also pick my books on buzz/awards that book has received, too.

Jessica Nelson said...

I'm sorry, I'm still stumbling over the fact you don't read jacket copy....LOL

Janna Qualman said...

I hate to admit it, but I usually skip over reviews, too. Not in magazines, just blogs...

Aw, love the hubby picture! Sweet tribute.

Lydia Kang said...

First of all, congrats to Sandy!

I have mixed feelings about book reviews. I love them because it's the best way to learn about new books when I'm browsing blogs. I don't like them because I'm afraid of one person's opinion swaying me against something that I might have liked.

Wishy washy, as usual!

Janet Johnson said...

Congrats Sandy!

If I'm curious about a book, I like book reviews . . . but ONLY if they don't have spoilers. I hate that. But truth, I don't read very many.

Oh, and I'd love a critique, as usual. :)

Talli Roland said...

I like reviews as long as they are short and snappy and tell from the blogger's perspective why they liked the book or not.

I do them occasionally as I know how much it can mean to authors - it really helps get the word out there!

Patti said...

I do read book jackets. As for reviews. I don't read them for books that I know I want to read, but if a fellow blogger has a book review on their blog it might make me interested in abook.

Would still like a critique.

Kelley Vitollo said...

I like reviews, but I'm also one of those readers who will sometimes read the end of a book first, or halfway through it :)

I would like to be entered for the critique.
kdvitollo@yahoo.com

Creepy Query Girl said...

You DON'T like reviews????!!! lol. This has been coming up a lot lately and it seems some people don't like to have any preconcieved ideas before they read the book and will pick according to worth of mouth or nice coverart. I'm not one of them. I don't know if it's my control freak nature but I HAVE to know what the book's about. same goes for movies. I guess there's this part of me that will think I'm in for something fun and breezy and wind up ten hours later crying my eyes out and getting fat on ben & jerry's. Or afraid to go to sleep with the lights out...

Solvang Sherrie said...

I like short reviews, but I HATE spoilers. I think movie trailers show all the best parts, but book reviews are usually somewhat better :)

Mary Campbell said...

I like short reviews - always looking for a good book to read. I like reviews that tell me how the reader connected emotionally with the book and why they liked it or didn't like it. I like to know what content(language, sex, etc.) is in it.
Your hubby is a cutie and he cleans bathrooms? definitely a keeper.

Christina Lee said...

I like reviews too if they're short and to the point! But of course recommendations and buzz draws me in too!

Terri Tiffany said...

I wish she loved inspirational romance!:)
I don't read book reviews too much either from online but will read the back jackets in stores.

Jen said...

Great picture of the hubs! I hope he had a fanatstic fathers day!

Happy Win to Sandy Shin! She rocks, as do you for hosting the fun!

I love book reviews, they really show be what people think, I also go off of covers and word of mouth, mine is quite the mixture I'd say!

Christine Danek said...

Congrats to Sandy!
I don't mind book reviews as long as they are short. I posted too many at one time which was a mistake making the post super long.
Would love a critique christine.danek@verizon.net
Wish I was ready to query. No where near it yet. :)

Kristin said...

Dude. I love, love jacket copy.
Love trying to write them for my WIP.

Theresa Milstein said...

My blogger friends are good at not spoiling books. But I won't go on Amazon because someone gives it away. When I got the last Harry Potter book, I went on medial blackout. But I read book jackets because it's how I decide if a book sounds interesting. Then I read the first page. If all is good, I buy it.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I have a few blogging friends whose recommendations I trust. Though they usually tell me of a great read via PMs. I read reviews on blogs, but I won't base my decision on that unless it's obvious the reviewer and I have similar tastes.

I have something for you on my blog. :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Sorry I'm late. Happy Father's Day to Q!
And I'm not a fan of reviews either, thought I will scan through some if and when I finish a book to see if others felt the same way I did.

Congrats Sandy!

Julie Musil said...

I'm so happy for Sandy! She's such a giving blogger, and truly deserves this critique.

I'd love to be entered in your next one, if it's not too late. My e-mail address is julie@juliemusil.com. Thanks!

Tabitha Bird said...

Hmmm... I like book reviews. But if someone doesn't like a book, that is not necessarily going to put me off reading it. I tend to like reviews after I have read the book.

Jayne said...

Hello! New follower. :)

I like reviews but hate spoilers. A good review should never spoil the plot for folk who haven't read it. But it is an interesting question - how we read and whether reviews help form a decision... I read on a blog someone saying they liked an author and why, and I made a note to get one of the books (did, and loved it. Got three more now!), and I bought the book Wolf Hall based on the buzz around it, not any actual review. The rest have been from scanning the blurb, and trying to decipher the book cover! I am a big (HUGE) fan of book jacket illustration.

Jody Hedlund said...

Aww, I liked the things you said about your hubby! He sounds like a keeper! Especially because of the bathroom cleaning! :-)

I'm getting pickier about what books I read the busier I get. That means it's usually a tried and true author that I'm already a fan of. If I try a new one, it's usually a friend who's just had a release. I like to support my friends' books because I know just how hard they had to work to reach print!

VR Barkowski said...

Aw, I like your hubby just from the pic alone!

If I happen upon a reviewer (read that: book blogger) who has similar taste to mine, I will read their reviews consistently. That said, I've never chosen NOT to read a book in my tbr pile because of a review, although I often end up adding books.

Reviewers who reveal spoilers are anathema! I want to know what kind of book it is. Is it character driven? Does it have a great voice? Evocative prose that makes me think without taking me out of the story? Can I lose myself in the tale? Then I'm there, regardless of genre or plot.

Medeia Sharif said...

I returned to tell you that I have an award waiting for you at my blog.

Kathleen Foucart said...

I tend to only read reviews now for writing books and research/reference materials. I hear so much about fiction from word-of-mouth that I don't even bother with the reviews anymore (unless it's posted on a blog I regularly read-- but even then sometimes I skip it unless I've already read the book).

DL Hammons said...

I have something for you at my place today. :)

Lisa and Laura said...

I kind of go back and forth, but I don't usually read reviews BEFORE I read a book. I do like to check reviews out after. Having a little background on the plot is nice, but it's also kind of fun to go in blind too. Could I be any more wishy-washy?