Thursday, January 17, 2008

Booking Through Reviews

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?

It's come to my attention that I haven't done anything cool on my blog on Thursday in a while and it so happened that I thought this was a great question.

I'd say that reviews influence my reading quite a bit. If I read a lot of great things about a certain book, I'm that much more likely to pick it up. I find, however, that I'm somewhat less influenced by bad reviews than I am by good. If I think the subject matter of a book sounds really interesting to me, but there are one or two glaringly bad reviews of it, I might still pick it up and give it a shot out of sheer interest in the topic.

There have been a few occasions when reviews have persuaded me to consider reading a book that I originally thought I wouldn't be terribly interested in. For example, I had no interest in The Maytrees by Annie Dillard but not long ago, I read a fantastic review of it which prompted me to reconsider and add it to my wish list. The same goes for On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. Though I read the summary and didn't think it was something worth checking out based on that alone, having read a few reviews, I think maybe I'll check it out after all.

In this final paragraph, I'm sure I'll convince everyone reading that I'm a big obsessessive compulsive lunatic, but uh, here goes. As I troll the web, I record in a rather gigantic notebook, books that sound of interest to me - from blogs, from Amazon, from BookCrossing, from magazines, and so on. I used to be quite a nut about putting things that I had a passing fancy for on my wish (and this is where the real craziness comes in) I consult my massive written list and often look up the books on LibraryThing to read some reviews from some fellow serious book lovers' reviews to see if they thought the book was any good and so narrow down the list before I stick them on my BookCrossing wish list. Go ahead, point and laugh if you like, but I think it's working out pretty well!


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  2. Sorry - I deleted my previous comment because I made a mess of it (I really should preview before posting). What I meant to say was this: you make an interesting point, about whether a good review is more influential than a bad one. I'll have to think that one over.
    And your making a list of recommendations is not silly. I have done exactly the same!

  3. I do exactly the same thing. Come on, that's what cliff's site and places like GoodReads are for. Happy BTT!

  4. I do something very similar when compiling my wish list, Megan. :-) I e-mail a blog review or make note of a book, tuck it into my recommended file and then later will go through the file, do a little research and decide if it's a sure thing for the final wish list. Sometimes I know without a doubt a book will go on the wish,list, but not always.

  5. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who's a bit overscrupulous about my "wish list" process. The book blogosphere's just making me that much worse! ;-)