Thursday, August 01, 2013

Book Girl Don’t Cry: Review Reading Habits

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Book Girls Don’t Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don’t miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:


Review Reading Made Complicated!

Do you find yourself avoiding certain reviews or hiding from Goodreads when you want to be completely unswayed about a certain book? We’re wondering how many share the same habits for reading reviews – hence the reason for our topicΒ  this week! I’m particular about which reviews I’ll read and when. For instance, if I know I will be starting a book in the next couple of weeks, I’ll avoid reading reviews on it. I love going into it with zero expectations. A lot of the time I don’t even refresh my awful memory by re-reading the blurb, making me blind to the plot and even the genre in some cases – when I’m really good about not peeking on Goodreads, which is hard! I find if I go into a book after having read negative reviews, I’ll start it with a grim attitude and it will make me have less patience towards any quirks that may not have bothered me had I not been told to pick them out. Likewise, if I go into a book after having read rave reviews, I’ll be disappointed very easily if it does not meet my now high expectations.

However, the biggest reason for me to avoid reviews shortly before starting a book is because many have some sort of spoiler since everyone has a slightly different definition of what is considered a spoiler. Like, one may not think it’s a spoiler if the thing mentioned was revealed in the first 10% of a book, but I hate to know any type of unknown before I’m meant to. Although, I find even book blurbs contain spoilers nowadays. I read a book once without reading the synopsis, and when I found out what I thought was the book’s big surprise/twist I was flabbergasted and I LOVED the book partly because of this; however, I read the blurb afterwards and I saw this “surprise” mentioned in it and it made me realize how very different everyone else’s experience with the story would be. I was kind of disappointed they wouldn’t have the same amazement at its discovery as I had had, too. On the other hand, I’ve read a book or two where I was completely lost on certain aspects of the plot because small key explanations were mentioned in the synopsis as a heads-up – which I personally find irritating.

I’m not going to say I don’t ever read reviews before I read the book. I do, especially if I happen upon a review from a trusted friend/blogger, but I won’t be seeking them out – like, say, siffle through Goodreads for its reviews. In fact I’m often seen putting my hand physically in front of the average rating on my comp screen if I have to open the book’s page to add it as my “currently-reading”. I do often find very early reviews important, though. I skipped September Girls due to the reviews I saw that assured me there was no way in Hade’s I would put myself through such torture, and I also requested some ARCs I had initially skipped over because of some amazing early reviews like Golden (which I still haven’t read *slaps self*). Plus by the time I read the book I’ve likely forgotten the finer details of those reviews so I don’t have specific expectations, which works out.

Weirdly – and by the higher amount of comments/views my reviews for older books on the blog have I think many share this preference – I love reading reviews of books I’ve already read the most. I love to see how my take on it compares to others’. It’s always fun to see how things are perceived differently by other readers with different tastes. Plus, some of the best times is passionately arguing over a book you loved and someone else hated (or vice versa), right? *snicker* What I often do, as well, after I read and review a book is go through Goodreads and read/re-read my friends’ reviews. I just enjoy seeing everyone’s thoughts when the book is fresh in my mind.

There you have it! And wowza – who knew reading reviews could be so complex? >.<


What are some of your reading habits or quirks?
Do you prefer reading reviews before or after you’ve read a book?


We’re looking for topic suggestions for future BGDC posts! What would YOU like to discuss (can be anything from vents to advice)?
Leave a topic suggestion via this form!
You know you love me!
XOXO, Book Girl

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

Latest posts by Giselle (see all)

35 Responses to “Book Girl Don’t Cry: Review Reading Habits”

  1. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    I try my hardest not to read reviews before going into a book or when I’m about to review it. I guess the review can ‘comtaminate’ with my thoughts and probably make my review not as honest as it should be. Though early reviews really are helpful! September Girls <– UGH. I had to go through that one unfortunately.

    Lovely post, Giselle! <33

  2. Enbrethiliel


    I’m totally with you about avoiding reviews before I’ve read a book! You’re right that everyone disagrees about what a spoiler is, so it’s best to stay safe and isolated before starting a book.

    Recently, I also encountered one of those blurbs that blab too much. Two blurbs, actually, for the novels paired in a Thomas Hardy omnibus. I guess the publisher thought that when books are 150 years old, everyone knows how they end. =P Well, not in my case!

    Why do you say it’s “weird” that you enjoy reading reviews most after you’ve finished a book? I would disagree if only because that is also my preference, but mostly because I think it is actually normal to think so! These days, reviews are seen as a promotional tool, something to persuade people to read a book; but in the past (or so an author has told me), reviews were written as much to help writers improve their craft as to guide readers to worthwhile books. And you can’t join those kinds of discussions without having some knowledge of the book in question or of similar books. So while a book is probably best read when one is “blind,” a review is best read with a view which is as wide as possible. =)

  3. Jennifer | Book Den

    I try not to read reviews for books I know I want to read, but I will peek at the rating and skim a tiny bit just to see if they loved or hated it. I mostly don’t want to be spoiled, but I also don’t want to influence my own review. I love reading reviews of books I know nothing about, though. I also love going back and reading reviews after I have written my own. You are right – it can get very complicated. πŸ™‚

  4. Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    I try not to read the blurbs anymore. I have found that is sometimes helps to not know what exactly what is going to happen. And I tend to avoid reading the whole review for a book I going to read soon. πŸ™‚

  5. Shannelle C.

    One synopsis that reveals a lot? Fallen. I can’t remember if it was in the synopsis or just the author’s bio at the back of the book, but it just immediately revealed that the book was about angels. And then that was the only important thing in the whole book. So that small detail given away made the book bad.

    As for reading reviews, sometimes it can’t be helped when you’re looking at blogs. But I did go to Goodreads hunting for reviews once, and I feel a little guilty now. I didn’t like the book, but I keep wondering if it would be different if I never read all those reviews.

    It’s better to go look at reviews for books you’ve already read. it’s twice the fun if it’s for a book you hated, and someone wrote a hilarious review.

  6. Kelly

    I put my hand over the screen as well! Especially if it’s a book in series and I’m adding the books to my TBR list. I have a habit of not being able to keep my eyes from looking at the blurb so I cover it with my hand to make sure I can’t see any part of it. I also tend to not look at the blurb for the book I’m picking up simply because they do cover a lot of the surprises in it which takes away a lot of the fun of reading the books in the first place. We have a lot of the same review reading habits! I definitely enjoy reading reviews for books I’ve already read the best πŸ™‚

  7. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I definitely agree about commenting on reviews of books I’ve already read. It’s more fun to see how others react and to compare to how I felt about the book. Because I don’t always review books right away, I do tend to do a quick skim of reviews, just to reacquaint myself with the story.

  8. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I think we have pretty much the same way of reading reviews. I don’t like reading them right before I read a book or when I am reading a book either. If it’s a good blogger friend like you, or Jenni, I will usually try to read some of it though so I know your basic thoughts. I trust your opinion. πŸ™‚

  9. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows

    Yay! I love this topic! YES, I avoid reviews of books I haven’t read – especially if it’s a book I have high hopes for, or I’ve been wanting to read for ever. I don’t want anyone tainting that haha Sometimes though, if I’m unsure what to expect, reading advanced reviews have helped me decide and I think more often than not, they can sway me to pick up a book I never would have otherwise. Other times though, they’ve been precious warnings. Can I say I always heeded those warnings? Sadly, no Β­Β­>.<

    Anyways, my favorite reviews to read are also of books I've read too! I love gushing over the same books with someone who just understands all my feels. I also like venting with others who can appreciate my pain! LOL

  10. Michelle

    I read reviews before and after I read books. Sometimes the book descriptions can be misleading and really vague, so before I read a book I like to what people say its really about. I usually skim the beginning of the review and then skip to the end to see what the persons overall opinion was about the book. I don’t read the middle stuff because I don’t like to spoil too much of the book for myself. But I also really really like to read reviews of books I’ve already read. It’s so fun to read other people’s opinions. Esp if I hated the book! That’s really fun!

    Oh yeah and i had the same experience with September Girls. Totally got warned away from it and am glad I was! So don’t want to read about a guy calling girls sluts and whores! But the cover is so pretty that I may have read it if not for cool people telling what it truly contains.

  11. Savannah

    I do skip reviews on books that I’m about to pick up. Like you, I want to go in completely blank and able to enjoy it or not. Other times I read reviews and certain aspects of the story draw me in more, making me want to read. Other times, I do read reviews of books for spoilers cause I’m reading the book and feeling impatient. Or I d go on twitter and ask because I need to know.

  12. ShootingStarsMag

    Interesting post. I like the idea of diving into a book without reading the summary. I should try that sometime with something I’ve had on the shelves for awhile. I don’t really seek out reviews; I tend to just read the ones I see – particularly on blogs I love!

    I do really love reading reviews of books I’ve already read too though– it’s cool to see what others thought.


  13. Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

    I am the same way…I avoid or skim reviews and often don’t even read the synopsis. Often my husband will ask me what I am reading and I’ll have to tell him: “I’m only on page 10 and honestly haven’t a clue yet!” Of course he thinks I am nuts!

  14. Candace

    I like to go in not knowing much either. I often don’t reread the book description. I will skim a review only if I know I’m reading the book soon, but otherwise I don’t worry about it, I have a very short memory. And I often check out the ratings on goodreads when I first start a book, but it’s probably not smart to do so.
    I agree, the spoiler thing is hard. Sometimes when I write my reviews it’s hard to determine what is a spoiler, especially if it’s already in the description.

  15. Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading in the Rain***

    Ahh yeah I don’t like to read reviews either, but sometimes I’ll read one anyway, and the part where you pointed out the synopsis gave away important information that helped understand the story is why I always read the summary of a book before reading the actual book because I get confused so easily, although being surprised must always be super nice πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Fantastic post, Giselle!

  16. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    Oh yes, I don’t mind early reviews and spoilers at all, mostly because I tend to forget everything but the general impression. It’s only a week or so before starting something that I avoid all reviews and status updates on GoodReads. But like most people, I much prefer reviews for something I’ve already read, I like views that are different from mine.

    Thanks for the lovely post, Giselle!

  17. Faith Sullivan

    Yeah, I’m usually get to read a book after the initial release blitz of reviews, too. I tend to select titles based on good word of mouth, but I like to make up my own mind about them once I start page one. It’s a complicated mix.

  18. Christina @ Christina Reads YA

    Your views seem to be very similar to Jenni’s. I’m with you on not specifically seeking out reviews for books I’m about to read, but I definitely check when it comes to whether or not to request a book. I don’t like writing negative reviews–though I do write them when necessary–and having those early reviews and ratings, as you said with September Girls, can be immensely helpful. I’m also with you on reading reviews for books you’d liked most–how else to tell if your tastes are similar? How else to spread the bookish love? πŸ™‚

  19. Molli

    It depends – sometimes if one has been widely hyped and I have it or am on the fence about it, I’ll check out early reviews. I do this too if it’s one I bought and haven’t had the chance to get to. (AHEM GISELLE READ GOLDEN PLS.)

    But then a lot of times I like to make up my own mind, so I will maybe skim reviews of a new/upcoming one, just to see if the person likes it or not. I don’t always want to get TOO involved in other’s thoughts on a book in case theirs change MINE when I read it.

  20. Alisa Selene

    I am the same..I am scared of being spoiled so I tend to focus on the bits that don’t include specific details..and then when I am done I look back and compare thoughts!

  21. tabithasbookblog

    I try not to read reviews for books I haven’t read – especially if I’m planning on reading it, but otherwise it’s usually okay for me to read the reviews. I LOVE reading reviews for books I’ve already read, just because I can actually leave a meaningful comment. I always save reviews of books I’m planning on reading, because then I can go back later and comment on those blog posts!

    Great post!

  22. Tanya Patrice

    I’m the same way with avoiding reviews before I read a book. But I have to read the book blurb – sometimes I’ll forget it and read a book anyway, but I have to read it right before I start the book so I know where it’s going.

  23. Charlotte K. Fiel

    I like reading reviews of a book even before I read it. And the best thing about it is that it is one powerful tool to make me decide whether I’m going to buy the book or not (especially if it’s written by an author I’m not familiar with). As for ARCs (since they’re free), I also love reading reviews about it. If it has negative reviews, then I am more inclined to read it just to answer my curiosity on why people put in a negative review.

    Great post, Giselle.

  24. Megan

    I feel pretty similar to you. I don’t want to get influenced if possible. And reading reviews of books I’ve read is my favourite.

  25. Kaley @ Books Etc

    I am exactly the same way. Like, creepily similar. Lol. I thought I was odd for not rereading the synopsis but I’m realizing that a lot of bloggers are like that, I think. If I’m torn on whether I want to try a book I’ll usually seek out my trusted bloggers but I won’t usually read a review for a book I haven’t read yet. Finally, I completely get what you mean about spoilers in the synopsis. I’m amazed sometimes at what is included that shouldn’t be. Sometimes, though, that can bite me in the ass but it usually works out so I carry on with my quirk. Great post!!

  26. Aman

    I try to avoid reviews for books that I’m going to read that month, but if I’m halfway through the book and (a)not liking it or (b)for some reason, not able to get into the story, I’ll peak at the goodreads reviews to get an idea of where I stand. That sometimes help me in DNFing books earlier and saving my time.

  27. Celine (The Book Shimmy)

    Your review reading habits are a lot like mine! I love to read reviews, but try to avoid reading them just before I start a book, because it will most likely influence my reading experience.

    And putting a spoiler in the blurb is just about the stupidest thing ever -_-

  28. Kara @ Great Imaginations

    I need to try putting my hand over the screen. LOL that is such a great idea and I have never thought of that before. Mostly though, I see the early buzz but I try not to let it sway my opinion. I try not to read early reviews, but if I do, I scan them. I’m pretty good about not being influenced. Though I know I have before and I really should work to change that.

  29. Alice

    I completely agree with you Gizelle! I try and avoid reading reviews as well as blurbs before I start a book because I really do love having a clean slate before I start. I don’t want any expectations to sway how I feel about the book as I read it.

    And again, I’m the same when it comes to reading reviews. I love reading what people thought about books I already read and loved. It’s so much fun to flail and share a love over the same story! <3

  30. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    I’m actually getting a lot more particular about not reading reviews for books I’ve not yet read. All I’ll really do is look at the rating, and that’s about it. My review needs to not be influenced by others. As such, I’m commenting a bit less, but I’d rather leave meaningful ones, which I can do when I’m familiar with the book or plan never to read it.

    Also, that on spoilers is so true! I try not to put in spoilers, but I’ve had people tell me I spoiled something, and I’ll be like “but that happens on page 10?” To them it is, so whatever, fine. However, if you don’t like having page 10 spoiled, do not read reviews or the back copy. If I know I’m reading something, I def don’t read the synopsis. I’m always like “I HAD NO IDEA THIS BOOK WAS ABOUT THIS” and then people look at me funny. haha.

    The exception to reading reviews is if I get a review request. Then I will go and dig through GR to see if I think I’ll like it. I hate when I dislike review books. For a lot of reasons.

  31. Jennifer @ Some Like It Paranormal

    I read reviews of everything but I do try to not read a review for a book that I am about to start or review so I have a fresh mind. As long as I read the review a few weeks before I read it I usually forget enough to enjoy the book with a fresh mind.

  32. Trish @ Between the Lines

    I prefer reading reviews after I’ve read the book and written my own review. For very similar reasons to you. And that is one of my favourite features about GR, seeing all my friends reviews together. I do read reviews from trusted bloggers though and they very often sell a book to me.
    And finally, go read Golden! For your sake, GO! Its so good πŸ™‚

  33. Gene Ewards

    Being read to can be fun, engaging and authentic. It shows kids that reading can be emotionally powerful, and it motivates them to read more. It also introduces genres outside their usual interests and lets them hear fluent, expressive reading above their current reading level.