Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why a #Book #Review Should Not Be Your Final Basis in Choosing a Book

As I write another set of reviews for my second blog, SLS (SittieCates Loves Stories), these thoughts came to me in a quiet unobtrusive manner: There are some books that will find its way to your heart as you read page after page of its tale. You embrace the sheer delight of digesting its words – occasionally trying to emulate the emotions as you try the words with your lips. You find yourself gripped with a burning sensation to continue. There is no question about it: You simply fall in love with the book. Other books linger in your mind—hours after you have read it—not because you like it, but because you strongly detested it that you have to rant about your experience to someone willing to listen to your complaints.

As you can see, not all books that you peruse will rightfully be among your all-time favorites. But how would you know which is the best book for you?

This is where reviews come in handy. However, as I've often reiterated at my SLS blog, one has to remember that book reviews are often echoed from one's own perspective. This simply means that a person's preference shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of your own reading preference, too. You may, in fact, have a different reading preference.

To help illustrate my point, let's see how some reviews are done.

 Note: These are just examples I've concocted and are not based on real reviews, but they also carry similar meanings to the ones written on blogs, online book retailers, etc.

One: Cover

Favorable: “Oh my gosh! This book's cover just grabbed my attention. I have to read it!” THAT was my initial reaction when I saw this book entitled blah-blah-blah (title).

Unfavorable: Who would ever bother reading blah-blah-blah (title)? I wish the author asked for my services. I could've offered an inexpensive service and provided him with a breathtaking cover... instead of... instead of THIS! It looks completely dreadful!

Two: Layout

Favorable: I like the book's layout. Everything looks balanced–text and images blended well. 5 stars!

Unfavorable: As an author myself, who have published a number of books on my own, I could've shouted at the author while he was fixing this, and told him to move this part over there, fix this damn layout, and make it look really professional. Why didn’t he bother to fix it before having it published? I didn’t like it. So, who would?

Three: Particular Scenes That Had Affected the Reader

Favorable: I particularly like the way he took charge of the situation and helped take care of her kids. It was amusing to see how their love just sort of fell into place. I wish I would meet a guy like that.

Unfavorable:  I can't believe I paid my hard-earned money and took the time to read blah-blah-blah! The characters were totally boring in a particular scene when they could've done more to show each other their true affection. What I can't understand is why she has to be so reserved? What a boring love life! If I see them in real life, I wouldn't think twice in giving them a hard slap on their faces until they come to their senses.

Four: Readability Score (includes plot and other elements of the story)

Favorable: I like the plot. It is well-written, the scenes were described beautifully, and the author had created well developed characters. Kudos to the author for doing a magnificent job! Definitely a 5-star material! Well done! I look forward to reading the next part of the series.

Unfavorable: There were lots of misspelled words, grammatical errors that I just couldn't make myself finish reading the tale. There were scenes that were a bit slow and dragging. Some were confusing because so many characters were being introduced all at once. I couldn't keep up with all the confusion and glaring errors.

Some reviews would have one or two of the above; others would focus on only one topic that the reviewer felt strongly about. And, even more interesting to note is that some would write a good review and forgive the author for committing a few errors because the reader saw that there was a lot of substance in the plot and it was really an engaging tale. Others would love a book so much even if the story is somehow “slight” or completely devoid of substance, but contains no grammatical errors, misspelled words or formatting errors.

See how interesting things can be when you look at it this way? :-)

In whatever manner the review may be written, as you can see from the above examples, reviews are more about what a particular reader likes or doesn't favor at all. So don't take it as the final judgment and condemn a particular book because you've read a bad review about it. Or, you bought a book on a whim because so-and-so said that it was the best he/she has read in his or her entire life. You may be surprised to know that even some bestsellers receive one-star reviews and some books that do not carry much substance at all get 5-star reviews. But there are also books that have been rightfully given a good review with the appropriate number of stars for its overall rating.

So, in other words, don't be too quick to agree. You may read reviews if it’s what you want, but don’t make them your final basis on what book to read. Instead, go for what you prefer. Who knows? Perhaps, you'll have a different view if you would take the time to read the same book that the reviewer said was so badly- or brilliantly written. Perhaps not. Only you would have to be the judge for that.

In the end, reviews—whether bad or good—still serve a purpose: These things support the author and encapsulate the overall experience of the reader. It's up to the interested/curious reader to buy the book and check if the reviews that are there for all the virtual community to see may be in line with what he/she may think after he/she is done reading the book.

These are my musings for today. What about you? Do you read books because you’re really interested in doing so or were you just curious to check it out because you’ve read a review about it? I’d like to know your thoughts on this.

Happy reading and reviewing books! I hope you're having a wonderful week. I am, but I'm still coughing. Not that frequently now… Thank goodness! It only occurs at night. It’s a viral infection. It should be gone in a few days. Well, it should because it’s been hanging around in my system for days! They say it’s because of the drastic changes of the weather. Anyway, I’ve upped my intake of vitamins to help boost my health. Later, I’m going to take a long walk at the park. Gosh! I missed that. So, yes, I am having a wonderful week. :-) Virtual *HUGS* to all! I'll see you next post. 


M. J. Joachim said...

Book reviews are important, but they should never be the deciding factor for someone who chooses to read a book. Books speak to individuals differently. One man's junk is another's treasure. Book reviews should be considered guidelines, imo. However, if enough people love or hate a book, then it would probably be wise to consider the reasons why, and make a more educated decision before purchasing the book in question.

Aileen A said...

I usually choose books based on content. I browse the table of contents, book summary and then skim through the pages. Those are what makes me put down the book or hold on to it. When I do find books that I like, I look for other works of that author.

Book reviews are great, to get a general feel of how the readers respond to the book/s. These are helpful, particularly if the book is a novel or fictional in nature, since some of them don't have chapter titles and table of contents. I guess, one should learn to read between the lines when it comes to book reviews. :-)

SittieCates said...

M.J. Joachim === Yes, an educated decision is best. Thanks for dropping by, M.J.!

Aileen A === Good point, sis. Content, based on your reading preference, is truly key in choosing a book.

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