Reader Reviews: Inaccurate Crap or Symphony of Voices?

Posted by Jessica on August 11, 2011
In a recent Telegraph article, journalist and author Tom Payne muses on the evolving role of literary critics, positing that "reviewing has, over the years, become increasingly personal" and discusses the "phenomenon of the reader-review, the arena in which the line between crap and inaccuracy becomes all the murkier." Whether reader reviews are fully supplanting or simply complementing professional literary reviews is still shaking out, but Goodreads is certainly the front line for the rise of the reader review. We're interested in making book discussion more personal, and we encourage Payne to give reader reviews a second chance. Our strength lies not in touting any one critic, but in providing a channel for a symphony of voices.

Payne quotes a sampling of Goodreads reviews and seems to lament their lack of depth. However, I'd argue that Payne has missed the point of reader reviews. I speak mostly from my personal experience, but I'm going to hazard a guess as to how members of Goodreads use the reviews on our site. There are two primary ways:

  1. 1. Friend reviews come first. Friend reviews are delivered directly to us in regular updates, or if we view a book page, friend reviews are displayed above reviews from strangers. Take, for example, the reviews of my very smart and well-read brother, Tim. Tim often takes the time to write a thoughtful, artfully crafted review. Other times he may jot down some notes, as if he's speaking extemporaneously. Either way works for me, because, well, he's my brother, and knowing his taste and interests, I can read between the lines and get a sense of his response to the book and whether I'd like to read it myself. I don't need him to write on par with a professional literary critic—although he's fully capable of it—because I'm getting something personal out of his review.

  2. 2. Community reviews create a collage of ideas. When I finish a book, I like to visit its page on Goodreads and poke around in the reviews posted there. I skim most, but invariably a few will grab my attention and I'll read them in full. Even if you don't venture past the first page of reviews, you're sure to find someone who raves about a book, someone who despised it, and a whole lot of responses in the middle. This vast constellation of opinions coalesces to give me a robust impression of the book's reception in the Goodreads community. I may agree or disagree with (or laugh at) some of the reviews I see, but browsing reviews always helps solidify my own thoughts on the book and provoke new ideas. No one review, as Payne points out, is fully satisfying, but readers can react to the collection of opinions as a whole.

That said, I also enjoy reading professional reviews by literary critics who can provide cultural context or insight into an author's larger body of work. What do you think, Goodreads? Do you use reader reviews as I do? Do you have suggestions for ways we can help you find the most helpful reviews?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 51 (51 new)

message 1: by MissSusie (new)

MissSusie I read reviews in about the same way you do however I've never been one for literary critics and their reviews, I like reviews from everyday people and I will look at one star & five star ratings and even when I either have loved or hated a book I can usually find reviews in both segments that have valid points. As many of us in the book world know one person most favorite book is another's least favorite.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

While I possess the necessary mental accoutrements for criticism, I often prefer to write in a more yielding manner, describing my personal response to a work. Librarians use the term, “book talk”, a non-critical approach used to promote reading. A better term for what I do is “reader response”. The term comes from literary theory; it focuses on the reader’s experience as the event that completes a book. The reader response style fits better with blogging. With print media, reviews were written by authoritative literary figures; they were also relatively scarce. On the web, reviews are written by anyone; they are in abundance. More often than not, the most valuable thing I can add to the conversation about a book is my personal response, a fragment others can collect in forming their overall perception of a work.

Something I wrote as a part of this:

message 3: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Darity I am quite guilty of number 2. But my thing, if I am really feeling something (torn, confused, shock, disgust, frustration) about a book I will sneak a peak at the reviews to see if others feel the same way. If I am not liking a book and it has numerous 5-star reviews I begin to wonder what's wrong with me...not really.


message 4: by Kasia (new)

Kasia Hubbard I do read the reviews, but only after I have read a specific book, so that it does not add bias to my own impression. When I write my own review, I write my opinions about what I liked and sometimes what I didn't like about the book. What really bothers me about the reviews though is trashing someone's work. True, not every book will appeal to every reader, but there is also a common courtesy that if you don't like something, make a note of why it didn't appeal to you, but don't trash the author's hard work, nor give them low ratings if you didn't even read the whole book. That's like saying you hate fruit because you don't like the way the seeds look, even though you've never taken a bite of it. That just doesn't make sense to me at all. I guess what I find to be the most helpful reviews are those who are honest in their response. "I liked this/but didn't like this".

message 5: by Nathan (last edited Aug 11, 2011 03:24PM) (new)

Nathan Many (most) of my friends don't write full reviews. But I fully agree with point 2.

For my part, I always write reviews. I don't claim to have comprehensive knowledge of many (or even any) areas, but I do try to have my reviews place the book in question in some kind of context, even if that is just "This book was the most thorough (useful, definitive, unnecessary, etc.) on the subject that I have read", or "Good, but I wanted X,Y and Z."

I try not to read many user reviews before reading the book. I do, however, read professional reviews before reading the book. I think professionals are more apt to give an evaluation of the book, rather than a narrative summary of the contents. Does that make sense? When I read a review, I'm looking for the things that I listed: context and evaluation. A lot of "amateur" reviews are far less concerned with these overarching values and more concerned with the subjective "Did *I* like this book? Did I find subjective enjoyment in it?" Which, of course, has it's place, but doesn't necessarily convince me of the book's inherent value.

message 6: by Danielle (new)

Danielle Reviewing is, ultimately, an act based upon one's taste. Whether one happens to be a professional critic or just a casual reader, the review is going to be based upon taste. A professional critic may be more able to comment upon style, diction, subtle meanings, and a whole slew of other things he/she learned in college than the casual reviewer; however, the question remains the same: did you like the book and why? I feel the same way about professional film critics and tend to almost always disagree with their reviews.

The problem with the professionals is this--they are sort of like hipsters. If something is mainstream or popular, they downplay its worth. Professional critics will find fault with books like The DaVinci Code and Carrie because they are not "literary" and are marketed to the masses. I counter with this--if a million people like it, surely something must be good about it?

For example, I hate the Twilight books. I think they are poorly written and send a negative message to our young girls about what a healthy relationship is. That's my opinion, you may or may not agree with me. Does the fact that I have a Master's in English make my opinion any more important than yours? No. The Twilight books, like it or not, introduced a new generation to reading--they were "gateway books." That's a good thing.

I use the reviews on Goodreads or Amazon as a thermometer and I pay attention to reviewers who seem to share a similar taste in books as I, that way I can decide if I'm more or less likely to enjoy a book. I'll take recommendations from the guy behind the counter at Shop Rite just as I would from my local librarian or the NY Times review of books. It's all a matter of taste.

message 7: by Randall (new)

Randall I don't really use "reviews" to make decisions on whether I'm going to read a book or not. I do find them entertaining sometimes, however.

I DO think it would be sweet if users could define their own scale(s). Further, it'd be interesting to be able to rate books in a few different measures. One 'overall' rating is too vague to really be dependable, especially when you don't know what the user intends when they say a book is a "four-star" book. What happens for me then is that I'm automatically dismissive of any ratings on the extreme end of the spectrum, thinking there is a high likelihood the user is having an overly emotional response to the work, which is fine, but not useful for me, necessarily.

So...I would dig a system that allowed users to rate books for different characteristics. Let them define said characteristics and then, for each rating, show what other books the user game similar ratings and for the user to briefly explain the rating.

i.e. "Characters - 4/5 - Loved the protagonist, but found the antagonist somewhat unbelievable."

BAM! That little piece of information gives me a lot more to go on that having to trudge through paragraph after paragraph of plot rehashing and other useless patter. Give me a few of those strings and I can quickly make a decision on whether I'm interested in the book; even more so if I see that you said the same thing about another book's characters I've already read and felt similarly. Further, then I'm likely to follow said reviewers reviews as it would appear we read similarly.

And if you're somehow still reading this...what the hell?

message 8: by Robin (new)

Robin Spano I agree with Danielle's points. Professional critics have their own reputation to consider when reviewing, and as a result, they're one step removed from a real reader.

As a writer, I appreciate when an industry critic gives me a line I can use on my website, but I'm way more intrigued by readers' emotional reactions. These actually help me learn as a writer - because ultimately writing is an act of connecting with a reader, so I'm always trying to learn how to hone my craft and connect more powerfully. I find blog reviews and Goodreads reviews to be the two best sources for this kind of insight.

In terms of selecting which books to read, I admit I'm still more swayed by the industry reviews than a random reviewer I've never heard of. But what will really make me buy a book is when a friend or a blogger I know and respect shares the emotional experience they had while reading.

message 9: by SallyHP (new)

SallyHP Reader reviews work for the same reason book clubs do (sans the wine and chatting); it's a chance to see what other everyday people thought about the same book you did. Also, if my friends hated something, it may spur me to read it even more just to see what all the fuss is about :)

message 10: by Deborah (new)

Deborah A reader's response to any book has to be considered personal as that is the nature of the medium. Given that it is not possible for any author to be completely objective, it must follow that the book has also been writen from a personal perspective. It would follow, therefore, that a reader's review must be biased towards their own interpretation. Literary qualifications or professional standing as a critic are no more justified a means of viable reviewing than that of the 'consumer'. A reader must make a judgement on whether to read a book based on several influences, including popularity, cover, previous same author books, critical reviews and reader reviews. It is my opinion that all of these factors can be equally influential, and it is also true to say that all of these factors can be misleading. It is arrogant in the extreme to imply that a reader can be unduly influenced by the 'crap and inaccuracy' of personalised reader reviews. It suggests a lack of confidence in the reading public, which in turn points to a lack of confidence in their own work? I think a little more respect should be afforded to the users of Goodreads by Mr Payne.

message 11: by Jake (new)

Jake I do make time to read other readers' reviews. It seems only fair if I'm hoping people will read mine. However, I generally only read others reviews after I've read the book and done my write-up. It's a great way to see how my reaction compares with other readers--to challenge my own thinking.

My primary frustration is with the frequent sloppiness of many people's reviews. But that's a general concern I have with writing across all social media. Sloppy writing is an epidemic on Internet forums. I'm a big believer in the Like button to provide feedback to folks who I think give worthwhile, polished responses. My only suggestion to Goodreads would be to frequently reevaluate your method for determining how reviews/reviewers are ranked. Strive to reflect quality of writing not just the length or number of canned reviews a person can throw on the site.

Ultimately, I enjoy the forum Goodreads provides. But I have to say again, there are lots of sloppy and unhelpful reader reviews here. But that isn't your fault. It's the nature of providing a public forum. Thank you for providing one by the way!

Mιss •kαthєяίиє•  Τhε Emεrαℓd Pяίиcεss® A review is totally up to each reader. Some may hate a book and want to dig on it by writing detailed reviews while other may love a book and feel super emotional when writing a review so the end result is sometimes weird or incoherent. But the good thing at Goodreads is that everyone's review can be read- if you don't like it, don't read it. There are always good and bad reviews, that's why I thing that those "like" buttons exist- to "vote" what we liked. But at the end of the day, a review is like a "voice" from everyone who read some book. You can't expect them to be all professional, perfectly punctuated and well-detailed! Not all people are able to expess themselves that way.
That said, I believe that whatever book's review someone reads -either it's a professional's or some friend's who really hates writing long reviews- it's a good way to get better in touch with that book and discover things you wouldn't see yourself.

message 13: by Tamye (new)

Tamye I think reader reviews are a valuable tool in deciding whether you want to read a book or not, especially if the review is by someone who know or whose opinion you value.

I have added many books to my "to-read" list on GoodReads because of reader reviews and hope that my reviews have influenced a few people to read books that I like.

message 14: by Alena (new)

Alena I like the collection of reader reviews available at a book's page. With so many reading choices out there it's nice to be able to skim through reader's reactions. It's fairly easy to sift between gut reactions and reviewers who are really examining a book's merits.
Of course, just like word of mouth, most of us are likely to trust our friends' opinions more than those of the general public, but how is that really different than the voice of a literary critic. Some I trust, some I don't. And, honestly, I'm more likely to believe that the readers on Goodreads have actually read these books cover to cover, not just sifted through to make a deadline.

message 15: by Ali (new)

Ali Nicola Teresa wrote: "I love reader reviews. I find it interesting how two people can respond so differently to the same book. Reviews are my favourite part of Goodreads!"

I second that! :)

message 16: by Asra (new)

Asra Ghouse To a certain extent I would agree with Mr. Payne. personally I prefer to read a review from a neutral point of view just because it should not bias me for/against a book.

Having said that, without a personal discretion the review comes out as a mechanical one with little to interest me. Especially while reading friends' reviews at Goodreads, I like to have those personal 'crap' in those. Because that's what makes it real.

message 17: by Rose Ann (new)

Rose Ann Ali wrote: "Nicola Teresa wrote: "I love reader reviews. I find it interesting how two people can respond so differently to the same book. Reviews are my favourite part of Goodreads!"

I second that! :)"

Me too!

My reviews are mostly for my friends, and myself (for reference).

message 18: by Safae (new)

Safae I don't like to read reviews about a book before starting it because they tend to be full of spoilers even though the writers try their best not to do so , it happens constantly .
But i love reading those reviews after already reading the book , they feel so personal and real , of course i would like to read a professional review which could give me an inside sight of the author and his real intentions so i actually enjoy both

message 19: by Laura (new)

Laura Investment: as a reader, I enjoy the freedom of choosing my level of investment in both books and review writing. With some titles, I'll feel strongly enough to invest in writing a crafted review. Other titles, often books that I found to be middle-of-the-road, aren't worth the I simply post extemporaneous impressions. I don't mind sloppy reviews on goodreads. They provide clues to both reader and the work and are quick to scan/skip.

Pros vs Readers: I prefer reader reviews to professional reviews. I find Pros often have a tendency to make something of nothing - perhaps to achieve publication-worthiness? (Although, I thoroughly enjoy reading reviews written by pros/semi-pros when they have no stake in the game and are writing simply for personal or community enjoyment.) It reminds me of the cooking magazines filled with recipes calling for exotic ingredients written by professionals. Those are ok, but my most well-used recipes are those written by folks in the trenches of life experience, using commonly-at-hand ingredients that have been proven taste-worthy by their own families.

Use of Reviews:Another way I use the reviews on goodreads is to explore a trail to my next interesting read. If I was intrigued by a book, I scan the reviews to find someone of like-mindedness. Then I raid their shelves and look for other highly rated books with well-expressed impressions. Those are often the next titles to land on my to-read list. A much more reliable method than scouting the back of the book blurbs!

Reluctance: I find myself most reluctant to write reviews for books I'd rate with 1, 2, or 3 stars if they were written by a Goodreads Author. I thoroughly enjoy the goodreads community...and think it would be a bit of drag as an author in the community to have to encounter the reviews of fellow goodreaders that didn't like the book. I've sometimes found myself choosing not to post those reviews.

message 20: by Kathy (new)

Kathy I love reader reviews. I generally find if a book has below 3 stars based on a fair number of Goodreads ratings/reviews that it is probably not worth my time. If none of my friends have read the book, I like to see if other readers compare the book to things I have read or discuss generalaties like if the book is fast paced, dry, disorganized, helps me decide whether or not to read a book I'm on the fence about. Literary reviews are nice but they're not always looking at a book as a typical reader would.

Melinda The Opinionated Crackpot It's midnight. You've just finished a great (or horrible) book and there's no one awake to talk to about it. Write a review! Then read other's reviews! I may skim the reviews before reading a book if I'm not sure of it, but usually I love to read the reviews after I've read the book. I find this to be very entertaining, and I just love it when someone writes a review that says just what I was thinking!

message 22: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Delandro I originally found Goodreads when I was looking for a book description. I found this wonderful site where a wide range of people offer their opinions on the same book. I find these insights into books fasinating. Sometimes I agree with them and sometimes we spark a debate and get more people involved in our discussion. I now keep up with regular reviews of books I have read and actively watch my friends to see what they are reading. I also read critics reviews of books in the saturday newpaper, some I add to myto-read pile but most I ignore

message 23: by David (new)

David The vast majority of my reviews are 3 or 4 stars: the only time I would give a 5 star review is of the book convinced me to go out of my way to look for others by that same author. I tend to scan others, only actually reading a review by somebody I know, so have some sort of context for their opinion. Having said that, sometimes a well-written negative review by a complete stranger is also very handy (more so than a positive review)...

message 24: by Judyta (last edited Aug 13, 2011 04:27PM) (new)

Judyta Szacillo I don't really like reviews written by professional critics. Far too often they are intentionally written to focus readers' attention on the person of the reviewer, not the book itself. In an outburst of witticisms and a show-off of intellectualism the subject of the review is quite often almost forgotten. One cannot help a feeling that the reviewer tries to compete with the book. Readers' reviews are more genuine - of course, there are plenty of reviews that don't really contribute much to our knowledge about the book, they are often shallow or they simply give no explanations to presented views - but there are also many that are good, thorough, interesting and FOCUSED ON THE BOOK, not on presenting oneself as a better (or at least equally good) writer than the one who wrote the book.

message 25: by Tina (new)

Tina I rely heavily on reader's reviews. I use them to determine if I want to purchase the book. I also use them whenI am deciding what book to read next in on my tbr list. Since I rely on reviews I try to write a review for every book I finish. This is because I want to help the next reader out. I try to write what I would want to know if I was reading the review.

I love the goodreads community and come here often when I want to know what the majority of readers think about a certain book. I agree with the others...I like to read the reviews after I complete the book.

message 26: by Tina (new)

Tina TownCrackpot wrote: "It's midnight. You've just finished a great (or horrible) book and there's no one awake to talk to about it. Write a review! Then read other's reviews! I may skim the reviews before reading a bo..."

I totally agree. Often times I can't find anyone available to tell about how I felt about the book! What a great way to get it off your chest!

message 27: by Shelby (new)

Shelby I prefer reading Goodreads users reviews than professional ones. The Goodreads community really tells me what the average person thinks about the book.

Think of it in movie terms. I never really believe film reviewers who write for the NY Times or other newspapers, because they go to the movie and watch it because it's their job to analyze and nitpick every single detail. But the average person doesnt--they go to watch and enjoy.

In this sense, Goodreads tells me the real truth because the reviews are from the everyday person rather than the professional critic whose "reading palette" is a little to narrow.

message 28: by Deborah (new)

Deborah How arrogant of Chris (Message 27) to describe all Goodreads reviewers as sixth-graders. How droll indeed! I think Chris likes to think he is being controversial but he is just succeeding in being bad mannered.

message 29: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Chris - Well, I bow to superior knowledge. If you weren't being so insulting, you might actually be someone to whom I would listen.

Melinda The Opinionated Crackpot How wonderful! Thank you Chris and Deborah for giving such a great example of why Goodreads reviews by the public are such a good idea! I can voice my opinion, and read other opinions without haughty observations about my intelligence. Just friend-to-friend opinions, which may differ, but without intimidating remarks.

message 31: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Which brings us full-circle back to Judyta's remark about 'show-off intellectualism'. I rest my case.

message 32: by Robin (new)

Robin Spano Chris, are you a reviewer?

message 33: by Deborah (new)

Deborah I feel your pain Chris. Well, given that your very select community of professional reviewers is totally outnumbered by the 'cankering masses' of 'commoners' without any 'intellectual acumen' who post their views on Goodreads,why are you bothering with our views?

message 34: by Judyta (last edited Aug 14, 2011 05:59PM) (new)

Judyta Szacillo Chris wrote: "
So you're saying you prefer a book report from a sixth-grader or an overly arching bit of banality from the cankering masses. How droll. "

In a way, I do indeed. Because when I see it, I know it's a review written by a sixth-grader, or by a specialist in the field, or by an educated reader with high expectations - and this variety of opinions on different levels of perception tells me more about the book than a review written by someone who writes reviews for living.

Chris wrote: "Book reviewing is a genre"

And you confirm exactly what I have written - that professional reviewers are more focused on producing a new piece of literature rather than on the book itself.

message 35: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Chris, I agree without reservation that 'writing will always be the means by which the soul is transported'. Yet by it's nature, is not exclusive. It is open to the masses to try, to fail, to try again (with apologies to Samuel Beckett). In the hyper-reality that is today, one seeks an escape beyond the mundanity of life. Words are that escape. And the interpretation of those words or the creation of those words cannot be held by just the few.

"The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails." James Joyce

The written word is too precious to own it. Set it free.

message 36: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Yes. Fidelity to one's art is noble. It is true unselfishness. In a sense. To those on the periphery, however, is seems utterly selfish. It appears uncompromising, in a world where compromise is required in many other fields.

It is interesting that you use the word 'born' in relation to the Great American Novel. I see the written word as the offspring of the author - very precious to them, maybe not so appealing to others, but deserving of a certain respect regardless.

I sense your passion for what you do. I absolutely admire that. I also have a deep, deep love of the written word. What divides us (aside from the Atlantic Ocean) is, perhaps, a lack of agreement on the nature of cogent reviewing. You are a professional in your field. I am an autodidact. It would be foolish of me to imagine myself to have your skills. I feel no doubt, however, that my interpretation/review of a work of fiction is equally valid with yours. If not, books would be written solely with critics in mind and that is surely not what the sculptor had intended while creating a work of art?

message 37: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Chris - I wonder if you would accept my review of your own writing? Your use of words in the positive is exquisite. You have inspired me.

message 38: by Hirondelle (new)

Hirondelle For me it is even another issue. I am trusting less and less "professional" or blogger reviews. I would rather hear some honest opinions, even if some are shallow, than formal reviews. First I do not trust reviewer will call a spade and spade and say outloud when a book is bad, second, formal reviews can often be very predicted - synopsis (which either tells me what is on item description or might tell me more than I want to know about plot) again and again and the same clichés of reviewing.

And I am getting more and more cynical all the time about reviews. A recent very eagerly expected fantasy bestseller had marvelous media reviews, while goodreads user seem to have been much more critical - my opinion was also critical and I saw much deeper analysis of why the book was not good (it was not, IMO) on GR than on any review by big papers or other authors.

message 39: by Jesi (new)

Jesi Added to what Hirondelle said (which I agree with completely) there's also a final aspect of why I'd prefer to read a "commoner's" review over a professional one: Pomposity. I, personally, have found that the commoner is far more likely to use common phrasing over flowery prose or buzzwords. Both of which tend to mangle the point trying to be expressed.

message 40: by Laura (last edited Aug 16, 2011 04:54PM) (new)

Laura Jesi wrote: "Added to what Hirondelle said (which I agree with completely) there's also a final aspect of why I'd prefer to read a "commoner's" review over a professional one: Pomposity. I, personally, have fou..."
Pomposity. Now that's a great word! =)

message 41: by Jesi (new)

Jesi @Chris - See, here I was, happily ignoring the token troll on the boards, but you've targeted me out. Now, I have a few options. I can A) Continue to ignore you, realizing that I really do have better things to do than engage in something as futile as an internet disagreement (like sleep,) B) write back in an attempt to have an intelligent conversation - which, as I've already labeled you as "troll," demonstrates my idea of the likelihood of this happening, or C) try to one-up you in the method of fighting that you're choosing to engage in - my aforementioned word: Pomposity.

Seeing as I have a good book to read, and half an hour before I need to go to bed, I'm choosing option A, with a caveat: You have demonstrated naught but bad manners on this board so far. The only reviews on your profile are negative. The few comments you have associated with you on other threads are foul mouthed and likewise negative. In short, you seem a very disagreeable and uninteresting person who takes delight in hating. The self-importance you place on yourself is probably the only importance you have. Certainly you have none from me.

Go away, little troll. Go away.

message 42: by Judyta (last edited Aug 17, 2011 02:58AM) (new)

Judyta Szacillo Chris wrote: "Yes, you do so further my point. Left to the rabble of the coffee clutch, the babble at the water cooler, the Book Club cadence that reduces disparate thoughts into one cohesive mantra, why yes I do so believe the Rockwell Effect may take place. Here now, in another medium, is what will become of the commoner's review.

The Painter Norman Rockwell captured a similitude of horror that resonates in his documenting of towns and burghs. Each of his works is a master stroke of banality, though that was not his intent, which of course makes his efforts that more interestingly delusional in his pursuit of capturing Small America.

Where is the seed of originality or inspiration in such a repetitive rendering of America’s small towns such as train stations that are stationary, the locomotive in the foreground is meant to pose not to move and too his caricature of characters, who as a lot, seem to know they are being painted and live that moment only for the brushstroke and rather uniformly they are attired whether it be a military uniform, business suit or to go full circle, the uniform of a filling station attendant.

This transparent technique passes muster and is accepted wholeheartedly by the terrible masses who, down to a one, allow this charade to pass for slice of life America homage.

And so too goes the citizen review, if allowed to happen.

Words: 236. Communication: 0.

Your self-contentment has, in my opinion, no grounds whatsoever. No one told you yet that substance is at least equally important as form?

message 43: by Jesi (last edited Aug 17, 2011 03:51AM) (new)

Jesi So, I think we're all pretty much agreed that Reader Reviews = A Good Thing(TM). How do you guys normally sift through them? Do you ignore the ones that seem to be full of typographical errors? Do the ones with pictures turn you off? Also, when choosing which book to read next, does the average rating at all influence you?

I know that, for me, just as it impacts all other things that I read on the internet, if it's full of typographical errors, I tend to discredit what's being said. Now, maybe I'm being overly picky, but I just think that on a site that's dedicated to reading, books, words and writing, one would *want* their posts to be as clear as possible. I do have to admit that I like the pretty pictures in reviews, though. **shameface** Many of them can be quite entertaining. And, lastly, if I'm having a hard time deciding between two books, I usually go with whatever book has a greater average review. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

EDIT: Also, I just read the OP's linked article about Tom Payne. Is it just me, or does the man seem particularly thin skinned and lashing out?

message 44: by Judyta (new)

Judyta Szacillo Jesi wrote: "How do you guys normally sift through them? Do you ignore the ones that seem to be full of typographical errors? Do the ones with pictures turn you off? Also, when choosing which book to read next, does the average rating at all influence you?"

Yes, I do look at the average rating, although it is not something that I fully trust. I look for longer reviews - comments like "it's fantastic", "boring", "I never read it" are not too helpful, obviously ;-) When I see a review that catches my attention, I go even further and look at the reviewer's profile to see what he/she likes to read, how he/she rated the books I know etc. When I see a review that I find really interesting, written by a person that reads things I also like, I send an invitation to be friends so I can follow the reviewer. I don't like reviews that are messy, written in bad style or too florid and pompous, full of spelling or grammar mistakes, overexcited or too harsh, because I find extreme opinions less reliable.

message 45: by Hirondelle (new)

Hirondelle The best way to sift reviews is through friends and people you follow reviews (which is why I am picky about "friends" requests). Then I often like to filter reviews by number of stars (with text) and take a look. The mystery algorithm for goodreads sort is OK, though i wish there was another extra way of sorting reviews, by number of likes - I think the secret algorithm gives a big weight to length and I do not always like the longer reviews, often the reviews with most likes are further down the page and are more interesting.

And a confession : I hate reviews with images, I wish I could filter those out. (0.1% of the times the images are interesting and add to contents. But 99.9% of the times use of images is just a symptom of trying too hard to get people´s attention "look at my review")

message 46: by Judyta (new)

Judyta Szacillo Chris wrote: "How easily you deceive yourself, your thoughts and opinions are irrelevant. You have no depth and dwell in the realm of the superficial. "

Translation: I like reading things that are something more than meaningless pseudo-poetical prattle.

EOT for me, I can see you have no means of better understanding and no willingness to acquire any. Discussion with you is pointless.

message 47: by Jesi (new)

Jesi @Judyta - Can we be flowers together? I like orchids.

message 48: by Judyta (new)

Judyta Szacillo OK, you can be an orchid, I want to be a lilac flower. Luckily, the field of people who like to see words used in order to communicate, not to prattle, is not as empty and lonely as some would wish it to be ;-)

message 49: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Castillo I think that like a lot of new-media, there's going to be some backlash at the democratization of book reviews. But I also think that eventually, professional book reviewers will become a little more like us, and we'll become a little more like them and we'll all find our niches and everyone will sing kumbaya. ;)

message 50: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl I love one of the themes running through this thread, expressed most directly by Robin in post 9. We're "real readers" and professional critics (including, according to some, bloggers) are not.

To a certain extent, I agree. I also totally agree with Jessica's post. I, personally, don't like professional reviews. Those books I have read based on such sources have *not* turned out to be books that I've enjoyed, or felt illuminated by.

GoodReads community reviews are indeed a "symphony" and a "collage" of perspectives. More interesting, and more enlightening, in my opinion. At the very least they are complementary to those of the divas.

« previous 1
back to top