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Why Do You Read Book Reviews?

Discussion: Why Do you Read Book Reviews?

Why Do You Read Book Reviews?

(Assuming of course that you actually do ;-) )

The driving force behind most book blogs is book reviews. Most of us came into book blogging because we wanted to write reviews of the books we read, and then we discovered all the other cool types of posts that people write as well (including discussions, yey!). Not all book reviews are going to appeal to you, however, and I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves skimming reviews in the reader or clicking to the new blog without commenting. What makes people comment is a whole other discussion, but I’m wondering why you read a book review. What draws you in and keeps your eyeballs on the page when there are so many other things you could be reading as well. Sure, you might not read every word, but most words counts as reading in this Internet age, right? ;-) I will be the first to admit that I am rather picky when it comes to book reviews. There are so many of them posted every day that I probably don’t read as many as I should. I’m curious from a book reviewer’s perspective what makes you want to read a review, and I’m curious from a reader’s perspective to see if I’m the odd one out on this front, haha.

The pretty cover catches your eye?

I’m a sucker for nice covers, especially when it grabs my imagination for what the book could contain. Magical looking effects on covers make me immediately hopeful that the book is an awesome fantasy, which keeps me reading the review to find out if my hopes will be correctly founded. If the cover isn’t striking, I often find myself less motivated to read the review. This is unfortunate because perhaps it’s a “don’t judge the book by its cover” moment where the book is actually really awesome. This also causes me problems when a book that is in my preferred genres doesn’t have a cover that evokes that genre in my mind because I might miss out on a great sci-fi book review because I didn’t know it was sci-fi….

Your favorite genre?

Speaking of sci-fi :D. I love it when people include the genre in the info about the book since I read pretty exclusively sci-fi and fantasy. If I can easily tell that a book belongs to one of my favorite genres, I’m much more likely to continue reading about the reviewer’s thoughts to see if it is a book I should check out. This also contributes to me skipping reviews when the cover and/or genre classification suggests I wouldn’t like the book based on genre. No offense to anyone, but I just don’t like contemporary and romance as much as others, so I’m not likely to read a review on a book in those genres.

You’ve read it and want to discuss?

It’s pretty fun to discuss a book with other book bloggers, that’s part of why we are book bloggers after all, right?? I’ve been most into reading reviews on books that I’ve already read and had strong opinions on because I want to discuss. However, I’ve realized that if the reviewer had completely different feelings than I did, I shy away from reading the review. This is for two reasons really: if the reviewer liked the book more than I did, I get all judgy (working on it, promise!) and if the reviewer liked it less than I did, I get all wounded (also working on it D: ). When opinions are too extremely different, it just doesn’t feel like a good idea to comment since I worry about angering someone.

However, if we have fairly similar feelings about the book, then it’s fun to fangirl together (or fanboy, guys welcome!). Comments seem like a fairly safe place to discuss the slightly spoilery things that don’t get included in a review, especially with the vague terms like “omg the ending right??” since you both know what you’re talking about, but it doesn’t give too much away, haha. This aspect of reading/commenting makes me want to read the popular books, since it seems that then I can engage in more of this.

A book you haven’t heard of?

When you see a review for a book that is new to you, do you get drawn in to find out more, or do you tune out and move on? I find myself a bit overwhelmed with all the books out there I haven’t heard of, but one of my favorite parts of book blogging is finding out about new books. I have to see several reviews for a book generally though before I start paying attention. This is something I’m worried is a bad habit, but a book has to look pretty freaking amazing for me to pay attention on the first review. Or it has to be a review from one of my top ten book bloggers, since there are some bloggers whose recommendation immediately hits me. I think between new to me books and books I’ve read, new to me books are more likely to be skipped over, though there are also a lot more of those reviews, so it probably evens out percentage-wise…. Or maybe it doesn’t, I don’t want to count, haha! *hides away*

So, I hope I haven’t disappointed you too much D: But I really want to know what are the factors for you. Why do you read book reviews? What draws you in or turns you away from a review? While commenting is a whole other discussion (have I written that post yet? I can’t remember, oh my brain), I’m also interested if there is anything that pushes you to comment on a review more or less.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -Anya

© 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads says:

    I tend to mostly only read reviews for books that I’ve already read, because then I won’t accidentally get spoiler and because I can actually talk about it without just being like “Yeah I want to read this!”. You know? I like for my comment to be more meaningful than just a “Glad you liked this”. So if I’ve read it, I can talk more about it.

    Occasionally I will read a review for a book I want to rad, but it has to be something I won’t read for a long time, so I have time to forget anything and won’t have that person’s impressions of the book.

    • I completely understand the commenting problem. I will sometimes comment that I want to read a book because of a review, but it has to be pretty darn exciting, since otherwise it just doesn’t seem worth it. I have the problem that I don’t seem to read what other people review as much, so there are few reviews that I can discuss the book I’ve read on D:

      • Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads says:

        Yeah, that’s understandable. When you stick to only a few genres, it can kind of limit the reviews for books you might have read. I like all genres (although there are a couple I prefer) and tend to circulate through them, So I’ve read a lot!

  2. I don’t really read book reviews when they’re posted, unless it is by one of my favorite bloggers. What usually happens is I will think about reading a book and I will search for reviews to see what other people think.

    • That’s a great strategy and that’s what I use through Goodreads generally. I always check the blogger friend reviews on Goodreads when I’m in the bookstore!

  3. I use book reviews as a prescreening process. I’ll shamelessly admit that I let others do my dirty work, Anya!

    • Haha, that’s what we’re here for right! I think most of us are thrilled when our book reviews help someone else choose only books they like, it makes me all warm and fuzzy :D

  4. The things that make me read a book review are usually whether it’s a book I’ve already read (and I want to see how the reviewer’s opinion compares to my own, and this also usually gets me commenting on the blog when I’m done reading the review), a book I want to read (so I can see the general consensus as to whether it’s still worth buying when I can — I may or may not comment on these reviews, depending on whether or not I think I might have anything to add to the conversation), or if they’re written on a blog on which I read pretty much everything (few and far between, I admit, but there are some reviewers whose opinions and tastes match mine quite a bit and so I figure that even if haven’t heard of the book they’re reviewing, chances are I’ll feel the same way about it that they did and I want to know what they have to say).

    I admit that I could probably discover many more awesome books if I read more reviews in my prefered genre, whether or not I think I might be interested (I won’t lie, I have discovered a few books this way, through pure chance), but, well, there are only so many hours in the day, and it’s habit by now to stick to my usual method of bog coverage.

    Great discussion question, and it was interesting to see how other people handle things too!

    • I also feel that I could find a lot more books to read if I spent more time with reviews, but then I realize that I am already buried in books to read, so I don’t actually need to add more to that list, hehe. I actually think I’m avoiding some reviews for that reason, I don’t want to add to my TBR guilt!

      • Haha, I know that feeling all too well! There are some reviews that have made me really REALLY want some recent releases, and then I think that I have so many ARCs to get through, and I just feel even greater regret that even if I could get these awesome books, it would be hard to find the time to read them!

        Not that it’ll stop me, as soon as I get the money for some of them. Must have more books!

  5. sherry butcher says:

    1. not a petty cover but an interesting one.
    2. my favorite genre
    3. the review says it a good book
    4. New book or set of books.
    5. I won’t read the review’s excerpt with anything is spoiler-related.
    6. if the is review really really long I will usually skim

  6. Haha all of these? Plus publisher information. I always check to see if the publisher is listed, and if it’s not I look it up on Goodreads. I’m a publisher snob :S I love reading reviews of books I’ve already read so I can discuss them with the fellow blogger! Ranting about books that you both loved is the best feeling in the world, and it’s why I got into book blogging, because before that I didn’t have people in my life who would talk about books with me :)

    • Totally acceptable! Oo publishers, completely forgot about that one. I actually only just started paying attention to publishers of books at all, hehe.

  7. I definitely am guilty of judging books by their cover! I don’t judge based on genre very much, since I’ll read almost any genre.There are a few I’ll pass on though. My biggest thing is that a book review shouldn’t spend too much time recapping the plot and if it’s going to be long, it needs to be engaging or funny. I guess I have an internet generation attention span :)

    I’ll avoid reading reviews of books I’m going to review soon to avoid biasing my own review and agree with you completely about how much fun it is to get a chance to discuss books you’ve already read.

    • I am so genre judgmental *hides* I’ve tried to read other genres, but I just never end up liking the setting etc. I guess I chose my blog genres well, hehe. I generally prefer the book synopsis from Goodreads or something, so that I can get an idea of the tone of the book and the plot. If there are many paragraphs devoted to recapping, I get bored :(

  8. Great discussion topic! I think we all tend to skip reviews from time to time…or when we get overwhelmed or behind. I’m definitely drawn to attractive covers too – especially if they seem magical or of the sci-fi variety :D New to me books in those genres will grab my attention to because I want to know more about said book and figure out if I think I’ll like it/ if it’s worth adding to my TBR. I also ADORE discussion a book I’ve read with other bloggers but if our impressions of it are vastly opposite, I tend to shy away from commenting too – unless the blogger makes interesting points I hadn’t thought of before and it makes me think…then I have to comment >.< All things considered I just love reading reviews from like-minded and trusted bloggers, whether they're books I have read, want to read or still haven't discovered yet!

    • Great point, if the reviewer points out things that I hadn’t thought of and that’s why we had different experiences, I like reading and commenting on that. If it’s just a difference of opinion, I get scared of confrontation, haha.

  9. I am more for book reviews about books I have already read. I don’t like to read ones on books I haven’t read and really want to read because I am afraid of spoilers. I do stop by books though that have amazing covers. There are a few blogs that just write such great reviews that I will read all their reviews whether I have read the book or not.

    • Spoilers for ever scare me, true!

      Hehe, I have to admit gifs drag me in to reviews too if they are entertaining >.>

  10. I generally go on covers first of all, and ignore reviews where I don’t like the covers – usually because I can tell what genre the book is and I’m not a fan of that genre.

    Then I just pick at random really. Sometimes I’ll read a review the whole way through, sometimes I’ll skim, and other times I won’t get further than the first paragraph.

    I find reviews a great way of discovering new books, since I follow bloggers writing about a range of genres.

    • I hope that books always have the correct covers for the genres otherwise I will probably never discover them, there are just so many book reviews to read!

      Hehe, randomness is the best. It completely depends on my mood too, which is rather random. If I’m in a curious mood, I’ll read lots of reviews, if I’m just zoning out… :-/

  11. The first thing that will make me read a review, is if it’s a book I’ve already read and want to see what they thought, or if it’s a book I want to read and want their opinion on if I should still read it. The covers usually draw me to a book too, especially if I haven’t heard of it before. If it’s a series book that I plan to read soon though, I won’t read the review in case anything is spoiler-related.
    As for turn-offs, if the is review really really long I will usually skim. I don’t need a whole synopsis of what happened again and specific details, just their opinions on it.

    • Yeah, I can’t stick with long reviews ever! I just want to know what they thought, hehe. This is also reflected in my style I’m sure ;-)

  12. Great post.

    I definitely read reviews of books I’ve read just to see how other people felt about them. It does make me sad when people hate books I loved, but I still like seeing why.
    I also love reading reviews of books I want to read or covers that stick out or titles I’ve heard of just to see what sort of reaction is happening. I like to find out if new hyped books are worth it or not worth it.

    I do read reviews all of the time and I particularly enjoy friending fellow bloggers on goodreads so their reviews show up under books that I look at. It’s helpful to see what they think. When I read a book, I skim reviews to see how other people felt about the book and if there are any issues I’d like to discuss in my review. If I love a book and reviewers hate certain things that I loved, I’ll make it a point to talk about it.

    And sometimes, I loved or hated a book and can’t quite put my finger on WHAT IT WAS that I hated and I’ll read other reviews to see if perhaps someone else felt the same way and can help me figure out my own thoughts.

    The reviews I read least often are ones that I don’t recognize. New titles by new authors are typically ones I skip when I look at my feed or email, unless something in the preview or title catches my eye. Or the cover does. Or I really love the blogger and want to devour all of their reviews.

    Every so often, when I don’t post much other than reviews, I wonder why I bother at all bc my blog is sooo quiet. My reviews don’t get the comments that EVERY other type of post does and I realize that I don’t always look at other reviews as often as I’d like, either. Much like hops and memes, I’m anxious to check out other people’s answers to the same questions I answered and see other people’s reviews of books I’m familiar with.. and other people are probably the same way. But I realize that my reviews won’t always get immediate attention, but someone somewhere might stumble upon it when they’re ready to read it, much like I do when I’m looking for specific book reviews.

    • If I’ve seen the book reviewed a lot, I definitely like to figure out if the hype is worth it, agreed.

      Yes, I love getting bloggers reviews at the top of Goodreads, since I tend to only pay attention to those over the random strangers that could be the author’s friend or worst enemy, ha

      Reviews are the toughest to get comments on I think, which makes me a little sad given the purpose of most of our blogs

  13. Asti (A Bookish Heart) says:

    The only reviews I tend to read are the ones I’ve already read. I want to participate in the discussion about a book, and feel like most of the times with books I haven’t read the only type of comment I can leave is “Yay, so glad you liked this! Added it to my wishlist” or “I’m sorry this wasn’t a good one for you. At least you saved me the suffering!” It just feels like copying and pasting. But, I am sort of a book rebel in the book blogging world as in I didn’t start my blog to write reviews and I don’t consider my blog a review blog. It has reviews, yes, but it’s focus is discussions and just talking about books, not reviewing them. *Shrug*

    • So agreed. I only write those comments if I really have specifically added a book because of the review. I want the blogger to know that their review made a difference in my reading choices, hehe. Oo, I didn’t know that about your blog. That’s awesome though, I like discussions better than reviews often *hides*

      • Asti (A Bookish Heart) says:

        Ha, no need to hide! I think a lot of us do book reviews because that’s what’s expected, but really it can be hard. I mean, people say they do book blogging to talk about books, but then they don’t want their books to be spoilerific, so really how talkative can you get? Usually the points you want to talk about deal with spoilers and can’t be discussed without huge warnings or through more private media. Things like discussions give us a chance to yak like we want without having to worry! ;)

  14. Since I look at updates through a feedreader I can’t even see the book covers. I rarely read reviews – mostly, it’s of a book I’ve read before and I want to add a comment. I also will read it if someone uses a creative title for their blog post – sometimes it’s a quote, and sometimes it’s something witty added to the book title.

    • Your feedreader doesn’t show the covers?? When switching from google reader, I want with The Old Reader because it shows the full post and all graphics, otherwise I would never read any posts, gotta have the pretty pictures, hehe.

  15. Great discussion! And you’re right, I did start blogging because I wanted to write reviews, and I was honestly planning at first to make this a reviews only blog (which I now realize would have been totally lame). Personally, I read reviews based on common criteria, stuff such as (you’re right) the covers, and though I do feel guilty sometimes when I skim past books with possible potential but plain covers, I just can’t help it! I really feel drawn to pretty books, even if I’ve never heard of them before. I also pay attention to the title, which can tell me a lot about the story and genre (which I also consider, though I love anything YA, really). Sometimes, I also pay attention to the author, especially when they’re familiar ones with great works I know of, and it does play a great role in my interest when it’s a book I’ve read before. I really do love getting to discuss and share my thoughts, though like you, I avoid commenting on reviews that go against mine. Haha! Most of the time however, it’s the blogger himself that makes me click on a link. It’s easy to familiarize with a blogger’s writing style, so I tend to click on the ones that have always gotten me intrigued :D

    • My mind was pretty blown when I realized there were things that went on book blogs other than book reviews >.>

      I think my RSS reading habit makes it a little harder for me to pick out blogger voices, since I rarely see all the blog design and such that go with a post, just the text and pictures. There are a couple of blog voices I could pick out, but mostly I just end up scrolling through hundreds of posts without registering with who wrote it unless I decide to comment, haha

  16. Carmen Brack says:

    Great discussion question! I also find myself skipping reviews sometimes when my feed is in overload, but if it’s a book I feel on the fence about (judging from the synopsis) I always keep an eye out for reviews. And I agree, I love discussing about books I’ve also read, sharing opinions and vague references to things that happen while trying not to be spoilery ^^
    Sometimes I skip if it’s a book I have for review because I don’t want others’ reviews to change my perception of the book before I start reading it myself. Or if it’s a book I want to read anyway, for similar reasons. I’ve not enjoyed books as much as I might have because I read a couple negative reviews mixed with the positive ones and that made me more critical than I really wanted to be.
    To be honest it also depends on the blogger. Some blogs I follow have great other content but the reviews are a tad on the short/vague side or too summary-ish.
    And of course I love discovering new books! Especially if they’re by self-pubbed authors, reviews are some of the only ways to find out about them because you won’t find them at stores.

    • I’ve been struggling with deciding when it’s okay for me to read a review on a book I’m going to review. If it’s far enough out, I have utter confidence in my ability to completely forget I read a review at all. If I have my notes down but I haven’t written up the review yet (and therefore will be soon), I have to avoid. This sucks because that’s the exact time when I want to chat about the book with people since I just finished it, hehe. I just need to get better at typing up reviews right away >.>

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