This is a periodic discussion feature here at Snuggly Oranges about the many problems one can run into as a book nerd.
#16. Keeping Yourself Unbiased
There’s quite a bit of pressure here in the book blogging world to connect with as many bloggers as you can and communicate with them frequently, particularly in the comments section on your blogs. Some people, for that matter, are extremely vigilant about this, and when they decide to follow a blog, they’ll read and comment on every single post that blog churns out. I know these people exist, because some of them follow me. ♥
Now I follow blogs too and I will read some/most of their posts (though admittedly I’m still horrible at commenting to show it). But here comes a somewhat risky confession…
I rarely read book reviews.
It has happened often enough in the past. I decide I want to read a book, and then someone tells me, or I find in a review somewhere, that the writing is absolutely beautiful. Or, that there’s horrible instalove. Or, that there are world building plot holes. When I do pick up that book and start to read it, assuming that there isn’t too large a time gap, my mind is automatically more attuned to these things that I heard from other people. I’ve been told the writing is beautiful. So I read more carefully, paying particularly attention to it. Or worse, I convince myself the writing is beautiful because it’s been identified as beautiful by others, even though, to me, it didn’t stand out that much at all.
And as someone who reviews books herself, these ideas automatically find their way into my reviews. Sometimes I feel this happening, and I frown. Because my review seems unoriginal. It’s not like I’m plagiarizing their review, but their thoughts were in my head as I read the book, and ultimately I’ll be more likely to make the same points in my review. Though I always manage to give my reviews my own voice, can I be sure my opinion would have been the same if I hadn’t heard anything about the book before I read it?
I like going into books not knowing.
*cough* I’m drifting towards the dramatics. I’m okay. So anyway. I try to keep myself unbiased, and that’s the explanation if you’re wondering why I haven’t been around to read or comment on that review you just posted. But I don’t never read reviews. Reviews I will read will broadly fall into one of the following categories:
- Reviews of books I’ve already read.
- Reviews of books I’m absolutely not likely to read that I may get some amusement out of (i.e. that would be your Hush, Hushes, your Fallens, your T-Rex Troubles, etc.).
- Reviews of books that I’m hearing about for the first time ever.
- I hear about a book. I look it up on Goodreads and read the synopsis.
- I look at friends’ ratings. If there are enough trusted opinions that all give it 4-5 stars and the synopsis appeals to me, it goes on my to-read list and I likely won’t read a single review.
- If I’m not sure after broadly seeing the opinions on it, I may skim read a couple reviews from trusted opinions and that way determine if it’s something for me.
- At this point, I will avoid reading anything about the books that I have decided to read. A rare exception to the rule would be if a bookish twin unexpectedly disliked said book. For the rest I will monitor the ratings coming in and wipe the reviews from my Feedly.
- If I have skim read any reviews at any point, I will likely wait a few months before I actually read the book (deliberately or not; my TBR list could be the problem here too). This way, my horrible memory should impede my opinion being “polluted” – all I remember at this point is that I was truly convinced at some point or another that I would probably like it.
Not that I resent you guys for sharing those opinions. Not at all! I’ll be more than happy to discuss the book with you…. after I’ve read it.