Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Recommendations vs Reviews
The way I see it is a recommendation is general. Maybe you're in a library or bookstore and meet someone looking for something to read. You get into a brief discussion about books and mention several authors/titles you've enjoyed. Recommendations are general and focused on genre. For instance I might recommend N.J. Walters if someone was interested in paranormal romance or Anne McCaffrey is they were looking for sci-fi fantasy. John Sandford or Jonathan Kellerman might be good recommendations for mysteries. I might even get into a discussion about the books an author writes under different pen-names (Nora Roberts/J.D.Robb or Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick). Regardless, the entire conversation would still remain general.
A review on the other hand is personal. A review is about how the book affected a particular reader. One of the problems an author--especially a new author faces is the difficulty in understanding the difference between the two. I have a book that received both a one star review and a five star review. Same book. The one star review was quite long which is unusual. The reader trashed the book from beginning to end, citing examples. The five star review mostly consisted of "Wow!!! Great book!!!"
Both reviews were the personal opinions of one person. They might as easily have been written for Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet. And their effect on the author should be the same. What the individual reader takes away from a book depends on so much of their personal background and baggage. This is true regardless of genre. It's pretty much why I ignore reviews while paying more attention to a friendly recommendation.
A recommendation asks nothing from me. If I read one of the recommended books, I have no pre-conceived expectations except the possible enjoyment of the story. But a reviewer expects me to agree with their assessment. For my own enjoyment, I decline.