Friday, August 21, 2009

Losing the trail...

Last night I finished a book that I almost didn't read. That would have been a shame. I normally thoroughly enjoy Nora Roberts books, but a reviewer I really respect gave it a so-so review so... well, I was afraid I was going to be disappointed.

At the time I purchased Black Hills, I also purchased Burn by Linda Howard and Knock Out by Catherine Coulter. Postponing reading Black Hills, I read the other two first. They were both excellent, by the way. I heartily recommend them both.

Night before last, I started Black Hills, finally reluctantly halting half way through because my bed beckoned. Then last night while waiting for my company to arrive, I whiled away the time by finishing the book. I thought it was a WONDERFUL book. Truly wonderful.

The thing that disturbs me is that I almost passed it by based on a stranger's review. Yes, I've read other reviews by her. Yes, it seemed like a very erudite review. And yet... well I usually don't allow others to influence my reading choices. Why did I almost let that happen this time?

Perhaps I'm just tired or burned out or preoccupied, but for some unfathomable reason, I almost chose not to form my own opinion. That would have been unfortunate. I would have missed a great story all because I was too lazy or too willing to let another person make that decision for me.

No, I don't think the reviewer is a bad person. I just forgot the most important fact about a review. It's one person's opinion. One person. The fact that it's in a blog for all the world to see doesn't make it any more valid for anyone except her.

Too often, we allow the opinions of others to influence us so that we miss out on some of life's most engaging experiences. Why? Why do we allow ourselves to be herded off the trail?

This was certainly a wakeup call to me. It made me re-evaluate how I look at reviews for my own books. Does it disappoint me when a reader doesn't like the book? Yeah. But again, it's one person's opinion. And I'm certain that out there somewhere there are a dozen other books that reader will love. That doesn't make my book a bad book. It just means that reader wasn't a good match.

How about you? Have you let someone hold you back from reading a good book?



  1. A thousand years ago I used to review books. Rule number one - reviewers are people prone to likes and dislikes. None of it is personal. And no, I rarely ever follow another's opinion. I listen and take it on board but I make the decisonon what I will read or watch or believe

  2. The opinion that counts is the individual reader's. The problem is, reviews can and often DO discourage a reader from buying. It's an unfortunate by product of readers trusting the opinions of the reviewer.

  3. You are so right about reviews and the fact that often we tend to be herded. Its a good reminder to all of us.

  4. Haven't had too many reviews but I've seen some recently, for others, that were misplaced or mean-spirited.

  5. I don't read based on reviews; I base it on whatever draws me in, be it favorite author, blurb, or excerpt. But, if I've read something I've thoroughly enjoyed, I'll shout it from the rooftops! Figuratively speaking....

  6. One person's opinion is a mantra for me. I spent too many years not trusting my own and as you've pointed out, probably missed out on some experiences that I would have enjoyed. Great post!

  7. Ah, I have both BURN and BLACK HILLS on reserve at the library. Glad to know you enjoyed them.

    I tend to take the advice of people I know, when I know their tastes are similar to mine. Even so, I don't always agree, so why would I expect to always agree with a reviewer I've never even met.

    On the other hand, I know I need to develop a thicker skin when it comes to reviews of my own books. While intellectually I'm full aware that it's just an individual opinion, I do tend to let a bad one bring me down a bit too much. Need to get past that, definitely.

  8. Yep. If a friend who has the same taste as me recommends reading something I'll snap it up in a heartbeat. The bad stuff? I usually dive in anyway if the premise sounds interesting and I'll form my own opinion. Granted, good reviews are wonderful and I always feel a sting from the bad ones but I can honestly say a reviewers opinion has never swayed my reading choices.

  9. I've only paid attention to other reviewers if I'm reading a series and I've been disappointed and I'm wondering whether or not to finish the series. Then sometimes I'll check out reviews as new books are released. If the reviews indicate it's more of the same, I'll pass on the rest of the series. Most of the time, I take reviews with a grain of salt.

  10. I might take a review into account if the reviewer is one who seems reputable and I'm only hesitating because of the price of the book in that moment. If I had easy access to a library and could read for free, then I dive in anyway and read for myself, regardless of reviews. Make sense?