[DISCUSSION] Do We Put Too Much Stock in Reviews?

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Yes, it’s that time of the month. That time for my monthly discussion (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do on this blog). Most of these topics (okay, pretty much ALL of these topics) stem from something that has personally bothered me, and I’ve always wanted to hear what other people think about it, because I can’t be the only one, right? And today’s topic is one that I guess is sort of close to my heart, and it’s putting too much stock into other people’s reviews.

(Also, this topic has zero to do with people who still read books that have been called out for being problematic because they want to check it out for themselves. That’s a whole load of BS, but it’s not the point I’m trying to make.)

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I first noticed this problem on Goodreads. Take Goodreads user Emily May. She’s probably one of the biggest and most influential voices on the site, who has the maximum amount of friends and is followed by tens of thousands. People anxiously await what she’ll have to say about upcoming releases. Back when I had a Goodreads account, I followed her. She’s an honest reviewer, and I always know that I’m listening to an opinion that I trust who doesn’t just needlessly snark on every single book they read (cause there are way too many people like that on Goodreads). So, of course, I saw her positive reviews, and her negative reviews.

Nothing is wrong with Emily’s negative reviews. I think most of her criticisms are fair and she doesn’t completely destroy books just because she might hate them. I can disagree with her, and I don’t feel like I’m trash for liking something, like some Goodreads users might make you feel about liking a book they hate. But I noticed a trend that I really hated once the comments started rolling in. There’d always be one person, or even several who said some sort of variation of, “Oh, no, this was one of my most anticipated releases this year! Ah, well, guess I have to take this off my TBR!” 

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For some reason, that statement always rubbed me wrong. Just because one reviewer, even one that you trust, doesn’t like a book you were excited for, that means you won’t pick it up? That means there’s no possible way that you could ever like this and disagree? You won’t even give it a try? And all because of someone’s opinion? And then I realized that this happens a lot, for a whole slew of popular users. Which, of course, made me wonder why.

From my personal experience, I used to do this a lot. I was obsessed with Goodreads, which is funny to look back on. I would try so hard to gain a lot of friends, to get likes on my reviews, etc. If one of my more popular friends hated a book, or rated it one or two stars, I completely ignored it. If they didn’t like, then I obviously wouldn’t like it, right?

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One of the biggest examples of this was with City of Bones. The series was quickly gaining popularity, and I wanted to check it out and see it for myself. Of course, I went to Goodreads, and was met with negative review after negative review after negative review, all saying it was a clear rip-off of the Harry Potter series. I decided to completely denounce the series and vowed that I’d never pick it up. Only a couple of weeks later, I actually read a sample of the first book. I devoured it. It ended on a mini cliffhanger, and I just had to know what would happen next. And before I knew it, I had bought the books that had already come out, I was reading them one after another, and I was completely and totally obsessed. Now I consider Cassandra Clare one of my favorite authors, and I’ve (almost) read all her books. I would’ve missed out on one of my favorite series just because I saw a large majority of negative reviews and believed them all without reading them for myself. 

Last year, in the month of October, I deleted my account for a multitude of reasons. But I remember how happy and how much lighter I felt that I could read any book I wanted without feeling like I had to adhere to popular opinion. Maybe not all people feel this way, but I did, and it’s so much better to go into books without feeling bad for swaying one way or another, maybe even going against the flow. Red Queen was a book I read two summers ago and fell in love with. It got me back into reading, and everyone on Goodreads slaughtered it, making me feel sort of bad for liking it. And with Throne of Glass, where I might’ve skipped out on it if I hadn’t read a sample on iBooks and loved Sarah J. Maas’s writing. And, probably a whole slew of other books like All the Missing Girls and All Is Not Forgotten and The Cursed Child. Like, a lot of books. Not to mention that I hate a lot of books that Goodreads love, continually making me ask what was wrong with me, if I was missing something that was so obvious.

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Do I understand why people will take a book off their TBR because of seeing a negative review? Totally. Some people don’t have all the money in the world to buy books, and don’t feel like wasting money; some people just really trust that person; some people don’t feel like wasting their time; or maybe there’s some other mysterious reason as to why all their stock is put into one single reviewer. Even I myself have done it from time to time.

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BUT, I wish that sometimes, we as bookworms could be a bit more open-minded, and not completely close ourselves off from something just because a lot of people don’t like it. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it. Maybe it’ll be your new obsession. Maybe it’ll get you out of that reading slump or make you happier when you’re having a crap day. Let’s stop feeling so afraid to be in a little party of one, even if people might look at you as “less than” for it. 

(Trust me, someone will totally be there to fangirl with you. Always.)

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How do you feel about this topic? Do you feel like people put too much stock into other people’s reviews? What makes you take a book off your TBR (besides bad author behavior and being problematic)? I’d love to know your thoughts!

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30 thoughts on “[DISCUSSION] Do We Put Too Much Stock in Reviews?

  1. Amazing discussion! I totally agree with you – encountering negative review(s) of a book you’re excited for shouldn’t make you take it off your TBR! It might make you delay reading the book, but completely forgetting about the book is something I don’t understand. After all, we’re all individuals with different opinions, and there’s ALWAYS a possibility that what one does not like may be liked by us.
    What I always do is read reviews of a book AFTER I’ve read it. I hardly read Goodreads reviews of books I’m going to read or the ones on my TBR, because I genuinely don’t think reviews and ratings are that important in my decision to pick up certain books. The only reason I pick up books is if I’ve read the author before, or if the summary interests me. I always read Goodreads reviews (especially Emily’s reviews) after I’m done with the book I was reading, just for the sake of finding out other people’s opinions on it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! And, yes, exactly my point! I might put it as a lower priority, but I rarely ever take it off my TBR. That’s just not me.

      And, hey, same! 😄 Usually, I first spot the cover, and then read the summary if it’s an author that’s new to me. For authors I know, I just read the summary to see if I’ll actually read it or not! I’ve never done that before; even when I go to the GR page to copy and paste the synopsis. 😂 I usually just get a peek of the overall star rating and that’s it!

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  2. Some people read a single book review and make a decision. They just might happen on a negative or positive and base their opinion on that ONE review. That’s not helpful at all!! I rely on reviews 100% when thinking of picking up a book. But before I make my decision I’ve read 20+ reviews with an equal amount between negative and positive. Everyone’s experience with a book will be different. One person may love what the next person hates. One person may pick up on something that I may have missed completely. I think it’s so important to find a person reviewing books that has a similar taste to your own and look at both sides! But, like you said, if a person reads one negative review and says they’ll take it off their TBR I shake my head. Then again, it’s their choice so if they want to not read a book because of that then that’s ok for them. I just wouldn’t want to close myself off to a book I may love

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    1. I usually base my TBR on summaries and barely reviews! I used to look at reviews, but I rarely do anymore unless a book on my TBR just happens to pop up on my blog feed! But that is nice to read an equal amount of positive and negative reviews; that sounds like a great idea! Yes, I get so frustrated when people don’t read a book because of someone else! I never want to miss out on something that could quickly become my favorite. That would suck. 😝

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that people naturally like to listen to popular opinion and that’s why good reads (which is so well known) has the influence that it does :s But reading this made me realize how disheartening it is that people could miss out on reading books because of it…Good reads seemed like a must if you are a book blogger but do you believe that it is? In my opinion, I think it’s great to look at reviews but then buy the book yourself and come up with your own opinion 🙂 I read City of Bones just because it was popular and then even without reviews, felt bad that I didn’t like it at first when clearly soo many people loved it. So I totally get what you mean about that peer-pressure-like feeling reviews can give off…
    Interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s very true! It’s sort of how people start jumping on bandwagons about things, mainly about entertainment, like shows and movies. It only takes one popular person to sway everyone’s opinion.

      I really don’t think GR is a must! I have a whole discussion for that later in the year, but I’ve stopped using it before blogging, and when I tried to start again, I just wasn’t feeling it.

      And, yeah, peer pressure is definitely a thing! There are sometimes where I’ve looked back at my ratings and been confused why I rated them that way. 😂

      Thank you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So much this!!! I actually was thinking of Emily as an example as well. I think her reviews are wonderful and well written, and that her opinions are valid, but I ended up having to unfollow her because I noticed our book taste just isn’t compatible. We tend to rate every book we both have read on the opposite end of the spectrum, and it was starting to influence my not wanting to pick up a book I’d been excited for because I felt like a fool for disagreeing with her opinion. Again, that’s not a stab at Emily or her reviewing, just that I had to make a decision for myself to read things for myself, and now I can still go and read her reviews on certain books that I’d like her opinion on without my newsfeed being filled with all of them.

    Also, I’ve had to take this advice to heart on the flip side. I’ve been clearing my friends feed out because I recently hit 5,000 plus another thousand followers, and I have people comment on reviews that are negative of mine that “they have to take it off their TBr now” and I’ve started saying NO! Don’t just take my word for it; you may love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, yes, I feel you on that! When I was Goodreads, I muted so many of my friends just because they annoyed me with bumping their reviews or our opinions just didn’t line up with mine or we didn’t even read the same genre. 😂 I remember Emily rated Golden Son and Prince’s Gambit one star – and I LOVE those books. I felt like we’d read two different books when I read her reviews, but other times, our interests matched so much and I’d add a book to my TBR b/c of her. It’s so strange!

      And, yes, I do that in all my negative reviews! I never want people to not read a book because of my opinions! I’m definitely not the end all be all of reviewing. 🙈

      Liked by 1 person

  5. If I’m desperate to read a book (it’s by a fave author for example) then it probably wouldn’t matter what the reviews said. If however it was an author I didn’t know or it was one I’d had doubts about, bad reviews might put me off but it would need to be a lot of bad reviews rather than one or two and I wouldn’t necessarily drop it from my tbr but I might move it down the pile a bit. I have so many books on my tbr that I’m always juggling and don’t really have the time to waste on a “bad” read although curiosity often gets the better of me.

    The reviews will also influence how much I’m willing to pay for a book. If there are a lot of negative reviews I’m much more likely to wait and get it from the library for example than paying £20 for a brand new hardback collectors edition.

    There are also a few reviewers whose views I trust. I’ve found that their taste and likes or dislikes are almost identical to mine so I’ll put a bit more stock in their thoughts. I know for example that Emily, the reviewer you mention, tends to hate things that don’t bother me so much so I don’t tend to be overly influenced by her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, same. You can bad-mouth Sarah J. Maas, but I will buy whatever she publishes; it’s just fact. 😂 I definitely do that for authors I’m meh about (for me, those are the ones I’ve read a book from them, and I didn’t like it too much) but new to me authors I’m willing to give chances to!

      I barely buy books, so I can’t really say how that influences me! When I buy books, I rarely check reviews! I usually have a whole list prepared and I just go off that. 😂

      I don’t really have that reviewed type for me! Maybe I should look harder? 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really agree with you about this. I sort of had a similar experience when I finished “Kiss of Deception” by Mary E. Pearson recently. Emily May and Khahn (another huge reviewer on Goodreads) slaughtered that book with their reviews. They each gave it one star, and wrote scathing reviews about it whereas I loved it. It was really dismaying to see all of the people commenting on their reviews and saying that they wouldn’t bother reading it anymore because two big reviewers disliked it. The book, on a technical level was definitely not a one-star book. It was well written, but it didn’t meet their personal taste and I really felt like the one-star reviews was almost unfair in a way. Turning off thousands of people from reading a book just because you didn’t like it feels wrong.

    When I review a book, I make it pretty clear to my followers to give the book a chance despite how I may have felt about it. They may love it, they may hate it, but taste is subjective and no one should rely on the voice of one to make up their mind about something without actually trying it first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I know about Khahn as well! I followed her more because her snark is entertaining than because I trust her opinions, because for me, she’s one of those people who’s reputation is based off of tearing down books, which I don’t think is bad, but it’s just not my taste.

      Yeah, we definitely have a lot of influence! I said this on another comment on a totally different app, but we as book reviewers have way more influence than movie and show reviewers. A movie that gets bad reviews, like Transformers, can still make billions of dollars, and there are several shows like Pretty Little Liars that sucked, but still have a long-ass run, but for books, we don’t have that. Bad reviews can make or break a book, and it’s crazy to think we have that influence.

      Yeah, I do the same in my reviews! For all negative reviews, I make sure to remind others that they might like it more than I did, because I know how it feels to be the “outlier” in a sense, and I don’t want to make people bad for feeling that way.

      And, ugh, I must read The Kiss of Deception! I really want to read the entire trilogy now that’ it’s finished, but it’s one of many YA books I’m behind on. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think people need to read many reviews before they decide. Popular reviewers or not, it’s good to hear the positive and the negative stuff before deciding to read a book or not (in case they read reviews before choosing a book). Goodreads is a huge part of my reading life, after all, because of it I read so much. Emily is probably my favorite reviewer, I rarely disagree with her personally. Caraval was insanely popular when it was released.I even bought the book when I rarely do. I regretted it when I read the book because disliked it. I found out later that Emily didn’t like it so I only appreciated her more. I think she deserves to be the top reviewer. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean not checking other reviews. Sadly, most of the popular reviews are more fangirling or blind hate more than actual reviews..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hm, that’s interesting! I don’t really read reviews anymore before deciding if I should read a book or not – I just read the summary and if it piques my interest, I’ll check it out! 😂 I personally loved Caraval, but I remember seeing some people not liking it or thinking it was meh, but I feel like that always happens with hype. I don’t expect EVERYONE to love a book because we’re all different and someone’s not going to like something. I don’t mind fangirling reviews, probably because I can do that and read critically, imo, but yeah, I’m not a fan of snarky reviews. That might just be me because everyone loves them, but I hate them. 😝

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I REALLY agree, Mikaela! Often, the book blogging community influences me to pick up a book, but it should never cause you to turn away from a book. You NEVER know if you will like a book or not, and I tend to stay away from reviews of any books I’m going to read, because I know that negative reviews will give me a view of the book without even having read it.

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    1. Oh, yes, the power of Goodreads has definitely pushed me to read SO MANY BOOKS, both ones I’ve loved and ones I’ve completely hated. 😂 I also stay away from reviews of books! I’ve stopped reading them nowadays, and the books I read don’t usually get reviewed too much, so it’s not hard to avoid.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, yes! I know right. 😛 I don’t have a Goodreads account, and usually I will just look at reviews AFTER I’ve read the book, to see what other people thought. But never before! I don’t want it to influence my decision to read it. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, yes, I don’t have a GR account either! I tried to start one again for my blog, but it was too much work, so I just gave up again. 😂 Sometimes, I might see what other people are saying, but most of the time, I’ll just avoid them altogether!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, I miiiight get a GR account??? 1) for blog, and 2) reviewing books is fun. But maybe not.
        Same! Usually I don’t care for reviews (though sometimes I’ll look at them for, like I said, different views). I just want to read the book! XD

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  9. You are on a roll with these discussions – love it! What a great choice of topic, definitely makes you think. I agree that there are so many ways to feel turned off about a book just because some reviewer said that it wasn’t good and didn’t enjoy it. I have to admit that it has happened a couple of times to me: I reconsidered reading a book because of bad reviews, but usually, taking a book off my TBR for sure happens only when I read a couple of reviews (not just one, a couple) and from readers whose opinion I 100% trust. I’m talking about book bloggers who I have known for a while now and knowing that I share their taste in books and trust their opinion completely. It has happened to me that I read a book these bloggers did not like, and felt the same way as they did – same happened the other way around for books they didn’t enjoy. So that, I will do. I never base myself on only one bad review though, and sometimes I try not to get too influenced by others to pick up the books I choose – when something appeals to me I try not to read too much into the reviews of other bloggers and try it for myself. Except when it’s bloggers I trust blindly, and even then I sometimes make exceptions.
    Wow, sorry for rambling so much hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Marie; that means a lot to me! You always have the best discussions! ❤

      Hm, I’m usually pushed to take a book off my TBR if it has bad reviews AND I really don’t want to read it. There are some books I’ve added to my TBR that I was initially excited for, but it’s been so long since I added them, and seeing meh reviews sort of turns me off of them. I don’t think I really have a person who I go to for trustworthy reviews! Even if someone who I usually add books to my TBR because of them, I still might read a book they hate, especially if they have reviews of books I’ve loved and they hated and vice versa, mainly because I don’t think I’ll ever find a person who lines up with my taste. And no problem for rambling; I never mind long comments! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a great discussion Mikaela. I have to admit there have been a few times when I haven’t picked up a series because of the negative reviews I’ve seen, but it hasn’t been just one or two I’ve read it’s been more a case of seeing a large amount of negative reviews all saying the same kind of thing.
    I tend to be very influenced by negative reviews. If I read one before starting a book I tend to pick up on things the reviewer may have mentioned that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t read the book, and then I start lowering my opinion of it and after I’ve finished I wonder if I would have enjoyed the book as much if I hadn’t read that review. I guess when it comes down to it although if I see a large amount of negative reviews I won’t necessarily remove a book from my TBR list that I was really excited about (obviously problematic books are a different case all-together) but I will lower it on my TBR list and maybe get started on something I have a better chance of liking you know?
    Again great discussion. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s actually funny, because I find myself to be easily persuaded! I mean, I’ve read the negative reviews for Shatter Me and The Selection over and over again, AND YET, after saying I’d never read them, I did it (and ended up hating both series, but that’s not the point). 😂 I don’t know what that says about me, but when I’m interested, I’ll go for it!

      I don’t know if that’s ever happened to me. I think I usually tend to disagree with that reviewer. Like, I do hate Shatter Me, but it’s for total different reasons. I thought the way everyone said the writing was terrible was incorrect in my eyes, but that’s personal opinion, obviously.

      Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve read a lot of negative reviews for The Selection, and while I haven’t quite removed it from my to-read list I’ve lowered it so much who knows when, if ever, I’ll get around to it. Oh it’s a shame you hated both anyways.
        I think it’s just that when I read negative reviews I find myself looking out for the negative points other people have mentioned. It’s somewhat subconsciously but once someone has mentioned them they seem to stay stuck in my head and then they seem to be everywhere when I start reading.
        That’s all right! 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I actually try not to read reviews unless I’m really on the fence about whether I’m going to try a new book or not. But there are a few bloggers who have VERY similar tastes to my own, and I will read their reviews. Usually I’ll assess if the negative statements are about things that would genuinely bother me, and if so, I might remove a book from my TBR. But usually I’ll just de-prioritize it, at worst. And for the people who are reviewing that I’m not familiar with their preferences to begin with, I take negative reviews with a grain of salt and it doesn’t really affect me all that much. But I totally agree with you about not deciding to avoid a book based on the opinions of one or two people. We are all different and like different things!

    ~ Michelle @ FaerieFits

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    1. Yeah, same! I don’t read reviews for books anymore; I just pick them up and read them and see how I feel about it! Literally the only time I ever see the rating for a book is when I copy the summary from GR for my reviews, and even then, I don’t even bother looking. 😂 Personally, I have things that irk me, but it all depends on how it’s handled. I hate insta-love, but I’ll still read it if I’m intrigued enough to do so. Yeah, I’m one of those people where if I see someone continually trash books, I just stop listening, because at that point, what are their preferences??? We are definitely different and we all like different things, and that’s definitely okay!

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  12. AH I go through this thought process every time I get a comment like that on one of my reviews. I don’t MIND. Like if you don’t want to read it because of my review, that’s fine. But then I think ” what if this person would LOVE this book and my review is now depriving them a possible all-time favorite ? ” Its a stressful thing as a blogger!

    Personally, I like to read both negative and positive reviews for a book before reading it. I don’t do this all the time – sometimes I just read a book if it’s one I’m really looking forward to. But if theres one I’m not 100% sure about, I’ll read negative and positive reviews so I can go in with a realistic expectation. OR I do have a few things that I really don’t like so if a negative review addresses something I wouldn’t like in detail (with possible screenshots or quotes) I’ll probably avoid it.

    I think there needs to be a little of a balance, you know? What one person likes another might hate (which has happened to me after reading 238230928390 positive reviews) or vice versa.

    Great discussion!

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG, influence gives me so much anxiety on both ends! I have a whole post planned on it for later this year, but I get nervous when ppl read books I love and recommended because what if they hate it??? But I don’t want to drive anyone off a book because I didn’t love it. It’s all very confusing, really. 😂

      Yes, I’ve seen several people say jar in the comments section, that they look at both positive and negative reviews, which I think is a pretty good way to find new books! Personally, I just never do that. I don’t think I’d even be able to find the time. 😬 I don’t think I have anything I particularly dislike, personally; I’m open to everything really!

      And, yes, definitely! Thank you so much, Molly! ❤

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  13. This is a really interesting discussion, Mikaela! I don’t think I ever thought about it but now that you mention it I do think that we sometimes put too much stock in reviews. I’m such a hype reader so when everyone gets excited for a book and I read a ton of great reviews it automatically makes me want to read it lol. And then if I don’t like the book I can end up feeling bad. Case in point – The Inexplicable Logic of My Life had so many great reviews and then it just did not click with me (for some problematic reasons) and it wasn’t until I started seeing other negative reviews that I felt a bit better about my own opinion (which is terrible I know). And I’m with you on City of Bones! I’m actually glad that I wasn’t a part of the book community when I picked that series up because seeing all the negative comments/reviews that I’ve seen might have pushed me away from them and I would have been missing out. As for taking books off my TBR, usually it takes seeing several negative/mixed reviews from people I talk to a lot on here that I know share similar reading tastes as me before I actually take a book off my TBR. I try not to base it on just one review. And then now I try to avoid reviews when I’m really excited for a book lol. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, I’ve never thought about the opposite affect – where we read certain books because of reviews. There have been time sneeze I’m not interested in a book at all, but several reviews can push me to read it. I definitely understand what you mean; there are so many series/books I don’t like and everyone seems to love, and then I feel bad because I don’t like them. And, same, I avoid reviews of books I’m excited for because I want zero influence going into them! 😁

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