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.)
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!”
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?
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.
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.
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.)
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!