Thursday, January 17, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Let's Review

This week’s question is suggested by Puss Reboots:

How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?

A coworker of mine had a tube of the most delicious smelling lotion. I had to have some for myself. I searched and hunted with no success and finally resorted to searching for it online. I was ecstatic to find it. Not all of the customer reviews were favorable, unfortunately, and they gave me pause for thought. I hate sticky or oily feeling lotion. And then there was the comment that the scent does not linger long. What to do? I ordered the lotion and even though it is not the most soothing during this windy season when the skin on my hands is cracking dry and even though it is a bit oily on my skin and the scent fades fast, I still like it. It was worth it. At least this once.

The thing is, I gave it a try. The reviews offered me a more realistic impression of the product, and so my expectations were not quite as high as they might have been otherwise. Negative book reviews work a lot like that for me as well. If I intend to read a book, a negative review will not likely turn me away from the book completely. I may push it off a little longer, but I learned long ago that just because one person does not like a book, doesn't necessarily mean I will not like it either. If anything, a negative review often prepares me ahead of time. I am better able to select the right time and place to read a book, know which of my moods is most fitting, and maybe the review will help lower my expectations so that when I do read the book, I end up enjoying it more than I might have otherwise.

If I am on the fence about a particular book, a review, positive or negative, can make all the difference. Depending on the negative review, I might decide against reading a book, while on the other hand, if the review is good, I will definitely add it to my collection. The key, of course, being that the subject matter of the book interests me. Just because Jo Ellen loved that technical manual on how to put together your own pencil sharpener, it does not mean I will care to read it. Occasionally too, many positive reviews will turn me off of a book I am on the fence about. I may decide to read the book anyway, but it will be with some reluctance (Water for Elephants, for example) However, if it is a book I am dying to read, positive reviews will increase my desire to read the book.

Blog book reviews have proven to be a great source for recommendations, whether they are books I hope to someday read or ones I had never heard of before. There have been a few books I have added to my wish list that were given mixed reviews, and while the reviewers may not have been blown away by the books, I still think they sound interesting enough to try. Reviews by fellow readers do have some influence over my choice in reading materials, but they do not have the final say in the matter. I do.

And for the record, it should be a crime to create such yummy smelling lotions. It really should. Someone might forget the lotion is not edible.


  1. Wendy, I'm still chuckling over your last paragraph about those yummy smelling lotions! And you have put it very nicely with your reply as well, and that goes without saying that I enjoyed reading it, hehe.

    I agree what you said. Reviews do play a part in our choice of reading, besides reading mood that is but in the end it is still up to us isn't it? ;)

    Hope you have a great weekend ahead. I have been looking forward to it since the beginning of the week... :P

  2. I enjoyed reading it a lot as well. I just loved how you approached the question!

    And I agree with you. Reviews give me reading suggestions, but they don't determine if I'll read the book or not.

  3. I pretty much agree with everything you said. What's the name of this lotion anyway?

  4. Same thoughts here too, Wendy!

    BTW, you've been given an award... :D

  5. Our answers were very similar!

    Have a great weekend!

  6. Well said. So what is the name of the lotion?

  7. Yummy smelling lotions are my downfall too. I simply can not go into a bath and body kind of shop without walking out with some new lotion.

  8. I know what you mean about edible lotions, I always get confused by anything strawberry scented and want to eat it! I used to have strawberry lip balm but found I was licking my lips more and making them even drier so I had to stop!

    I pretty much agree, reviews help swing the balance sometimes but don't usually put me off something I want to read. Sometimes they do temper my expectations however which can soften the blow if I end up being disappointed by a novel.

  9. I agree about the yummy smelling lotions. Likewise with candles. People should not create things that smell remarkably like sugar cookies, cake icing, or a pumpkin pie baking unless they want me to eat them. It's just cruel! :-P

  10. Lol, I still tease my husband about the time I took him with me to Target when we first started dating. I was smelling the lotions and I don't know what he was thinking but he licked his palm after he had put it on figuring it had to taste as good as it smelled lol. Needless to say it didn't and I haven't seen him mess with any ever since!

  11. It looks like we're similar in finding reviews most influential when we're undecided about a book. I think it's interesting that too many positive reviews can turn you away from a book - I don't think I've had that reaction very often myself.

    And yes, please give us the scoop on that lotion! :-)

  12. I am not sure what made me write about delicious smelling lotion, but sometimes something totally unrelated to the topic at hand will lead me in the direction I want to go when nothing else does.

    The yummy lotion is called Buttercream Frosting. It's a Jaqua product that can be found at Bath and Body Works--sometimes. Not at mine when I looked, but once I ordered it online, I found it everywhere. Always my luck.

    I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

    Melody - One thing I didn't really talk about was how I most enjoy reading reviews of books I have already read. :-)

    Nymeth - Thank you! My wish list is like Santa's naught and nice lists thanks to all the reviews you've written just on your own. ;-)

    Chris - I finally had a chance to read through some of the responses, and noticed there's quite a bit of consensus on this topic.

    Alice - Ah, thank you, Alice!

    Amy - Great minds think alike!

    Jaimie - Thanks!

    Lori - I'm a frequent hand washer and so I end up needing to use a lot of lotion. Or maybe that's just my excuse. I love trying new scents.

    Rhinoa - I'm like that too with flavored lip balm! Haha

    Megan - It's very cruel! I agree with you about the candles too. :-)

    Jen - That's hilarious about your husband! I noticed the tube of lotion here has a warning that says, "This product smells good enough to eat, but it is not edible."

    Florinda - I really don't understand it myself, but it's happened on occasion. I think it may be in part because I don't believe anything could be THAT good. I like balance--I want to hear the dirt as well as the good stuff.

  13. Book blogs have really opened me up to a lot of options, too. They have been a fantastic source.

    I also agree with you about trying things for myself. If I have my mind set on reading a book, a bad review won't stop me. But if I'm on the fence, it might wave me one way or the other.

  14. Nikki - Yes, they definitely are a great source for new book ideas!

  15. Reviews only effect me when they go beyond the "I liked/ didn't like" phrases.

    Taste is something that is very personal. Thinking is not (really ;)

  16. Nessie - Very true. I tend to discount those as reviews to some extent when I talk about being influenced by reviews, I admit.


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