Book Review Bloggers and Why I Don’t Follow Them

Mmmm ... Popcorn (Image: Pixabay)

Mmmm … Popcorn
(Image: Pixabay)

I’m a contrary beast – as if you hadn’t noticed.

When wondering what films to watch I’ll scour the net, flick through IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes or online reviews from broadsheets and tabloids to see what the experts think before investing my hard earned.

I hasten to add, I’m pretty picky about whose advice I take and much of that is based on politics and snobbery. I’m a left leaning-individual – you may have gathered that from my occasional backhanded snipes at the current Conservative government and their policies.

As a logical – possibly illogical – progression, I’ve extended this prejudice towards right-leaning newspapers. Clearly, I don’t buy this kind of paper as I’m not scared by immigration, I don’t wish to castigate people because they’ve fallen on hard times and have to draw benefits and I’m not forever on the lookout for fad cures for life threatening diseases – I don’t expect to cure dementia with the shavings from a cuttlefish bone, high cholesterol by licking cane toads or heart disease by stripping down to my knickers, standing on my head and reciting Dad’s Army scripts backwards whilst juggling bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Because I despise these papers, I automatically think their film reviewers will like films I don’t like and dislike films I do. This is nonsense, of course, but a misconception I can’t shake. So, I’ll read The Guardian newspaper’s movie reviewer’s take on whichever The Fast and the Furious we’re on now and if in the unlikely event they give it a glowing report, I’ll be tempted to rush to my nearest multiplex, buy a ticket along with a bucket of popcorn the size of my bath (never trust food that is served in buckets – we’re not pigs. Well, most of us aren’t) and enough cola to quench the thirst of two dozen Maasai tribesmen, even though I don’t really like blockbusters, and loathe every adrenalin, testosterone filled second of driving movies.

And on a side note, am I the only one put off by certain glowing tag quotes they attach to movie posters? Take my advice – read where the quote’s from. I’m happy to take the advice of film magazines such as Empire and Total Film less so if it’s from Crochet Monthly, The Jam Makers’ Chronicle or Door hinge and Keyhole Magazine.

Anyway, as I’m so picky with films, you’d think I’d apply the same technique to books. I’m don’t. In fact, I don’t usually look at book review blogs at all.

Is this weird for a woman so obsessed by the written word, she keeps magazines in the kitchen so she has something to read as the kettle boils? Actually, though I’m weird in many ways (oh, if only you knew), I don’t think this is one of them and even if you don’t want to know, I’ll tell you why.

Books are just too important.

I love films, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not my passion. If I take another person’s recommendation about a film and don’t enjoy it, I can shrug and move on. It’s the same with TV. If someone badgers me into tuning in to the latest hot TV programme – usually something that’s chocka-block with death and breasts if Game of Thrones is anything to go by – and I don’t like it, I just chunter on about an hour of my life wasted and never tune in again.

But a book … A book is an investment of time, money and soul. It’s a commitment that can possess me if it’s good – leading me to wander the house and the streets still reading, that can mean I have to have paperbacks surgically removed from my hands. Well, maybe not the last bit.

If the book’s bad it can lead to simmering resentment, to Reading Reluctance (R.R) – a horrible condition where you don’t look forward to your usual curling up and sinking into a papery embrace because your current book isn’t enjoyable. The thought makes me shudder.

No one knows exactly what I like to read – I’m not sure I can define it clearly – so how can I take another person’s view seriously? And anyway, of all the book review blogs around, many just aren’t that good. I’ve lost count of the number of bloggers who claim to be reviewers and merely print synopses. A synopsis is not the same as a review, people.

So how do I choose books? I’m Old School – I look at covers, I read blurbs. I’d just rather trust my own judgement than that of others. And if I get it wrong, at least I’ve only got myself to kick for my current dose of R.R.


Having said all of this, there is one blogger whose recommendations I do value – bluchickenninja. I’m sure many of you have found her already, and if you haven’t, do visit.

17 thoughts on “Book Review Bloggers and Why I Don’t Follow Them

  1. I largely agree with you, Lynn, over some so-called book review blogs which, as you say, are little more than synopses though sometimes furnished with a dash of opinion along the likes of ‘I liked / didn’t like the heroine / hero’ or simply summed up with a horrid ‘Meh’.

    When I find the occasional critical reviewer (and of course criticism isn’t always bad) I rejoice, and appreciate their comments on a book I’ve read or hope to read, just as I would a scholarly or otherwise insightful commentary.

    (You may gather that I hope my reviews represent the latter more than the former: my aims are somewhat Reithian, being to entertain, elucidate and maybe educate, and sometimes all three…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right – reviews are opinion and so they should be. Just to post a direct copy of the book blurb is fine, if uninteresting – but if you’re going to do that, don’t call yourself a review site. And you have to have a good, analytical mind to review well, along with being able to put your views into words clearly – my mind’s far too foggy, hence the lack of reviews on my blog!
      And I was NOT including your good self in that synopsis-only category 🙂
      I like the idea of having Reithian aims. I think I may accidentally stray into that territory myself on occasion. Completely unintentionally, of course 🙂

      Like

    1. Gosh, didn’t mean to make you cry 🙂 In a good way, right? And you’re very welcome – you deserve it. Your reviews are always very reliable and entertaining.
      Thanks for sharing Tasha’s link – I’ll take a look. I know, I should read more book reviews, but I suppose you have to engage in a relationship with the reviewer, come to trust them before you know if you can rely on their opinion.

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      1. Yes in a good way!

        But yeah, I think books are a very personal thing. Just because I enjoy something doesn’t mean you will. I mean I could tell you about how good some book about Everest is but if you don’t like mountain climbing it doesn’t matter how good the book is, you probably won’t like it.

        You’re right, its definitely about finding people whose reviews you can trust.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Absolutely. And I find it very hard to do, because books are such an intensely personal experience, if I recommend a book to someone and they don’t like it, I feel gutted. ‘What do you mean, it was just ok? It’s life changing, you idiot.’ 🙂
        Can you see now why I don’t do book reviews? 🙂

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      3. Oh yeah, I’m very wary recommending books I loved just in case people don’t like them.

        Though admittedly I did send a copy of The Martian half way around the world because I wanted a friend to read it that bad!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. My other half loved The Martian – I will get round to reading it eventually, and hopefully before the film is released 🙂

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      5. It’s an interesting book – all that research and scientific knowledge he found just scouring the net. And being picked up after self publishing – a real success story. I will definitely read

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      6. Oh yeah. And like its funny because its almost not sci-fi. Almost all of the tech in that book is stuff we have right now, even the way that they get to Mars is something that we theoretically could do now.

        And like Andy Weir had to write a computer program to work out the Earth and Mars orbits because the Aries 3 mission has to take place over thanksgiving. Its really amazing how much research he put into that book.

        And its so funny because the only reason he put it on the Kindle store is because people didn’t want to download the pdf off his website.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Blimey, the bloke must’ve been obsessive to go to those lengths to work out orbits and so on. There was something on the TV the other day about a space probe using decaying nuclear material for power – my other half informs me that’s in The Martian too.
        I’m so glad the book has seen so much success – it sounds thoroughly deserved

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