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Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

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DelianLeague
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Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565591

Postby DelianLeague » February 1st, 2023, 5:44 pm

Hello Bookworms,

Do people look at book reviews and websites before reading a book?

Last year I read some reviews on the book: The Last Days of Pompeii. There were quite a few that were unfavourable, stating this and that and the language was difficult and flowery etc.
My first thoughts were the following: Well it was written in 1834, what exactly do you expect!!
Admittedly, I think I might have been on a US based website for the review, but I was still surprised at some of the bad reviews on a lot of books that I really like simply because people can’t relate to the time of writing.

Anyway, I read the book as it was sitting on my bookshelf along with many other classics that I picked up job-lot and I really enjoyed it. It was one of my good reads of 2022.

I have now decided to never look at reviews and websites such as Good Reads for old established books that sold fairly well anyway as it is completely on personal taste anyway.

I will only use them to try and make a decision on buying a newly released book.

Happy Reading, D.L.

Urbandreamer
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Re: Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565623

Postby Urbandreamer » February 1st, 2023, 7:36 pm

I do look at them, and find that provided you don't limit yourself to just reading the first, to be useful.

I do have to admit though that there are some people so thick that you do have to wonder.

The absolute plumb is a review of a book called "Wolf's bane" about a lady who moves to a community where everyone has "strange golden eyes". Somehow the reviewer managed to fail to spot a link between the title, the "strange golden eyes" and a wolf sneaking into the backyard, in the description. They seemed shocked that there were werewolves in the story!

Another book.
I found this pretty tedious and old fashioned in the extreme...

though they did admit that it might be a "very old novel"

Would you be surprised that "The count of Monte Cristo" was old fashioned or an old novel?

Ps, for those who have not read the latter, it's a long slow story about well plotted revenge. Don't expect it to be a fast moving action adventure. If you had never come across the story, then the review stating it as "tedious" might help you to realize that it's slow, though in my opinion riveting.

Dod101
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Re: Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565629

Postby Dod101 » February 1st, 2023, 7:44 pm

DelianLeague wrote:Hello Bookworms,

Do people look at book reviews and websites before reading a book?

Last year I read some reviews on the book: The Last Days of Pompeii. There were quite a few that were unfavourable, stating this and that and the language was difficult and flowery etc.
My first thoughts were the following: Well it was written in 1834, what exactly do you expect!!
Admittedly, I think I might have been on a US based website for the review, but I was still surprised at some of the bad reviews on a lot of books that I really like simply because people can’t relate to the time of writing.

Anyway, I read the book as it was sitting on my bookshelf along with many other classics that I picked up job-lot and I really enjoyed it. It was one of my good reads of 2022.

I have now decided to never look at reviews and websites such as Good Reads for old established books that sold fairly well anyway as it is completely on personal taste anyway.

I will only use them to try and make a decision on buying a newly released book.

Happy Reading, D.L.


I do not understand your point. If you want to read a classic there is usually no need to read a review. A class is is a classic for good reason. For a new publication, well I tend to read reviews because otherwise I am spending £20 or so on an unknown book. How do I choose it otherwise, by the cover? That is why it would be interesting to know the point you are trying to make.

Dod

88V8
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Re: Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565634

Postby 88V8 » February 1st, 2023, 8:07 pm

DelianLeague wrote:... the book: The Last Days of Pompeii.

Robert Harris... Pompei, a good read.
Mind you, so far I have enjoyed all his books, so much so that those I first read in paperback I have later bought in hardback for a future re-read.

I read the reviews in The Times, but rarely act on them as I already have so many books... I suspect that book reviews are like wine critics, useful if you share the reviewer's tastes.

V8

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Re: Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565640

Postby Urbandreamer » February 1st, 2023, 8:26 pm

88V8 wrote:
DelianLeague wrote: I suspect that book reviews are like wine critics, useful if you share the reviewer's tastes.

V8


Or they make them plain. Yes I would agree.

Unlike wine critics, most who review on the likes of good reads, Amazon or Audible are not setting themselves up as arbiters, but as examples that you can relate to or not.

There has been many a "bad" review that I have found has encouraged me to try a book, as what they didn't like is what I was looking for.

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Re: Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565655

Postby servodude » February 1st, 2023, 10:00 pm

I'm quite happy to treat a review as different from a recommendation.

I'll often read reviews after I've read the book - a bit in the style of a virtual book club I suppose.

Can be tricky at times to pick up a new author that way - so I'll give the first couple of pages a scan if there's a book that's been highlighted by the staff at a shop.

I do find staff recommendations to be useful; not just for myself as I've had some good hits asking for family members where shop staff have pointed out stuff akin to other things I know they had liked.

...and for anyone finding the Count of Monte Cristo tedious I might recommend trying Bester's "The Demolished Man" for a more whiz-bang fast sci-fi take on it

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Re: Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565710

Postby Gerry557 » February 2nd, 2023, 8:16 am

Unfortunately a book review is more of an opinion piece and you don't get many facts. It depends on how much you relate to the reviewer.

It might be more relevant say if an author writes a book series and then there are lots of bad reviews of say the latest one.

Often you get references such as, if you like Jack Reacher you will love XXXX. Maybe it might be useful if a large number agree or disagree.

Ultimately you like what you like.

Dod101
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Re: Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565715

Postby Dod101 » February 2nd, 2023, 8:32 am

Gerry557 wrote:Unfortunately a book review is more of an opinion piece and you don't get many facts. It depends on how much you relate to the reviewer.

It might be more relevant say if an author writes a book series and then there are lots of bad reviews of say the latest one.

Often you get references such as, if you like Jack Reacher you will love XXXX. Maybe it might be useful if a large number agree or disagree.

Ultimately you like what you like.


I assiduously read book reviews in the Times and the FT, much less so on say Amazon. I read the reviews to give me pointers, preferably of some author I have never heard of. I do not read much fiction. In fact for every fiction book I will most likely read at least three non fiction.

Dod

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Re: Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565735

Postby CliffEdge » February 2nd, 2023, 9:20 am

If you struggle to get to the library, most have volunteers who will deliver.

DelianLeague
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Re: Book Reviews are sometimes pointless.

#565770

Postby DelianLeague » February 2nd, 2023, 10:36 am

CliffEdge wrote:If you struggle to get to the library, most have volunteers who will deliver.


Thanks, I didn't know this.

D.L.


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