Do you read reviews?

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Do you read reviews?

Mar 7, 2023, 8:06 pm

I will be honest: I don't generally read book reviews, except the ones posted to the 100 Books Challenge group.

But I get the impression that lots of people do read more book reviews than I do, and I'm wondering where they usually find reviews to read.

Do you have a favorite reviewer (or six) that you follow? Do you subscribe to some kind of publication? Do you look up reviews for a particular book because you are interested in it?

Mar 7, 2023, 8:27 pm

All the time. Something like 40% of LT's value to me is book reviews by its members. I trust what I read here more than reviews on Goodreads or Amazon. I always thumb the reviews I appreciate most. Some have been decisive in deciding what I will read next.

Mar 8, 2023, 4:39 am

Ish. Only here, and mostly I skim through them (when there are many) seeking a feeling about plot/tone. A few users I recognise to have similar tastes to me, so their opinion is weighted more strongly. Usually only when I'm looking to buy a book, but unsure if it's worth reaching out to a new author.

I do also follow a few of the GreenDragon reading threads which are mini-reviews and will add books to wishlist if they seem interesting (again recognised names more likely to occur).

Mar 8, 2023, 5:14 am

I definitely read reviews. If I'm at a book store and considering purchasing a book, I'll pull out my phone and check library thing to see it's star score and reviews. I recognize quite a few people on LT, since I have been in the 75's for many years. I'll check out the reviews of people I know and their star scores to help me to decide whether to purchase a book. I read reviews in The Guardian UK, and also The Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun that I subscribe to here in Canada. Oh course I have authors I know well, so I'm going to buy some books with or without a review - but I really value reviews.

Mar 8, 2023, 7:25 am

I'll read reviews if I'm struggling with a book and want to see if I'm the only one.
I'll read reviews after I finish a book to see what others thought.

I won't read reviews to pick a book. That has to be done on the book's own merits.
I won't read reviews of books I chose to publish (eventually), mostly because reviews are for readers, not authors.

Editado: Mar 8, 2023, 8:28 am

I do read reviews on LT, GR, and Amazon. I just finished Madame Fourcade's Secret War. Many stopped reading because of so many names and it was not an easy read. It was so interesting and informative about Marie- Madeleine Fourcade and WWll and the brave women and men of the French Resistance.

Mar 8, 2023, 9:23 am

>2 Cecrow:

Very similar value for me, reviews (especially but not exclusively on LT) help me find books I'm unaware of, and then move them from my "recon" list to my "wishlist" based on what I learn over time. LT is especially helpful in that I recognise several reviewers (and in fact, "follow" them) and their commentary is more reliable than even detailed reviews by others less familiar to me. I'll note that I find negative reviews as insightful as positive, too. Again, if I know the reviewer and recognise what they like is not what I like, their detailed review is quite helpful to me.

It's also very helpful that my assessment typically happens over a long time period. I'm not making a decision in a bookshop, typically I'm learning about a book over months or years, as reviews trickle in.

Mar 8, 2023, 11:01 am

I also like reading them again after finishing the book, to see who agreed/disagreed with my impression and why. That's been helpful when I just don't "get it" sometimes, and someone else can shed some light.

Mar 8, 2023, 11:16 am

I pick up a lot of self-published books, many via Kindle Unlimited (so they don't cost me ££ beyond the KU subscription). It's hit and miss whether I'll get into them, and I have a low threshold for dropping them. (Guilty? Not at all!) So I use reviews when I'm undecided whether to continue reading. If I manage to finish a book, I'll often post a review. And at that stage I'll check out the other reviews for comparison.

Editado: Mar 8, 2023, 1:01 pm

Since I am now in the habit of reviewing every book I read, I usually read the other LT reviews on a book right after writing my own. Sometimes that inspires me to return and add remarks in response to the other reviews.

I enjoy reading capable book reviews as such, so I often make a quick pass through the "hot" reviews in LT, and I try to read all of the reviews by my "connected" fellow users as they come across the activity feed.

Mar 11, 2023, 1:20 pm

>9 MHThaung:
You appear to use reviews for books the same way I use them for asian dramas. :)

>7 elenchus: "if I know the reviewer and recognize what they like is not what I like, their detailed review is quite helpful to me."

I actually noticed this phenomenon also back when I was subscribed to Locus magazine. One particular reviewer: if he was enthusiastic, I wouldn't be. If he was reluctantly admitting that a book might have some merit to someone but not much to him, there was a good chance I'd like it.


I'm just going to summarize what I think has been said so far, correct me if you think I got it wrong.

Most of the people responding here predominantly read reviews posted here. (Not surprising.)
Other places mentioned are Goodreads, Amazon, and various newspaper/publications.

When someone encounters a book directly, finding the review is obvious and easy, and often done. (One benefit of the age of information.)

Using reviews as an introduction to a book of which one wasn't previously aware of, here on LT, mostly involves exposure to those reading threads which consist of a series of reviews (although the "hot reviews tool is also used), but with a distinct prioritization given to reviews by recognized or trusted reviewers... to the point where particularly favored reviewers can become actively sought out.

Although running out and getting a book described by a trusted reviewer does happen, a gradual build of interest also happens.

People reading reviews after they have experienced a book is definitely a thing. :)


I wonder if I asked this question on Goodreads if people would respond differently. (Where on Goodreads could I even ask this question?)

When I see a review on Goodreads its because someone I am following posted it. I am following a bare handful of people, mostly because I know them from somewhere, and few of them ever post reviews, and I usually just glance at my email update and don't visit the site.

Does Goodreads have an equivalent to the 75 Books Challenge and other reading thread groups?

Editado: Mar 12, 2023, 11:53 am

>11 LShelby: here on LT, mostly involves exposure to those reading threads which consist of a series of reviews

My quibble would be with mostly involves: for me, more accurate is involves both ... and with the missing mechanism being the Recent News module: "... and the Recent News module."

This is where reviews appear from LTers whom I follow or have marked as Interesting Libraries, and works appear which are not in my library. It's a vital way for me to learn about works.

I also follow some threads consisting of a series of reviews, but much less consistently than I follow the Recent News module.

Editado: Mar 12, 2023, 12:36 pm

Most of the people responding here predominantly read reviews posted here.

Not me.

I do, indeed, read reviews, but not very often on LT (never on Goodreads, which I gave up on due to its unattractive style and its turn from a site for readers to one mainly for authors to promote their books, or Amazon, which is notorious for fake reviews).

I read the Sunday New York Times book review section, and I get the Guardian's Bookmarks newsletter. I subscribe to the Neglected Books Page: and Biblioracle: (I also read his column in the Chicago Tribune) and to the Center for Fiction: and the Jewish Book Council:

And after all that, my "hold" list at the library gets longer and longer!

Mar 14, 2023, 2:34 pm

>12 elenchus:
Ah! Good catch.
I did say that people were specifically followed, but I never did say how, and you are right that it should have been included in the ways that people access reviews.


Mar 14, 2023, 3:03 pm

>13 lilithcat:
With such a small sample, you including yourself on the "mostly reads reviews elsewhere" does make a big difference to my numbers. Thank you for speaking up. :)

I think the "mostly reads reviews here" crowd is still a large enough proportion to validate the worth of LT reviews.

I actually expected there to be readers who looked to publications for reviews, and I was very curious to see which ones were named. So far we have a mix of newpapers and book review sites/newsletters.

I'm now wondering how much publication choice depends on favored genre, and how much upon other factors. (Because I'm eternally curious, it seems.)

Mar 14, 2023, 8:34 pm

I do read reviews elsewhere, and I have often contributed links and snipppets to the "Published reviews" work-level data in LT. (251 to date, earning me a gold "helper star.") I used to be a regular reader of The Believer magazine, which was a fine source of reviews.

Editado: Mar 14, 2023, 10:14 pm

>15 LShelby:

I'm now wondering how much publication choice depends on favored genre, and how much upon other factors.

Interesting question!

I wouldn't say that I have a "favored genre". I read a mix of fiction (contemporary and not) and non-fiction. The latter leans towards history,; art (including architecture, design, fashion); books about Chicago/by Chicago authors; contemporary Italian fiction (I'm studying the language); books about Venice.

Many people say they don't read reviews until after they've read the book, to see what others thought of it. But I use reviews to find books that sound intriguing. They help me decide what to read, so a good in depth review, especially when it comes to non-fiction, is very helpful.

Mar 17, 2023, 2:28 pm

>16 paradoxosalpha: "251 to date, earning me a gold "helper star."
Awesome. :)

The Believer concentrated on stuff they thought was worthy but neglected rather than any particular genre?

Mar 17, 2023, 2:40 pm

>17 lilithcat: 'I wouldn't say that I have a "favored genre".'

I'm with you there. When I decided I wanted to publish, I decided to specialize in speculative fiction as a writer because I wanted to make market research more efficient, but I always read a wide range of things fivtion and non-fiction.

The 100 Books group might actually suit me rather nicely, as a source for reviews. There's no thematic connection between members, so the works I'm exposed to are very varied, without being particularly "high-brow" or exclusive. That suits me.

By the way, that Neglected Book Page looks interesting, but wouldn't it be hard to find copies of those books to read?

Mar 17, 2023, 3:05 pm

>18 LShelby:

I don't know how The Believer constructed their reviewing agenda. It certainly wasn't constrained by genre.

Mar 17, 2023, 3:23 pm

I usually buy books I've read about somewhere and take a list with me on my fairly regular visits to our small town (Inverness) Waterstones. Every couple of months or so I get fed up because the Waterstone manager/bookbuyer doesn't know what's going on in bookworld and I order from Amazon. For me it's not whether the review says it's a good book but whether it sounds interesting.

Editado: Mar 17, 2023, 3:29 pm

>19 LShelby:

By the way, that Neglected Book Page looks interesting, but wouldn't it be hard to find copies of those books to read?

Indeed it is.

Mar 20, 2023, 6:59 pm

>20 paradoxosalpha:
I think newspapers tend to review what the publishers send them. From the stuff I skimmed from Wikipedia it seemsThe Believer was getting awards for doing something consistently different from the usual.

Even if they were just ignoring the big publishers and so leaving space for lesser-known folks to get seen, that's still a cool niche to be filling. :)

Mar 20, 2023, 6:59 pm

>21 PossMan:

Thanks for responding, and I'm sorry to here about the manager at your Waterstones. (My small town is too small to support any kind of bookstore.)

"For me it's not whether the review says it's a good book but whether it sounds interesting."

I have seen enough variations on this theme to have been convinced that it is significant. A reviewer saying thumbs up or down is less important than the how well they describe the book.

Mar 20, 2023, 6:59 pm

>22 lilithcat:
Pity. But I guess I'm glad that someone is trying to keep the stuff that fell through the cracks from vanishing completely.

Set 18, 2023, 1:15 pm

Generally I ignore the world of reviews, my next (fiction) read will come from one of my many previously enjoyed authors/series, friend's recommendations, interesting covers/titles that cross my desk, occasionally a similarity suggestion from an app. Non-fiction will usually arise from my own topical search, or (particularly but not only biographies) fortunate casual discovery.

However I do seek out reviews for a new author if, after the blurb or recommendation with a book that caught my eye on the library's e/shelf hasn't provided quite enough information to indicate whether I am likely to enjoy it / find it useful. Sometimes, I might check reviews if an author I am comfortable with appears to be tacking in a different direction that I'm not sure I'll enjoy as much. As I google for reviews, and goodreads results appear early in the results, I tended to read those. However in future (at least for a while) I think I'll check LibraryThing first.

Set 18, 2023, 8:17 pm

Yes. Particularly to get a "feel" for the subject matter and style that may not be apparent from the description. Also for indications of show-stoppers for me, such as "would have been improved by better proofreading." Frequent misspellings and typos break my immersion and I can't enjoy the story.

Set 26, 2023, 10:21 am

In the non-fiction world it's not all that unusual for books on more or less the same topic to appear almost at the same time. Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgely and Iris Murdoch went to Oxford University around the start of WWII and two books about them appeared at more or less the same time: The Women are up to Something by Benjamin Liscombe and Metaphysical Animals by Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachel Wiseman. THey were often reviewed together which was very useful. In the end I bought both. I'm glad I did though having read the first I'm only about half way through the second.