The Dark Side of Book Reviews

A while back, I went through a reading slump and had a lot of difficulty in finding books that interested me. I would read many synopsis’ and reviews and found that eventually, I started to only pick books that had high ratings. Books that seemed “guaranteed” to be instant hits. But a lot of these books ended up being reads that I didn’t care for or couldn’t get into. This escalated my reading slump and made me frustrated to no end.

Here’s the thing with book reviews: everyone is entitled to their own opinion and their opinion may differ from yours because we’re all different people with different sets of likes and dislikes, genre preferences, and interests. By relying solely on reading reviews to find my next books, I got stuck in a pitfall of only wanting to read “good books” without taking the time to find books that I thought were good. I had been relying on other people’s opinions too much without realizing that everyone has different preferences and thoughts on what makes a book good and those thoughts and preferences are likely different from my own.

For the last 6 months, I’ve been looking for books using my own “is it worth my time?” category checklist. If it passes the checklist, then I’ll give it a go.

  • Does the book-blurb pique my interest?
  • Is the genre something I’m feeling right now?
  • Does it have any tropes I’m not interested in?
  • Have I heard of this author before?
    • If so, have I read anything else by them before and liked it?
    • If not, who are they published by?
  • Are there any trigger warnings I should be aware of?
  • Is the book part of a series and do I want to start another one?
  • Has this book won any major awards?
  • Does it pass the flip test (open to random page and read it)?
  • Is the cover art interesting? (I’m a collector, this matters sometimes…)

Using this list, I’ve discovered that I have been more likely to enjoy a book I found on my own rather than slogging through a book that reviewers told me I’d love (but I really didn’t). My enjoyment in reading has increased, the frequency at which I finish books has increased, and I don’t really feel guilty about buying books I don’t like because its become rare that I dislike a book enough to DNF it.

If you’re struggling with finding books that you enjoy, give my list a try and see if it helps you find titles you like. Take a break from relying on other reader’s opinions to sway your decision making. You might find that you get more satisfaction out of choosing your own without being influenced.


Do you enjoy reading books and want to hear more about my bookish adventures?

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