Posted in Weekly Posts

Musing Mondays (October 21)

musingmondays51

Hosted by Should Be Reading
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…• Describe one of your reading habits.

• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).

• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!

• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.

• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!

• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

This weeks musing is about book review sites and more pertinently why have a five star system if you can’t use the whole range?

Each of us rates in a slightly different way, after all by its very nature, a review is a personal opinion.

I write reviews on Amazon.co.uk and have done for a number of years now. I struggle with the rating system, mainly because I believe in following the rules and being honest. I generally stick to:
5*’s I love it
4*’s I like it
3*’s It’s OK
2*’s I don’t like it
1* I hate it

but even this has problems as what is the difference between I hate it and I don’t like it? For me I give one star reviews to those books I haven’t finished. There are further caveats to this, if I have chosen a book that simply isn’t for me subject wise I wouldn’t leave a review as I believe that it is my fault, I have picked something I was never going to like.

A couple of times I have received less than complimentary feedback from the author when I have given a book one star (which I might add is very rare), one was quite abusive and left me wondering what sort of impression the author thought that would give of him to potential readers? After all mine is one amongst many reviews.

At the other end of the scale I sometimes find it hard to choose between four and five stars. Yes I know loving something should be easy to discern but I find myself questioning how much do I love it? This year has been an outstanding book year for me so I have given many more five star reviews. This has made me wonder am I getting better at picking good books, more easily pleased (I somehow doubt this) or more open to different types of books thereby enjoying fresh ideas ? Who knows? (can someone tell me whether rhetorical questions should have a question mark or not, I’ve been debating for ages and gone with the ?)

Anyway what prompted this post was an attack on Goodreads for giving a one star review for a book I didn’t finish.  I didn’t read to the end mainly due to the plot holes, and what I felt was less than perfect research. The commenter stated that I had been spiteful, lacked the concentration to finish the book(?) then accused me of being a rival author and/or knowing the author of the book. I admit my comments were a little throw-away but I hid them as spoiler alerts so that they weren’t visible unless someone really wanted to read them. This made me think about the whole rival author thing that everyone seems to get worked up about. If I were an author (which I am not) then how would giving another author a one star review help me? Surely this would only work if there were only a few books available and it was a simple choice between one or the other… this clearly isn’t the case so?? Comments on a postcard please (or at the bottom of this post if you prefer)

The commenter made another point that it is hard to write a book and therefore I shouldn’t be spiteful… I agree writing a book isn’t an easy task and I do have admiration for anyone who does this but it doesn’t mean that I am going to like it however much an author sweated over its birth, To me it seems a little like school sports days; everyone doesn’t deserve a prize for trying this is the real world! I didn’t go and criticise all those people who gave five star reviews and caused me to spend my hard-earned cash on this book! I accept that what I felt made the book unreadable wouldn’t matter to someone who didn’t necessarily know the subject. I have been told a book I like has an overlong sentence structure. Apart from a brief, oh dear I didn’t even notice the sentence structure I must seem so uneducated moment, I accepted that the other reader wanted something different from the book to what is important to me.

This isn’t a post about a particular site although from what I understand is Goodreads has caused some controversy lately with its deletion of accounts but more about how fans react when a book they love isn’t appreciated by others. What happened to live and let live?…. a book with loads of higher ratings will surely not really be damaged by my dislike of the book? Can’t it?

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

12 thoughts on “Musing Mondays (October 21)

  1. I guess this is one of the reasons that I haven’t written any formal book reviews yet! 🙂
    Do you think that some of it is related to the self confidence–or lack of it–by the author?
    As they say–“You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

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  2. I find on Amazon that 1 or 2 star reviews will always attract negative votes and often negative comments, but honestly I ceased to care ages ago. Some people think the buttons mean ‘I disagree with your opinion’ so fine. Other people of course think it will help them up the greasy pole of the rankings – which I simply find sad.

    With regards to authors, I couldn’t agree more – they should expect criticism if they put their work out there, and if they’re not tough enough to take it, then writing is the wrong career. However, as reviewers we are also writers, so I suppose we have to be willing to take criticism ourselves too – however unfair. If an author leaves an abusive comment on my review, I sometimes add a note to the review confirming that I’m a genuine reviewer and drawing attention to the author’s comment – I find that usually stops them, as does informing them you will report them (and their shills – the abusive ones always have shills) to Amazon. it’s all very sad, really.

    With reagrds to rhetorical questionmarks, I vote yes! 😉

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  3. I don’t mind the negative voting at all on Amazon but the comments are harder to deal with. Good point though I’d written it so maybe I should just take it on the chin too 😉
    Thanks for the answer re the questionmarks and I’m glad I got it right!

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  4. Any author who reacts like that is showing really bad judgement. When I see that it means I do not buy or read that author again. We are all different and react to books according to our own experience. Author need to understand that. They are out in the public and should take all reviews in stride.

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  5. When I write reviews I like to be honest, it’s my review so I’m going to say what I think. I don’t see how authors can expect their book not to receive negative criticism, that’s guaranteed. I’m not sure how I would react to an author getting in touch to complain about my rating. It’s all personal, just because you hated something doesn’t mean everyone else will. But I don’t let it change my ratings, if I only thought something deserved a 1 star it gets 1 star – I could never recommend something I hated!
    I saw this recently on Goodread, I’d read a book called Every Day that had a really high rating and was recommended by multiple people. I read it and personally really didn’t enjoy it or find the characters at all likeable. I saw a review similar to mine, well thought out and every problem they had with the book explained and it had more comments then I can count that were rather abusive towards the reviewer. It kind of amazes me, when someone tells me they hate one of my all time favourite books I don’t get aggressive and angry. I love the discussion that brings, if we all liked the same books then life would be pretty boring!
    I also agree that just because someone wrote a book it doesn’t mean they should be given high praise by everyone.Yes writing a book is hard but so is reading it if you happen to think it’s awful, where’s our prize for that?

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, such a great musing for Monday!

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    1. Thank you for your well thought out comments. The whole problem with reviewing books is I know what I like and why I like it and will say so but that doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same about the book. I find it incredible that ‘fans’ think they have to wade in and protect the author when someone doesn’t agree.
      Thanks for visiting so sorry for the delay in responding. Loved your blog.

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  6. I don’t write book reviews, but I used to write reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp for hotels and restaurants. At first, I was brutally honest. But then I started getting not nice feedback/responses from either the owners or people that really liked the places. So then I just started rating the places that I liked and didn’t leave a review for the ones I didn’t like, but that started to feel like I was being less than honest and it appeared that I liked or loved everything. So I just stopped altogether.

    I think you should feel comfortable leaving whatever review you feel is appropriate. It’s unfortunate that people aren’t able to be civil on these websites (I’ve heard bad things about both reviewers and authors on Goodreads). And I don’t think an author should be responding to negative comments, especially in a spiteful way. It would make me less inclined to read the book, just like I won’t stay at a hotel where the manager has made negative comments in response to a bad review. It just looks so unprofessional.

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    1. Thanks for your input. In most instances there is a way to give both positive and negative feedback in a review but I’m a bit like you with Trip Advisor, if I’m only going to comment on the good books then I’m not reviewing fairly…. I feel the same if I see horrible comments on a book I’m looking at from the author I wouldn’t read the book.

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  7. For me my reviews are subjective: did I or did I not enjoy reading the book. So my rating system is basically the same as yours. I don’t really rate a book on its technical writing merits as I’m not a writer nor studied it and so not ‘qualified’ in this respect. A book can be well written yet I may not enjoy it. Still I do try to write a balanced review so if I can I try to highlight any positives even if it’s a low rated review. Here’s my musing:
    http://daystarz.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/musing-mondays-12/

    I also use the ? For rhetorical questions…..

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    1. Thank you Jennie for your comments, I too usually try to mention any positives, I guess this particular book frustrated me with its inaccuracies which meant I overshadowed everything else… Thank you for sharing your Musing too.

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