So a few weeks ago Jessi over at Novel Heartbeat, posted about whether or not book blogging had made her too critical. I responded with a comment saying that I didn’t think I had become too critical, but that I had learned to choose my books more carefully.
That got me thinking about how come it always seems as if I am writing glowing reviews and rating every single book at least a 4/5.
Which led me to want to start this discussion post.
Does it make you as a blog reader more suspicious when you only see positive reviews on a certain blog?
I’m stumped on this, to be completely honest. Here’s the deal. If I’m not liking a book I’m reading, I don’t finish it. End of story. I simply put it aside. Sometimes if I feel like it could work for me in the future, I’ll hang on to it. But most of the time, I just abandon it completely. So you might see a DNF post every once in a while from me. This is more for my personal book journal than anything else.
However, let me tell you a little story.
Once upon a time, I was a newbie book blogger in 2008. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, I’m actually very embarrassed by what my “reviews” consisted of back then. They were pitiful, to be completely honest with you. But what I also didn’t understand at the time was the sheer reach my little book blog could have on the internet.
I read a book that I didn’t like (this was before I gave myself permission to DNF books with no regrets). Okay. I reviewed said book. And I ripped it up one side and down the other.
No big deal, right? It’s my blog. My opinion. Who cares?!
Sure … until the author stopped by and responded to my very negative review. (I should also add that this was the first time I actually had an author comment on my blog, ever!) This could have been very bad for me. He could have ripped me up one side and down the other. He could have blasted me trying to end my blogging career before it even started. But he didn’t. He took the high road. He was very gracious and thanked me for reading his book and hoped that I would give him another shot in the future.
Open mouth. Insert foot.
I felt like a fool. Completely and utterly embarrassed. I made it my motto right then and there that I would watch very carefully how I presented things on my blog. Obviously, I’m not going to lie about my feelings on a book. But there is a huge difference between what I did and constructive criticism. I learned about that fine line that day.
So what does all this have to do with my comment on Novel Heartbeat?
Well, like I said. It really got me thinking. As I was painstakingly handwriting all of my previous books read into my new paper book journal (yep, I went all the way back to 2007 when I started keeping track), I realized that so many of my reviews were being rated 4/5!
Isn’t that a little suspicious? What do my readers think? Do they feel that they can rely on me for honest reviews?
This is honestly why last year I wanted to throw away my rating system entirely. I sometimes find it hard to put a numerical or alphabetical rating on a book. Let’s not even discuss the fact that rating systems are entirely subjective just because everyone has completely different parameters.
But let me be 100% honest with you. I have learned over the years to understand exactly what I like in a book. Because of this knack, I am able to enjoy almost every single book that I read. Sure, some are obviously better than others. But for the most part, I love everything I read. And as I stated above, years ago I gave myself permission to give up on any book for any reason after 50 pages.
When I pose myself the question that I’m posing to you, I think back at all the times I have read a negative review on some other blogs. Truthfully, I can’t think of all that many. One blogger in particular sticks out for being a very outspoken (ok, I’ll just say it .. she was a bitch sometimes) reviewer. But she has since closed up shop (and no, I’m not naming names here). But to be honest, it seemed like every review she posted was negative … maybe she was just a negative person in general? I know of another blogger who shared with me that she didn’t actually post a review to her blog for every single book she read. I never questioned her further regarding this, but maybe she only posts reviews for the outstanding books and skips reviewing the “eh” ones?
I have it very plainly stated in my review policy that I do not like writing negative reviews (because of my experience with the above-mentioned, but not named, author). There have been many times I have “passed” on a formal review (and my NetGalley review ratio reflects that…) because it was best for me not to write one. But is that the wrong way of looking at things? Am I handling this the way I should be?
So, dear readers. I have to ask you, does it bother you that you are only seeing positive reviews here at Tales of a Book Addict? Does this make my credibility with you any less? Please be honest with me on this, for I want to make sure that I am not doing my readers a disservice.