I’ve had several subjects on my mind for the past couple of months that I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to discuss on this blog, mostly for fear of being viewed as a pessimist, something I cannot imagine actually being. The subject of reviews keeps resurfacing and it’s time to spill the beans – I do not read reviews.
Not for books or movies or plays or anything else. While I appreciate those who take the time to write reviews, it is difficult work and appreciated by many, I don’t ever go more than a sentence or two into one.
Here’s why. For years, I would watch reviews of movies on television. The thumbs up or down of Siskel & Ebert were a staple for a long time. There were the opinions of Gene Shalit, the wild-haired, mustachioed Mark Twain look-alike, with whom I found I most identified in taste and humor, presented as a regular spot on the Today show. Film reviews were and still are prominent on television, print and now online. Over time I realized that I rarely shared the opinion of most reviewers, with the exception of Shalit, and had often missed seeing movies in theaters that I ultimately saw on television and loved.
The same is true nowadays. I read several reviews of Indie books when I started out as an Indie author, two years ago, often ones I had already read. It was rare that I agreed with the reviewer. I either loved or disliked the books, sometimes in agreement with the overall judgment of the reviewer, but very seldom on the same points.
Moreover, I found that if I read the reviews before I read the book, I was seeing the book from the standpoint of the reviewer, not my own. I did, more than once, re-read a book after trying to clear out the opinions of a reviewer and see it freshly on my own.
As I said, for those that wish to have an idea of what they’re getting into ahead of time, the reviews are critical. I’m just not one of those readers. I truly do thank all those who make an effort to give a review to books on Amazon, and/or blog their reviews. I know the effort is valued by many, many readers.