Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rambling: You loved this book, but I didn't.

Social media has completely revolutionized communication between people from all over the world.  We are no longer limited to befriending people in our immediate surroundings, but instead are open to meet anyone and everyone.  We are building communities online with the same capabilities of a physical community.  And us book bloggers are a part of that.  I may be a novice at book blogging, but I can appreciate it nonetheless.

As we hold conversations around books reviews, character analytics, plot examinations, and metaphorical interpretations, I, like many others, make a mental list of highly recommended books from friends or people I follow.  Then, I read them.  Sometimes I love them, sometimes I don’t.  In my case, the reason I don’t like the book is because it does not meet my expectations based on the recommendations I received.

Then I am confronted with the question:  To review or not review?  How much weight should I grant a book recommendation?  Book reviews are a great way to get a third-party synopsis of the book, which can provide more information than the back of the book.  Plus, they can give you a forewarning regarding issues in the book.  But what about the raving reviews?  In my personal case, these raised the bar too high in most cases and hindered my reading experience, leaving a gaping hole in the part of me that prepared a special place for that book.

On my own, I choose select to read books that have an interesting appeal.  I look over the Bestsellers list, Goodreads ratings, local library selection, etc.  However, there are so many books out there for me to discover on my own that I need little help from recommendations and reviews.  With the introduction of social media, I am reading more because I am learning about more books than during the days of the Dewey decimal physical catalog.  This means that my book turnover is higher and I am reading reviews constantly to keep up.  Yet, if I went through the list of books I read based on personal recommendations versus my own findings, I enjoyed mostly books I found on my own.

If you are caught in the same book battle as myself, these are some steps I take before I choose to follow a recommendation:
1. I ask the no-brainer:  Why did you like this book?  Does the person give a personal response or is it related to the craft of the book?
2. Compare Goodreads/Amazon rating and reviews – do these match the recommendation?
3. Read the official synopsis for the book.
Most importantly, instead of reading a book solely because it was recommended, I add the book to my mental “to-consider-reading” shelf and that’s it.  I base my decision to actually read the book on the synopsis and average rating, as I would for a book I find out about on my own.

Reading a book is an experience, as I repeat on and on.  We don't experience books all they same, but we still need to continue sharing our experiences with books we find.  I'm always on the quest for the next best book.  Keep tweeting/blogging/Facebooking those reviews.


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