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Friday, May 22, 2020

5 Attributes of Good Reviews & Reviewers I Love to Read

In case you didn't know, I love to talk about books. After I finish a book, the first thing I want to do is share my thoughts with everyone. It doesn't even matter if anyone engages in the conversation, getting my feelings about a book out of my mind and into words is part of the reading process. It's necessary.
When I'm finished writing up the review, I go seek out the reviews of my friends to see what they had to say about it. I have some favorites. I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the people who write reviews that I want to read and also compile a little list of what I look for in reviews. As I've heard it said before: Your mileage may vary.
What you look for in reviews might be very different and that's the beauty of opinions-they are YOURS. You're entitled to them. These are MINE. You don't have to agree, but worrying about you disagreeing with me is not going to prevent me from sharing them because you can stop reading or caring about what I'm saying at any damn time. Okay, I'm done prefacing. Here's my list:

5 Attributes of a Good Review

*Sidenote: I typically don't read reviews unless I've already read the book and have written my own. But there are exceptions. 
  • A very brief synopsis. I tend to overlook reviews that go into long descriptions of plot details. It's not necessary. If I want to know what a book is about, I can read the summary on the back of the book or online. Usually authors/publishers are pretty particular about how they describe the book and some reviewers overshare stuff that I want to discover on my own. I absolutely HATE when reviewers give away easter eggs or spoil something or even hint at a plot twist. I don't need to know any of that. I also don't like it when reviewers copy and paste the description in the review. I often choose to go into a book blind, so I don't need a reminder to read a summary, I know how to get that information should I need it. 
  • Reasons. In the case of star rated reviews, I think it's important for reviewers to explain the reasons a book didn't score higher. If I read a review that sounds totally positive but the star rating is three stars or less, it leaves me wondering why the book wasn't scored higher. If the review highlights a fair amount of complaints but scores on the higher side, again-I'm left wondering why the written review doesn't match the score. Personally, I like reviews where there isn't a rating--just the review and I like to imagine, based on the reviewer's tone, how they would have scored it. I'm a firm believer in a good review being able to communicate disappointment or enthusiasm based on language vs. stars.
  • Specifics. I love it when a review gives specifics. This builds trust. I find that some review sites are only interested in being the first to review a new book so a reviewer will rush through reading or skimming a new release just to push a review out for the sake of claiming "FIRST". It's easy to spot these reviews. The praise or complaints are super generic and mostly just a rehash or reconfigure information that can be found online. It's easy to just cobble together a quickie and make it sound passable. Much more difficult would be the act of actually reading the book and sharing some very specific thoughts and feelings that can only come from genuine, authentic engagement with a book. I can smell a fake from miles away.
  • Respect. The reviewers that I enjoy reading have a healthy amount of respect for authors and the art of writing. I think negative reviews can be written with respect.
  • Personality. I love it when a reviewer's personality comes through the words. Some of my favorite reviewers are hilarious or have a unique way of explaining their emotions and experiences. Piggybacking off of this one is the length of the review, a dry, emotionless essay length review takes me back to school book reports. No thank you and goodbye. Give me a concise, sharp-witted, buzz-worthy blurb over a diatribe any day and twice on Sundays.
I Like to Read Reviews From These Fine Folks
*Sidenote: Goodreads makes it really easy to see reviews from your friends and most of the people on this list show up first in my Goodreads feed after I review a book

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