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Topic: Reviews and Personalities

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Subject: Reviews and Personalities
Date Posted: 10/24/2009 7:10 PM ET
Member Since: 1/5/2008
Posts: 3,387
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so, i started reading elizabeth gilbert's _eat, pray, love_ yesterday, and am more than a third through it already.  i do tend to read reviews before i read a book (even though i already own the book and will read it no matter what the reviews say!) and i found several reviews, marked highly helpful, that stated how whiny she was, and how they couldn't stand the book.

i was prepared to be annoyed by her whining, especially in the first section about italy.  one reviewer said something about "poor her, she had to stay in italy all by herself because SHE was the one who left her man".  (that was loosely paraphrased).  i was ready for some bella in _new moon_ crying over a broken heart, but i didn't find it to be bad at all.  in fact, i almost think she could have talked more about how sad she was.  and part of me wanted to ask this person, "have you never been in a relationship that was bad for you, and told the other person goodbye, but still it hurt?"  when i left my borderline physically abusive ex, i was devastated, even though it was the right thing to do.

i just went to a training on personality and ethics, and i took one of those personality tests before i went, in order to tell where on the spectrum i am.  i happen to be (according to this, and it is all mostly true) highly empathetic to other's situations, and i also do everything i can to avoid conflict.  that's just who i am.  so, while i'm reading this book, which someone else calls whiny, i just see a woman who is being honest about her feelings -- all of them.

i just thought it was interesting, to really see how different personalities can relate to different topics, especially after having just gone to that training.  so, while i initially was annoyed at this review, and the others like it, i can sit back and realize that their opinions are just as valid as mine, and that it's ok to disagree.

Date Posted: 10/25/2009 3:02 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I need to read reviews before attempting a book so I can get an idea if this book is for me.

I always start with Amazon reviews because they're rated 5 down to 1 star. I immediately look for the overall rating of a book. If there is a high level of negative reviews I'll read those first to see the general personality of the negative reviewers. For example, sometimes a classic book will have an abnormal number of negative reviews, but upon futher investigation, it's snotty high school kids who are mad because their English teacher forced them to read it. So those neg reviews have no merit for me.

But for a book with a lot of positive reviews, I'll read the rave reviews first so when I start the book I look for the positive aspect of the book.

If the book starts to get sloggy, or the plot is holey, or whathaveyou, I might read the mid level reviews to see if I am the only one noticing these flaws.

If the book really stinks, I'll go on to read the negative reviews and agree with the gripes. Usually my complaints are the same as the negs.


Date Posted: 10/25/2009 10:49 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 8,411
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I listened to Eat, Pray, Love on CD and really liked it.  I found her to be very honest in the book. 

Date Posted: 10/28/2009 7:54 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,574
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I love reviews for the reason that you state;  everyone has experiences that reflect in their opinions about the books we read.  Like Laura (TT) I read reviews from Amazon.  You get to know the people that write lots of them in a book catagory that you read a great deal.   The erotica discussions at Amazon are interesting that way, lots of writers pushing their style of books, so beware. 

I can count on some of the reviews here to be negative if there is 1. violence against women or children,  2.  swearing  3.  explicit sex   4  first chapter data dumps   5  bad editing, spelling errors (argggggg) and timeline errors. 

I can count on some of the reviewers here to be positive about:  1  Christian literature and novels  2.  books that have HEA   3.  well plotted stories  4.  Lots of hot sex    ETC.

It pays to get to know the reviewers.  I ordered a lot of books I didn't have any interest in on the web site at first, because I didn't recognize the tastes of the writers yet.