Saturday, March 20, 2010

The eternal question: Why do you read reviews?

As I was browsing my copy of Romantic Times magazine (yes, I admit it, I am a subscriber), I started thinking about my habits in reading reviews. I don't review as much as I used to and I tend to go for tested and true favorite authors on the few occasions I do. At the same time, I find myself researching much more in depth before purchasing a book from a new author, this means that I do look for reviews as an additional source of information.

Now, one thing I've discovered about myself is that I don't like to read long reviews of more than 3 or 4 paragraphs. Too detailed reviews are not for me. I am all for conciseness and my style in writing reviews tends to show that. I do read reviews that are all synopsis, though I don't exactly consider them reviews as they don't provide enough of an opinion and often all they offer is a gushing, quotable, two-sentence paragraph. However, those reviews are helpful to me in terms of giving me additional information on what the story is about. I often find that the publishers blurbs are either not too accurate, or are too vague. When I read a review from RT Mag, for example, I do it with the specific intent of finding out more info on what the book is about rather than what the reviewer has to say about it, for the reason I mentioned before. Frankly, a two-sentence opinion is way too short. Telling the readers "I loved this book, it was fantastic" no matter how creatively phrased simply is not enough, from my personal perspective.

I also read reviews at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, however, I do have to clarify that I do not read the reviews from the top rated reviewer in those sites. Why? Well, have you noticed how every single romance book ever published has been reviewed by the top reviewer there and that her reviews are basically saying that each of those books is a masterpiece? Sorry, I may not be a genius, but I am not stupid either. In both sites I go for both the good and the bad reviews from reviewers that don't seem to have an agenda.

A good tested and true source for me are my friends who enjoy romance as much if not more than I do, and I often ask them for their opinions. One of those friends and I are so much alike in taste that sometimes it's scary. I also share the same taste with my younger sister, who is also a fan of romance.

What do you all look for when you read a review? Do you read more than one source or do you have a tested and true place be it blog, review site or bookseller that you consistently use when seeking information on a book that interests you?