Monday Musings

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.

Lately I feel as though as I’ve given almost all the books I’ve read 4 or even 5 star reviews. This worries me because I feel my ratings become less useful as they become more homogeneous. At the same time, I’m happy with the ratings I’ve given each book. So the question then becomes why I read books that I can honestly give good reviews so much more often than books I don’t enjoy. Of course, this comes back to how I pick which books to read, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

Before starting blogging, I almost always picked books by randomly wandering through the library. While I still do this occasionally, I’m now more likely to go to the library with a list of books, genres, or dewey decimal numbers to search for. Picking books in advance means I can do a lot more screening than I could do with a book picked up at random. Books on my list are often selected based on reviews by book bloggers I follow. Less popular books, like those from specific Dewey Decimal numbers, I can still read about on goodreads. If I’m not certain I’ll like a book, I usually use the goodreads rating as a “tie-breaker” and get it if it has an average rating around 4 or better. Even with a list, I’ll still follow my pre-blogging process of reading the book jacket and a few pages of the book to make sure  I’m really interested.

My criteria for accepting books for review are similar, if more cautious. There’s nothing more unpleasant than being stuck writing a negative review about a book someone was kind enough to give you. However, as a book blogger I believe I owe my readers the honest (if kindly phrased) truth, no matter the source of the book I’m reviewing. I therefore tend to reject a book immediately if A) the description is poorly written; B) the genre is too far outside my comfort zone; or C) the cover looks too unprofessional. If a book passes those criteria, I’ll definitely check for reviews by others and seriously consider accepting it for review. Those criteria are more guidelines then rules though and I sometimes make exceptions. In fact, I’m making a dedicated effort this year to read more indie and debut authors and am intentionally weakening my prejudice against unprofessional covers, since not everyone can afford a professional one.

What about you? Do you tend to pick books at random or make a list in advance? How do you handle review books that you can only honestly give a negative review?

15 Comments

Filed under Monday Musings

15 responses to “Monday Musings

  1. Lakeshia Artis

    I know this is crazy but the covers usually attract my attention at first. Then I will open the jacket and read what the book is about. If I’m still not convinced, I will head over to Goodreads and check out their ratings. Like you, if its 3.50 or above, I will usually read it.

  2. I have periods of time where I feel like all my ratings are positive, too. Like you said, being able to screen books and sort of feel them out before reading definitely helps. Sometimes I feel like I’m rating books higher, but other times I feel like I’m just reading better books suited to me. It’s hard to figure out which is the case.
    Great post!

  3. I think, if i gave stars, they would skew high…because if a book is awful, I don’t finish it and therefore do not review it.
    Life is too short to read a book you are not enjoying.

  4. Kwizgiver

    I’ve felt that my ratings were high, too, but then I realize that most of the books I read have come highly recommended. And there have been some duds. I try not to finish those.

  5. Patty B

    Mainly I make a list from different resources and recommendations but if a cover catches my eye I usually check it out. I know the old saying you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I noticed some books I have read years ago are coming back with newer covers that turn me off and sad to say I would not buy if the covers looked that way 10 yrs ago or so. That said, I have enjoyed most of the books I have read…so maybe you can judge a book by its cover… 😉

    • I think judging books by their covers has worked pretty well for me too, since I do like most of the books I read. Some of my favorite books have been ones I picked up because they caught my eye in the library 🙂 At the same time, I am trying not to avoid books because of their covers since it’s entirely possible I’ve been missing out on some good books that way.

  6. Daystarz Books

    I’ve just done a couple of 5 star reviews and I sometimes question if I am being too generous. I find reviewing across genres hard and usually just try and compare within a given genre. Here’s my MM: http://daystarz.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/bookish-rant/

    • I do the same thing with staying within genres, to an extent. In particular, I review non-fiction and fiction on two entirely different scales. Within those groups I try to stay more consistent, but books still are sometimes just too different to compare!

  7. Pingback: Monday Musings on Bookish Obsessions | Doing Dewey

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