By: Celine | March 15, 2014 | (33) Comments

discussing through midnight

This meme was created for YA Midnight Reads as a discussion post of all things bookish.

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Hello there, Midnightians! (Yes, I’m totally using the nickname Mel came up with. It sounds pretty cute, actually!) Today I’d like to discuss reading reviews of books with you. Or rather, NOT reading reviews with books. It regularly happens that I’m scrolling through my feed and click ‘mark as read’ without actually reading the post, even though they’re from my favorite blogs. Not because I’m not interested, but because I don’t dare read them yet.

There will inevitably be, for everyone, books that the blogosphere reads before you do. Recent example: Split Second and Cress. Both books that I was very excited about and had pre-ordered quite some time before their release. When the reviews started rolling in, they weren’t out yet, and since I wasn’t lucky enough to obtain an ARC, I hadn’t read them yet. And I really, really don’t want to read reviews of books I’m planning to read. Reading reviews of books that I don’t plan to read or have already read? No problem! But when I am planning to read that book? No, thank you. The reason why?

I’m afraid they’ll change the way I’m going to look at that book. Actually, there are many reasons, but they all boil down to this. First and foremost, people have opinions on books. (I know – shocking) And a review is actually nothing more than that opnion written down. (Again – mind blowing, isn’t it?) What I’m afraid of is this: what if these opinions become mine? Since I haven’t read the book, I haven’t been able to form my own opinion. If I read reviews before I read the book, I won’t be able to go in with an open mind. The opinions I’ve read are already in my head, and they (could) shape the way I experience the book.

People also notice different things. There might have been this reviewer who was really annoyed by a particular thing, so much so that it ruined the book for them. If I hadn’t read this review, I might have never even thought about that thing. But now I’ve read about it, and I will inevitably remember it while reading, which will cause me to be annoyed by it as well. I might have absolutely loved the book hadn’t it been for that one thing.

And the last thing – spoilers. Some people put HUGE spoilers in their reviews without warning, because they want to discuss it so badly. That’s absolutely fine, except that I will never be able to forget that spoiler. So not really fine after all, but that’s a discussion for another time. My brain works like this: (and I bet everyone else’s does as well) when I WANT to forget something, I will remember it forever and ever. There’s no forgetting spoilers, and it will affect my enjoyment of the book. A big part of reading is, to me, that moment when you did NOT see something coming, and you’re gasping and going no, no, no, no, no way in your head and your mouth is hanging open and you’re just completely baffled. I LOVE that moment, absolutely love it, and spoiling takes that away from me. Luckily, most people I follow are very considerate and spoiler tag spoilers.

However, there’s also this thing that I call “unintentional spoilers”. Unintentional spoilers only occur when reading multiple reviews, and I’m going to give you an example to illustrate what I mean:

Say, we’re talking about a series ender of a series with a love triangle that you’re really invested in. This is what might happen:

Reviewer One: “The love triangle was resolved brilliantly. One boy was much more in the spotlight than the other, and we got to know more about him. The other boy was a lot in the background, so you sort of forget about him, which automatically makes you ship the winning ship! No heartbreak there, guys. It was brilliant.”

Reviewer Two: “In this novel, we got to know a lot more about Boy A. I really loved that. We get a deeper insight in his character and I just completely understood him.”

Neither of these “reviews” spoils anything, but I think we’re all smart enough to put one and one together and conclude that the girl ends up with Boy A. Of course, reviewers can’t help this. That’s why I call it an “unintentional spoiler”. No hard feeling against either of the reviews – their reviews are completely acceptable. But it is a really good example of why I don’t like to read reviews before I read the book.

Do you read reviews of books you haven’t read yet? Why/Why not?

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Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

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33 Responses to Discussing Through Midnight (25): Why I Don’t Read Reviews Before I Read the Book

  1. I actually do read reviews for books I haven’t read yet because that’s how I discover so many wonderful books I wouldn’t have read in the first place. If it’s for a book that I’m REALLY looking forward to, I skim the review to get a gist of what they thought. But yes, I never used to read book reviews before reading the book because I was scared of them influencing my thoughts on the book. I would like it to be a choice instead of reading about spoilers!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Book Binging – Reading too much of one genreMy Profile

  2. I definitely see your point, Celine! I used to love spoiling myself, but after a while I stopped looking for spoilers and tried to avoid them. Now, I really want to be surprised with twists, conclusions and other things. I read reviews of books before reading them, though. I read reviews of reviewers I trust who won’t spoil anything. Usually, one to three reviews is enough for me before starting a book. In my own reviews, I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible and put warnings if there are mild ones. But yeah, I try as much as possible not to let these reviews go into my head while reading–which is mostly why I read the positive reviews. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, dear!<3
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…Discussions & Confessions: The One Where I Discuss Covers!My Profile

    • Celine says:

      I’m so glad that most people (like you) are so considerate when it comes to spoilers! Unfortunately, there are always a few who put big spoilers in their posts without warning 🙁 It was after I got spoiled for The Fault in Our Stars (waaay back) that I started avoiding reviews of books I want to read 🙂

  3. It’s getting harder and harder for me to avoid reviews of books I haven’t read but I do try. Like you said about people noticing things you never would have, I feel like that too! I try to not read any reviews until after I review a book. Sometimes I’ll be like “oh yeah, that’s true, the writing was really bad” but if I’d never read that review, I would’ve LOVED the book. I’m not too iffy about spoilers as long as they’re not big but it’s annoying when you piece stuff together and it BECOMES big. Lovely discussion!
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…March New Release: Giveaway Blog HopMy Profile

  4. I used to read some reviews during my reading, but I’ve recently started to practice not doing that, but I did notice that there were things in the book I would never have answered, or I start to dislike someone if they thought differently to me, which is pathetic, because as you said, it’s an opinion, not a fact. Right now I vary a little, I’ll sometimes like to check the ratings, the first few sentences to hype myself up, but that’s it really; at the moment anyway. Great topic Celine! 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…DNF Review – Dead SilentMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Ah, I can definitely see where you’re coming from! To be honest, I have been guilty of that myself. When someone absolutely hates a book that is among my all-time favorites, I do have to swallow a few times before I move on! But like you said, it’s just an opinion, and we’re all allowed to have one 🙂

      Thank you!!

  5. This is so true! If I read a ton of good reviews about a book, it sets my expectations really high and I am usually disappointed. If I read bad reviews, I tend to notice the things that the reviewer didn’t like way more, and I don’t end up enjoying the book as much. Fantastic post!
    My Full bookshelf recently posted…Stacking The Shelves 3/15/14My Profile

    • Celine says:

      This exactly! Positive reviews can work out really badly because then my expectations will be sky-high. It’s really unfortunate when that happens *sigh*

      Thank you! <3

  6. Lexa Cain says:

    In theory I agree about all your reasons not to spoil your first impressions of a book by reading its reviews. You’re absolutely right, but … I’m a curious kitty and have a real hard time not peeking at Christmas presents and book reviews! 🙂
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Writing Process & CelebrateMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Haha, I can definitely understand that! I’m actually remarkably good at not giving in to the temptation… I’m not ususally that strong, haha.

  7. Usually I really REALLY try not to read reviews of books that I want to read soon, especially books I have. It’s not really an issue because I read books fairly ahead of everyone else so by the time I’m done I haven’t read a review or seen one on someone’s blog yet. But a lot of the time I’ll read reviews for a book that I know I don’t want to read or wasn’t planning on getting and then one day a publisher will approve it for me on Netgalley or Edelweiss and then I have a huge problem because I already have a premade opinion from all the reviews. It’s so sad ugh. Fantastic post, though, Celine! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Life of a Blogger (7): Favorite PlaceMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Haha, I have the same problem! When publishers don’t respond for a while I just read the reviews and then BAM I’m approved 😛

      Thank you!

  8. Tanja says:

    I too never, ever read reviews before the book. I do go through them and see rating, but mostly I just stay away if it’s the book I really want to read. But I’m not reading blurbs either as I see every book as new kind of adventure you’re going into blindfolded. It makes you experience everything on your own. Great post Celine 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…ARC Review: The Here and Now by Ann BrasharesMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      I almost never read blurbs either! Only when I’m absolutely and completely lost or when I’m trying to dcide whether or not I want to buy/request a certain book. But I ususally avoid blurbs as well because sometimes they spoil the book 🙁

  9. I’m actually the opposite to you! Sometimes I’ll read reviews if I’m curious about a certain book – otherwise I might not read it at all. If it’s a book I KNOW I’m going to read, I probably won’t read a review, but if it’s something I’m tossing up, I’ll go and check out a few opinions of people I trust the judgements of. Great discussion topic, it’s interesting to see how divided people are on this one 🙂
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…What Happened This Week: British relativesMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      I certainly do read reviews when I’m trying to figure out if a book is for me or not 🙂 If trusted reviewers hated it, I’ll probably pass, and vice versa 😛 Thank you!

  10. Lily says:

    This post is amazing because I’m exactly like this. When I first started blogging I read all the reviews for every book I was about to read but then soon after that I started to change my mind. when I read reviews for books im about to read it clouds my judgment of the book, even if I try for it not to. It simply does and that sort of ruins it for me.
    I tend to just stick to whats going on on twitter and see what people are saying there about books to decide whether or not to give them a go but I don’t tend to read too many reviews anymore until AFTER I’ve read the book myself or don’t plan on reading the book.
    Great thoughtful and insightful post.
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog
    Lily recently posted…5 Reasons Couples Are Better Than Love Triangles.My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yes, Twitter definitely comes in handy! When I see people constantly raving over a certain book I know I need to check it out, haha.

      Thank you!

  11. There are certain books I probably wouldn’t read reviews for, but for the most part, people are reviewing titles I won’t get too for a long time so I figure it’s okay. I won’t remember many of the details later; just whether people seemed to really like the book or not. However, all your reasons make total sense. I wouldn’t want to have my opinion un-intentionally swayed by reading reviews of a book I’m just about to read.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Theming Thursday: Lego Party!My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yup, I don’t mind reading reviews when my reading that book is far, faaaaar away! Like you said, I don’t like to read reviews of books that are coming up soon, though.

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  13. If I have already decided I will the read a certain book, I won’t read reviews of that book until after I’ve read it.
    I only read a review for a book I haven’t read if I hadn’t heard about it before and I’m trying to figure out whether it will be good enough to add to my huge to-read pile.
    Rochelle Sharpe recently posted…Fiction Friday: Review ‘Cruel Beauty’ by Rosamund Hodge.My Profile

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  15. YES, I do read reviews that I’m interested in, no matter whether I’ve read the books or not. And no, I do not just skim through the reviews, but I actually read every single lines.

    About unintentional spoilers, I totally understand what you mean, Celine. Strange thing is, nowadays I personally don’t really mind much about spoilers. I’m actually someone who’s guilty about it―I like to talk about BIG things that happened in a book, because if I don’t talk about it in my review, I feel like I cannot totally express my feelings & opinions about the book 😐 I always make sure to put a spoiler warning at the top of the post, though.
    Tirta @ I Prefer Reading recently posted…The Infernal Devices by Cassandra ClareMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      I can totally understand taht you’d want to discuss the big things! As long as you put a spoiler warning at the top of the post, that’s totally acceptable 🙂 It’s just so annoying when people don’t warn you when it comes to spoilers *sigh* Luckily, most people (like you) are considerate and DO warn their readers 🙂

  16. Charleen says:

    There are a lot of factors that go into whether I’ll read a review or not – have I heard of the book? is it a book I’m interested in? have I already read it? is it already on my TBR? how soon am I planning on reading it? do I know and trust the blogger? – but I typically err on the side of caution for those books I know I’m going to read, and the sooner I’m going to read it, the more cautious I am.

    And I’ve never even thought of the intentional tag-team spoiler thing before, but that’s a good point! Luckily that’s never happened to me. I guess when it’s a book that’s getting reviewed all over the place, I’m either not interested in the book or I’m interested enough that I’m purposely avoiding those reviews.
    Charleen recently posted…Bookish (and no so bookish) Thoughts – #13My Profile

  17. Stephanie B says:

    Now that I think about it, I don’t usually read reviews for books I own. This is mostly because I either don’t need to (because I’m positive I’m going to like it) or because I’m afraid a review might make me not like it.
    Stephanie B recently posted…Book Panic Strikes AgainMy Profile

  18. I kind of see what you mean here, Celine. Reading someone else’s opinion before we test (or read) a product will undoubtedly leave some sort of bias or influence over us. That’s inevitable. But weirdly, I have this thing going on with me where If I could avoid duds, I would, and that’s why I love reading reviews of books I haven’t read yet, just for that assurance I won’t be wasting my time. This is only for ARCs, though, as I have SO many. But for books like sequels and such? You’re right, I don’t read them. That’s an all different story! 😀

    Great post!
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…ARC Review: The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead – LOKI LOKI LOKI LOKIMy Profile

  19. Joanna says:

    Dude, I am so easily impressionable (>.<)
    That's why I stopped reading reviews for books I absolutely know I'm going to read and review. Because, like you said, if they emphasize something that bothered them or even something they really liked… It changes everything. Because forgetting really is impossible with these things :/
    The only reviews I read now are for books I've already read, or books I'm not sure I want to read yet. Then I skim them because it's harder to remember and focus on things you barely registered (:
    Joanna recently posted…Top Ten TuesdayMy Profile

  20. I only read reviews for books I’ve already read (and reviewed) or for books I’ve never heard of.

    I’ve had books spoiled for me so I’ve learned my lesson. To be fair, we don’t all consider a ‘spoiler’ to be the same thing. I consider anything related to the plot that is not mentioned in the blurb to be a spoiler. I’ve seen too many reviews that summarize part (or most) of the book.
    Brianna (The Book Vixen) recently posted…Write On Review-a-Thon {2} Sign UpMy Profile

  21. Nope. I very rarely read reviews of books I’m going to read soon, precisely because of the reasons you mentioned–I can figure out what people means sometimes plot-wise (and that’s not even counting the AWFUL people who put spoilers in their reviews without warning), and I don’t want them to color my own opinions of a book. I will make an exception from time to time if it’s a reviewer I know very well and whose style is more of the “make up your own mind, here are the pros and cons” kind. Or I might read it if I’m undecided about a book or had no interest in it anyway. When it comes to reading blogs, I often skim for overall opinions if I’m reading it soon so that I can speak to that at least, even if I haven’t yet read the book myself.

    Man, that was a long comment.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Discussion: The Luckiest Girl + April book announcementMy Profile

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