Opinions

Letting Other Opinions on Books Influence My Own

I struggle a lot with having my own dissenting opinions on things. This ideal has become especially prevalent in my reading, where I’ve begun solely reading books that have over a 4 star rating on Goodreads. While that high rating is certainly a good thing, it leaves a lot of room for having an unpopular opinion. With the average rating so high, any dislike for the book appears much more dissenting.

But what’s the problem with that, you ask? It always feels like I’m on the outside looking in, and I want to feel that same joy and excitement of finding my newest favorite read in ever single book I read (which is quite impossible). I can never settle with the opinion I have, and I let the thoughts of others shift my own opinions of my reading.

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I used to take joy on being on the outside, and I took pride in being what I called a “critical reader,” when in reality, it was just unfairly rating books. I wanted to be known for that, and I wanted it to be my branding. I emphasized small negatives of a book over the large positives, and never gave a book a five star rating. I had the mentality that no book was “perfect,” which a five star rating implied. I thought that a four star rating should be the cap to whatever I read, with the occasional 4.25 or 4.5 slipping through (which I hate now, because it makes it IMPOSSIBLE to find books that were real four-stars vs. books I thought were genuinely amazing).

But now, that same pride in being a “critical reader” has morphed itself into inflated reviews and false happiness in everything. While I’ll only increase my rating by a star at most, it’s still the premise that haunts me. I’m always scared to dislike things that others hold so dearly to their hearts, because I want to experience that magic too! I want to cry, laugh, and swoon over characters, artwork, and reveals. I want to be in that enthusiastic fan-base so bad that I force myself into it.

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For that reason, whenever I read a book, I always remember to double-check the reviews of others before publishing my own. I’ll read through the reviews of my friends, and read about their absolute love for the book. I’ll see new things they enjoyed and incorporate that into my review, even though it isn’t entirely true. Even when I talk about the book afterwards, I’ll compliment everything about it highly. I’ll talk about how excited I am for the next book in the series or the next author’s release, that I actually convince myself I am. I talk myself into this love so much that it becomes real.

But is it real? I create false memories that overcome the ones I had before and my original indifference becomes a faint memory of the past. What was real now seems like a false memory and what was a false memory now seems real.

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This idea has especially been relevant with the release of Serpent and Dove last year. I had just come to read it, and though it was a 3 star read at max. Nothing excited me about the book, but the more important part was that it excited other people. It was the breakout book of the year, and with the new merchandise, and cosplays, and hype for the series, I couldn’t help myself. I ended up going to the bookstore to purchase Blood and Honey the day it came out because of how much I talked myself into it.

But, I wouldn’t make this a blog post if I wasn’t trying to make a change. It’s taken me a while to grasp, but I’ve learned that it’s okay to have a different opinion. It’s unrealistic to like everything, and conforming can be toxic.

And while many of you might not be able to relate, I hope that you enjoyed this post! It’s a little more thoughtful than my normal ones just to switch things up. I promise I’ll be back with more fun stuff haha!!

Happy reading 🙂

-Allison

18 thoughts on “Letting Other Opinions on Books Influence My Own”

  1. I totally relate about wanting to join in on the hype! I read these books that people have been raving about, but when I finish them, I just feel sort of indifferent? And the same goes for books the majority of readers disliked. I enjoy some of those books so much, and I start reading Goodreads reviews, and my original opinion of the book starts to alter a bit until it eventually fits the general consensus. It’s not easy to have an unpopular opinion, but as you said, it’s completely okay if you do! Lovely post, Allison ❤️

  2. You’re not the only one who wasn’t a huge Serpent and Dove fan, most of my book club were underwhelmed! Every book is a matter of taste and everyone loves different things

  3. Just today I gave a 3-star review on a book that was 100 percent 5-star reviews. On the flip side, I recently read The Garden of Bewitchment by Catherine Cavendish, and gave it 5 fabulous stars, and I was just astounded that so many other people did not love the book.

    I’ve concluded it’s a reading-audience thing. I wasn’t the right person to read the 3-star book, and I was exactly the right person to read The Garden of Bewitchment. If I review with my gut instinct in mind and ignore others’ ratings, maybe that will help future readers narrow down their reading choices, matching the right audience with the right book. It’s a win-win for readers and writers.

    But yeah, it feels awkward being the odd person out in a collection of book reviews!

    1. Yes I totally agree with what you’re saying! It depends on the person, and varying reviews can be really helpful too for people who want to decide if they want to read a book or not. I personally will scroll through the reviews to hear what people have to say before reading a book, so it’s true that it helps people narrow down their choices!

  4. I think this was a great post and I thank you for writing it. Seems you started on one end, then flipped to the other, and now this time around perhaps you’ll find that happy medium that works for you. For myself, I think I understand some of what you’ve said. In the past I did sometimes find myself adjusting ratings after seeing what others rated something, thinking I must have missed something, or perhaps I actually liked it more than I realized. I had to sit and think, just as you’ve been, and come to the realization I’m not going to like everything the majority does, and they’re not going to like everything I do, and none of that invalidates either their or my opinions.

    1. Thank you! And yes, it’s super important to recognize! I will rethink my opinions in the exact same way you mentioned, and it’s important to not let that sway you too much.

  5. I’ve found the best way to review a book is to go in blind if you can without reading too many (or any!) other reviews. Then you’ll be able to tell your true feelings without influence. I know that’s not always possible. I’ve also learned that I don’t always like books that everyone else likes, and thats ok!

  6. This is a really great post! It was brave of you to talk about your past as an overly critical reviewer and open a discussion about how you (and probably other readers) have grown and changed in your relationship with your reading material. I wasn’t impressed by Serpent and Dove either, but I totally understand wanting to join in the hype.

  7. I think it’s huge and wonderful that you came to realize this on your own and that you’re taking the steps to stay loyal to yourself and your thoughts/feelings. I’ve always wondered if I wasn’t sometimes being too harsh or too kind with certain books and looked at other reviewers for “confirmation” but I’ve stayed away from being duped into creating “false” thoughts. It’s important that we all remain unaffected by others at the end of the day! 😉 Great post!

  8. This is so interesting! For me things usually work the opposite way – I’ll be really in love with a book, then go on Goodreads to share my love and see negative reviews from people I follow. I read what they didn’t like and it brings me down and makes me think the book wasn’t as good as I thought. Not that negative reviews are a bad thing! I’m just too sensitive 😅

  9. I’m all here for the more thoughtful posts! Those are probably my favorites to read; I love a good discussion!

    I actually stay well clear of other reviews before I have written and published my own, for that very reason 😅 I like my reviews to show my initial, unbiased thoughts that I had immediately after finishing a book. It makes it fun to go back and see what I thought!

    That doesn’t mean my opinion can’t be swayed, though. I mean, it probably won’t drastically change, either, but there may very well be a one star difference if someone brings up a good point I hadn’t thought of. Usually, though, this only happens to the book’s disfavor. If I thought something was terrible, you can’t convince me it was good 😂 But if you find some problematic aspects to my faves, it might sway my opinion a little…

    Still, I don’t think it really matters what types of reviews people write – if you want to include other opinions and make it more balanced, that’s totally valid, and might even give readers a more nuanced opinion! Writing my reviews before I read anyone else’s is just what works best for me personally 😊

    1. That’s a good idea! I’m trying to make it more of a habit to ignore reviews before I’m reading but sometimes it’s just so hard because I like knowing what I’m getting myself into haha. And it is fun to look back and see your true thoughts!

      And yeah I think it does depend on the type of review! Including other people’s reviews can lead to a nice analysis of the book as a whole, but writing reviews before seeing anyone else’s seems a bit more personal :).

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