Book Reviews and Goodreads – helpful?

This is the last in my planned posts about Goodreads. I’m not going to talk about how people should review books, or whether you are obligated to review books. I’m going to talk about what I’ve observed as the best and worst of the three kinds of book reviewers, and why doing a review on Goodreads is helpful.

Why people review books

The G from the GoodReads logo

There are all kinds of blog posts and discussion forums about book reviews and why people post them.  From what I’ve read, it seems to come down to three  types of reviewers with individual purposes.

Professional reviewers

This group is interested in providing readers with a thoughtful analysis of the book plot, character and theme .  At their best, they do just that and allow their readers to decide on the merit of the book.

At their worst, they can be literature snobs. slamming a book because it is in a popular genre or not nominated (at minimum) for a literary prize.

Review bloggers

Readers who are so passionate about books that they take the time to post reviews and opinions about their favorites. Their reviews range from thoughtful essays to emotional reactions. The most popular sites have teams of reviewers who take on all kinds of genres. At their best, they are a great source of information on new books and  new authors as well as  established authors and popular books.

At their worst, they can be riddled with spoilers and in-jokes that don’t help a reader to choose a new book to enjoy.

Readers who love to share

This group doesn’t have a review blog, but they  are willing to post a review on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, B&N, Goodreads, Shelfari, or what ever they can find. At best these people are passionate and excited, leaving balanced and honest reviews of books they love – or hate.

At worst, they can just gush or hate. This means a prospective reader doesn’t get any information from the review to help them. If someone tells me they just LOVED the book, I need to know them to understand what that means to me.

A common issue to all

No matter who is posting the review – yes, you professionals, this includes you! – they make it about the author not about the book. Transferring your opinion of the book to the author is of no use to me as a reader.

 Posting a review on Goodreads

Posting a thoughtful review anywhere is a kindness to readers and authors. Thoughtful doesn’t mean good, it means honest and informative. Doing it on Goodreads adds a little special value. If your favorite author has set themselves up properly, the review you post on their book – the one you put on the book, not on a review group – will feed through to Kobo automatically. This spreads your advice across a much wider audience.

I have some rules about reviews I post. As an author, I think there is a different light shone on my reviews.

  • If I can’t give 3 stars at least, I don’t post a review. I worry that I’ll look like I have an agenda.
  • If I post a review, I post it far and wide, but not on my blog. I think putting it on my blog looks like sneaky self promotion

I am guilty of a gushy review every once in a while. I’m human after all.

So, what’s your take on reviews. Do you have pet peeves? Do you use reviews to find books?