the problem with reading reviews…

… before you’ve finished the novel is this: you lose interest.

I know I’ve referenced Goodreads more than a few times on here. And I do love it. I’ve found several books that I might not have read otherwise… plus this 800 word prequel that Rowling wrote about James and Sirius that was pretty cute. But the problem with Goodreads is that I read reviews of books before I’ve finished them. In the case of Anna Karenina this was helpful. I realized other people in the world loathed this novel as much as I did. One reader even admitted to tossing his in a fire upon completion (I haven’t done that… I don’t think I could).

Other novels I’ve read reviews of didn’t really bother me because I didn’t care about them too much. So the reviews were merely entertaining and didn’t affect my reading too much. And then there’s this book

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

I want so desperately to like this book. I started it on December 7th and there’s no way it should take me 7 days to read. But I just can’t get into it. I mean Ms. Russell writes some beautiful pieces. Collections of words and phrases that thrill me. But this story is just plodding along and making me want to cry.

I read one of her short stories last semester in my Fiction I class. “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach” found in The Best American Short Stories 2010. I think our overall reaction to the story was that it was bizarre and dense. I mean, Karen throws in polysyllabic words one after the other like it ain’t no thing. And after two paragraphs filled with heavy words and phrases I just find myself really really tired.

So, I’ll finish it. But I may need to pick up another book and start reading two of them simultaneously. I only have 17 days left after all.


6 thoughts on “the problem with reading reviews…

  1. I try not to read reviews of books I haven’t read before. Sometimes when I read a book I’m enjoying… and read this bad review that points out some things that are true and suddenly I start doubting my own enjoyment.

    So I tend to only give some reviews a brief sweep just out of curiosity. I’ll read the reviews of my Goodreads friends more then the others but quite strangely which goes against the whole point of writing one… I read more reviews of books I have already read.

    1. It’s this weird thing. I never plan on reading the reviews… I just start doing all this perusing and end up falling down the rabbit whole so to speak.

  2. I don’t so much mind reading good or bad reviews before, during or after reading a specific book …
    What bugs me the most is when the review is a total spoiler. I don’t want to know who kills whom or when or where. :(*

    1. The spoilers are quite killer. I don’t often read mysteries or thrillers. But I have had at least a couple plot points ruined for me before. I find though that when I’m reading academically I’m not as annoyed with spoilers. In fact I feel like it helps keep me on track if I know certain parts of the book are on the way and I need to read them by a certain date.

      1. Yup! I always… Always write reviews that do not spoil the book as far as spoilers go .. Although I can understand your point to reading other negative opinions …

        If I want to write a post that will spoil a book, I will put “Discussion” in the subject 🙂

      2. Yeah, I think the disclaimers and such are very helpful. The other day I came across a blog where someone had written out the last line of the book but in white text so that you could highlight over it if you wanted to read it. I thought that was very nice.

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