I've always been a firm believer in the power of recommendations. A lot of my friends aren't particular book nerds and frequently enjoy a recommendation of something that I think would appeal to them. Since becoming a member of the book blog and book reviewing communities, my view on reviews has changed a little. Recommendations these days are pressured by hype; I've even heard myself say "I haven't read it, but I've heard it's good." Funny, because I don't always LOVE hyped books the same way other do. (For more on hyped books, read Grace's post here).
Now as a reviewer, I've found that I don't like to read reviews as much before reading books, or after reading them and before reviewing them. Other peoples reviews can influence my outlook on the book. The last thing I want to do is be swayed by someone else's ideas. I do like to read other peoples reviews after reviewing the same book, because it's always interesting and enlightening to be informed about what they took from the book, because it so often differs from my take away. Reading other bloggers reviews reinforces my thoughts on what different bloggers think. I must talk about this a lot on this blog, but it's obvious that bloggers most likely look for different things in books; we're all different people. But those things skew reviews and ratings. I may love a good mystery and inticrite descriptions, while other bloggers may hate that but love cheesy relationships and high school settings. Everyone has different preferences, and that's okay.
I hate recommendations like "Oh my gosh this book is so good, you have to read it!" Who has to read it? What sort of demographic is it geared for? What's the genre? Pace? Romance level? There are so many different aspects of a book that "this is so good" just doesn't cover.
I mentioned above that I like to recommend different books to my friends. I always make a point to recommend things that I think they would like based on what they've like in the past.
John Green is a perfect example of this. I might really enjoy his writing style and ability to evoke emotions (I'm pointing to you Looking For Alaska), but one of my good friends hates romance and contemporary. She likes vampires and horror, so I recommended her things like that.
The book community often becomes obsessed with a certain series or author, and thinks that everyone must love them. Yes, I adore Harry Potter and if we don't love it at the same capacity we probably can't be good friends, but not everyone likes fantasy, and that's cool. A lot of people love The Hunger Games Trilogy, but I only like the first book.
Sometimes I feel like the nerd community, particularly the book nerd community are hypocrites. We pride ourselves by not enjoyed mainstream activities as much and by being nerds, but within our own community we don't always support authors and books that aren't popular or featured in the New York Times. Some of my favorite books, The Probability of Miracles, Ultraviolet, Dark Mirror, The Girl With the Borrowed Wings, aren't as well known, and I've never met or read reviews from anyone else who has even read them, much less liked them as much as I did. Booknerd community, we need to fix that! There are so many gems that are hidden by the glare of hyped books.
My last note in this post is sort of a personal opinion. I don't always like to read blurbs of books. Actually, I prefer to not read the blurbs. I adore going into a book blindly. I feel like I'm more intune to the details (since the weren't already provided for me) and read more carefully, and overall enjoy the book more. But Remy, how do you choose what books to read if you don't read blurbs? Now don't get your panties in a twist, I do sometimes read reviews. But I also have trusted authors, recommendations from friends or reviewers who have similar tastes as myself, series' that I haven't finished, and genre's that I tend to like. This is just a personal thing, and I certainly think that blurbs are a positive thing. I know that a lot of people enjoy using them to figure out what books they should read.
Wow, that was a fun post. Sort of random, but I was feeling inspired. Haha.