So a couple of weeks ago at work, one of my co-workers asked me why so many of my reviews are positive. It wasn’t accusatory or anything, just curious. And to be honest, it hadn’t gone unnoticed by me that the majority of my reviews seem to involve a good rating and/or some kind of gif of people dancing. So to hear it asked out loud made me think, “Uh-oh, it’s not just me who has noticed this.” While it was easy to explain to someone who was standing right in front of me, it’s not so obvious to people who I don’t know personally. So here’s my explanation (and before I start, a disclaimer: they aren’t ALL positive…I’ve given some mediocre reviews and even some 2s, which i consider to be bad. But for the most part they do tend to be in the range of 4 or so).
First of all, I don’t pick up a book unless I’m pretty sure going in that I’m going to like it based on either the subject matter, genre, reviews, that it’s written by an author whose work I like, etc. Maybe that’s a fault of mine – I don’t read outside my comfort zone much. Seriously, it seems like if it’s not non-fiction, YA or horror I either don’t give it a chance or I bump it so far down the to-read pile that I never end up getting to it. So when I end up reading a book that I only rate a 3 or below, I’m usually pretty surprised.
Also, if I’m not enjoying a book then 19 times out of 20 I’ll just give up on it. Two recent examples: Chime, which I tried to get through in both print and audio versions before deciding that it just wasn’t for me, and Incarceron, which I gave up on pretty quickly because it just didn’t click with me at all. I know a lot of people see giving up on a book as something negative, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ll never get to all of the books that I want to read as it is. I don’t want to waste time on something I’m not enjoying. Therefore, I almost never actually finish a book I don’t like and I don’t do DNF reviews because I don’t think it’s fair to review something that I haven’t read cover to cover. I know a lot of people do review DNF books and that’s cool, whatever works for them. It’s just not something I’m comfortable doing. What if I had stuck with it and ended up thinking it was the greatest book ever, you know? And I gave it a crap DNF review that turned someone off of reading it? It was suggested that I keep a list of DNF books because it’s more fair/less harsh than an actual review and I think it’s a really good suggestion. I may do that. Because truly, I don’t like EVERY book I pick up.
And…quite frankly, I’m not that hard to please. Maybe that’s a bad quality in someone who is reviewing books, but I’m the pure entertainment kind of reader. I love blogs that do critical reviews and I have a few that I read every day, but that’s just not what I’m going for. If I were critically analyzing everything I read I’d end up hating reading because it would feel like a job or a chore. Things tend to fall into one of three piles for me – “loved the crap out of it,” “liked it well enough and it kept me entertained enough to read the entire thing,” or “didn’t finish.” That’s not to say I don’t have standards, because I do. But they’re low. Just kidding. It’s not low standards, I just judge more by entertainment than I do any critical measure.
Also, some of it is luck. I’ve been on one of the best book streaks ever in the past few months. Granted there have been a few I’ve picked up and put down without finishing them (including the ones I mentioned earlier) but since I’ve been reading the reviews of bloggers whose opinions I trust before I pick what to read next my reading life has improved dramatically. I still get the occasional stinker but they’re pretty few and far between.
Soooo…while most of my reviews do trend toward positive (usually 3.75 or better), they’re all legit ratings. Never fear!
How about you, do you find that most of your reviews are positive? Do you review DNF books?