Booking Through Thursday: Reading the reviews

Do you read book reviews? Do you let them change your mind about reading/not reading a particular book?

I’ve subscribed to the NYT Book Review for a number of years and, off and on, a variety of other book review (Bookforum) and book-oriented (The Believer) publications. And, of course, I have a number of book review and book-oriented blogs in my RSS reader.

If I know I am going to review a book, I don’t read reviews of it to avoid any sort of predisposition or influence. I also don’t read the reviews until after I have written my review.

Otherwise, I read a large number of reviews but their effect varies. Sometimes, it is simply that I don’t think the book will interest me. Other times, a favorable inclination created by one review may be offset by a couple others and vice versa. As much as I hate to admit it, though, I don’t really pay too close attention to who may have reviewed a book in the NYT or elsewhere to see what their track record with me might be. Like with the books themselves, there’s so many reviews and so little time.

…the prolonged,indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job [that involves] constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feelings whatever.

George Orwell, “Confessions of a Book Reviewer

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