Mid Monthly Musings: positive reviews

Once a month I thought I’d muse about something that has occurred to me and might be of interest.

This month my thoughts centre around reviews.  How do you review – the good and the bad?

As a reviewer I’m probably considered to be something of a raging softie.  Most of my reviews are positive and glowing and I have a high average rating on sites such as Goodreads (4.2).

Harsh reviews are not really my style – and that isn’t a criticism of other reviewer’s style but more a reflection of my nature.  Basically, I think I’m anti-confrontation and even if I start out a review that is a bit snarky I eventually work my way back and remove all the sarcasm. I think In that respect I’m probably a bit old school, you know, ‘if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all’ although I think I’m much better these days at including criticisms in my reviews.  But, more than that, over the years I’ve changed my reading ethos.

Years ago, if I picked up a book – I completed a book.  It was almost like a badge of honour or something.  Even if I really wasn’t enjoying that book, even if picking it up was slowly robbing me of my reading mojo and making me miserable, I’d press on to the bitter end.  And, let’s be honest, reading a book that you’re not enjoying does make you feel a little bitter and resentful.  I think part of this was also related to eternal optimism – like, any minute now this book is sure to pick up coupled with my ‘need to know how everything concludes’ personality.  But, really, how far are you going to read on before you come to the realisation that this book just isn’t for you?  How far do you read before deciding to put a book down?  This is where my change slowly but surely came about.  For me, life is too short to read something I’m not enjoying.  There are plenty of books out there and a lot of those books I simply know I’m going to love.  What there isn’t a lot of out there is time.  Time is a precious thing and something I want to use to make me happy whenever possible. Selfish much?

Now of course, that means that most of my reviews are positive (because obviously I still have the odd book where the desire to know the ending wins the battle over the ‘I’m not enjoying this and want to put it down’ battle).  Obviously this is a mixed bag because how can all my reviews be so positive?  Does this mean I have no real discernment?  Can I be trusted to write honest to goodness reviews that others can believe in?  I hope so and that’s partly what these musings are about.  Of course my reviews are mostly positive – I don’t read anything I’m not enjoying.  Of course, there is the odd spanner in the works where I’m really enjoying a book right up to the point that the ending takes a nosedive and goes totally crazy.  I do review such books – oddly enough those reviews where I have very mixed feelings are usually the most popular!

That brings me to another issue.  Negative reviews.  Yes, they are necessary imo.  They help to strike a balance and I admit that I always read the negative reviews along with the positive because it’s interesting to read other people’s take.  We’re all different after all and to find a book without any negative reviews is probably impossible.  I take my hat off to those people who press on and read a book to the end even if it’s a bit of a struggle.

There is an element to my psyche that thinks I should complete some of the books that I’m not really enjoying so that I might have some less than positive reviews.  But, you know, I just can’t do it.  It brings me down.

So, I’m not entirely sure where this month’s musings are going other than to get something out there that’s been on my mind for a little while.

What do you think?  Should I read the Good, the Bad and the Ugly?  How far do you read up to if you’re not enjoying a book?