Book Readers and Reviewers

e-book-1209040__340When digital devices invaded into our lives and living rooms, people thought books would lose their significance. Debates were organized to discuss and create awareness and a new generation of readers cropped up. Smart phones became their books and that was probably the turning point in the habits of readers.

There are three kinds of book readers.

First are those who read just for pleasure or to pass time. They don’t care to write woman-2701154__340reviews, as they take a book like a stranger who passes by. Characters don’t inspire them, as they look at them from imaginative perspective. They don’t dwell on their fictitious troubles, which are dismissed the moment they close the book. They don’t have any TBR list and read whatever they come across. They have a few favorite authors though.

Second are those who read a book just to review it. They are fast readers, may even skip many parts of the book, focusing on the elements that could be useful for their review. Emotions can’t sway them; words don’t move them and nuances of life fail to affect them. They can whiz through pages like a wizard; they can read all genres without a word of dissent. They can read multiple books at a time like a ball juggler. I call them super humans, with magical reading and reviewing skills. I envy them but am glad that I have never tried to be like them.

book-4133988__340 Then there are readers who approach a book like a friend. They fall in the third category. Reading is an experience for them; they connect with characters, feel the emotion of each one, savor the words and highlight what touches them. They are committed readers, in no hurry to finish a book. They choose their books carefully and don’t like to go outside their genre. Their reviews are critically framed, inclusive of good and bad aspects of author’s style and characterization.

Can you connect with one of these readers or are you a combination of all three?

Book reviews speak for themselves whether they have been written by a quick reader or a thoughtful reader; the former would just summarize a book, without going into finer details or saying anything about characters. They don’t care even if their review contains spoilers. I avoid reading any reviews of the book I pick up, as it is a pleasure to tread unknown paths and meet new people from the comfort of my favorite couch.

Do think giving one or two stars to a book is justified?

Recently I have read ‘Where We Belong’ by Emily Giffin and really liked it. But some reviewers have called it “the most appalling book”. This book has such varied reviews…from one star to five stars! I am astounded by the uncivilized language some of the readers have used while reviewing this book, which deals with emotions and relationships brilliantly.

Reviews acquaint us with our imperfections, if they are honest. They also provide a learning opportunity. I like a bad review too; if it is constructive and offers an in-depth analysis into writing. A good review is like a fragrant breeze that wafts around me for many days, boosting my creative juices.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

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Balroop Singh.










42 thoughts on “Book Readers and Reviewers

  1. I don’t think I’m into reviewing books. Over the last few years, I haven’t read many books due to paucity of time. I have just finished a book which I read on an ebook reader. The first one. I feel the book is easier on eyes than the screen.
    As for reviews, I feel it is always subjective. A review will always be biased because it is from a person’s perspective. Some people like stories which are slow, if reviewed by someone who loves fast-paced action story, he is likely to rate it adversely because of his preference. Another thing is that books have survived thousands of years, ‘m not sure if the digital medium can.

    1. I agree arv, reviews can be subjective and sometimes biased. To my mind, each book has its own pace and has to be read accordingly. Just because a genre is not to one’s liking doesn’t justify a biased review.

  2. I am not much of a reviewer, but I do read fast and try to connect with the characters of a book.

    I haven’t really thought about doing any reviews because I feel that it might take the fun off the experience if I plan to do a review about it.

    1. Nice to hear that Jomz and welcome to Emotional Shadows. Writing reviews is not easy and all readers don’t have the patience to put their thoughts together. It is a skill that has to be developed slowly. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  3. I usually reading three different kinds of books at a time. I’m a fast reader, too. Since I’m working on my own novel and writing essays and short fiction, it’s hard for me to make time for writing book reviews. However, in on my blog I like to include brief reviews of books I loved. I also plan to interview writers and other creative souls to explore the process of creating.

    1. Wow! three books at a time is an amazing reading! I can never start with another book before completing the one I am reading. For me, it is like watching multiple movies at the same time and quite stressful! I can never rush through a book.

  4. I think that I read most like the third example, but I rarely write actual reviews, sometimes writing about the books on blogs. If I read the reviews, it will usually be after I’ve finished reading the book, just to compare thoughts. At one time, I stayed mainly in the mystery genre, but then prodded myself to start taking turns with other types of fiction or even non-fiction. In the past few years, I joined a book club for which the members choose the books, thereby introducing me to new authors and genres, as well.

    1. Oh! Nice to hear that Becky, my sentiments exactly! I too read the reviews after finishing a book. Some times they are entirely different from my opinion. I think it also depends on the genre, as our favorite genres do get a favourable review. I like to read all kinds of books except horror and erotica. Paranormal doesn’t impress me, as it seems too far-fetched. Thank you for sharing your insights, much appreciated.

  5. I guess Balroop I read for pleasure, I do choose my books carefully and enjoy the un-foldment of a good saga be it Fictional drama, or romance, I do get caught up within the emotional journey and my husband will often pass me a tissue as I weep silent tears behind the pages..
    But as soon as the book is finished, so ends the drama.. And daily life kicks in, where often I will still shed tears for the reality of this world…
    Those who read and are able to review such good works of art also have a gift, a talent in condensing in a few paragraphs the story’s drama..

    Many thanks Balroop I hope all is well in your own world. Sending love and blessings this weekend ❤ 🙂

    1. Hi Sue, book lovers like you are getting extinct! I can connect with your emotions of getting carried away with the flow of a good story, packed with dramatic ups and downs. Thank you for sharing your lovely words 🤗♥️ have a wonderful weekend.

  6. What a brilliant post, Balroop! I certainly approach a book like a friend. This means even the ones with bad reviews, I give them a chance and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. Because reviews by their very nature are subjective.

    I can read fast or slow, depending on the mood and my own work load. But one thing for sure, I tend to read at least two books (different genres) at a time. 🙂

    Because I know hard it is to write a book, and also respect the writer’s effort, if I enjoyed the book I always try to write a review. Even if it’s a one-sentence review or failing which a rating on Goodreads. For those books that really impressed me, I write mini reviews from time to time on my blog as a way of a shout out.

    1. What a pleasure to have you here with such lovely words of wisdom! Welcome to Emotional Shadows Khaya. I am glad bad reviews don’t influence your choice of reading. I have read many such books and found them good whereas some best sellers and highly-rated books turn out to be average. I agree with you, writing a book involves a lot of work and it should be treated fairly. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, much appreciated.

  7. Interesting topic, Balroop. Some people earn a small living off of reviewing books, non-stop. They read multiple books in one week. I don’t know how they can possibly absorb or much less enjoy each book individually.

    I love to review books. It’s great writing and critical thinking practice. However, it isn’t a must for me. For very popular books, unless I have something different to add, I will simply rate the book. I also do think 1 and 2 stars is valid although I’ve rarely used them. I’m currently reading a blockbuster author (Heather Graham) and I’m shocked at how poorly written the book is for a NYT best selling author. It’s always important to consider if it’s just a ‘taste’ thing, too. If a book just isn’t to your personal taste but the writing and story etc. are well crafted.

    I’ve always cherished my books and keep my favorites forever and re-read them. So, you could say that I have some fictional characters that I consider my friends LOL. One last note; I have been taking books on loan from the library and this has encouraged me to read more often and a little faster to finish them 🙂

  8. Yes Lisa, I wonder how such reviewers read and review! Obviously they don’t enjoy the book, as they must be in a hurry to finish it but they may not agree with me. 🙂 I understand speed as I have one such friend who could discuss the book and knew all the details!
    I too have come across such highly rated books Lisa, and found them to be ordinary. Sometimes I wonder how could they earn that position! I agree with you, inspiration to read comes from many quarters. Since I became a member of KindleUnlimited, my reading has improved. Joining a book club has also helped me in reading more.

  9. I love reading and never find enough time to read as many of the books as I want to… To me, books are friends! I enjoy exploring them and learning from them. As a reviewer, I only post 4 and 5 star reviews, although I read many to which I would consider 3 star reads. I think that each reader/reviewer has their own standards and policies and I respect them for that.

    1. I wonder what we could learn from horror books! Those which drop subtle messages through characters are the books that appeal more to me where learning is concerned. Thanks for sharing your reflections Bette. You are so kind. I do post 3 star reviews, with critical analysis, if I finish the book. 🙂

      1. I stay away from horror! Others may love it, but I treasure peace and serenity. However, I do enjoy mysteries and some thrillers. :Thanks for giving insight into your review process, Balroop. Have a great week! ❤ xo

  10. Great post and discussion, Balroop. I would say I’m a mixture. I love to read and when I can get lost in a book, it’s magic. I do not stick to any one genre now, but do have favorites. I don’t waste my time reading a book that would get 1 or 2 stars, too many good ones out there to do that. I have ran across a few though. Yes, an honest review though is the best for an author and readers. In the end it is only my opinion, I know others could see it completely different.

    1. I agree with you Denise, each reader has his own perspective of approaching and understanding a book. You are a terrific reader! Thank you for adding your view to the discussion.

  11. I read for pleasure but I like to share about the books that I read on my blog. I post book reviews on my blog just because I like to talk about books 🙂

    1. Nice to hear that Shaloo. Posting our reflections about the books we read is also a learning experience, as we get to talk about the characters we meet. Thanks for coming over to share your view.

  12. Hi Balroop, I was not aware book reviewers may skip parts of a book. Wow! A multitude of thoughts surface. Not good thoughts. I connect more with the third category, although I will read a variety of genres. I think books are like children. They are often written over a long period of time infused with unconditional love. Then they are released into the Universe. Like you say, constructive criticism can be helpful and a learning opportunity. Unkind reviews containing uncivilized language would reflect more on the reviewer than on the book.

  13. Good analysis, Balroop. I guess I’m a combination. I get a lot of books for free with the understanding I will review them. So I’m that person. But I also love reading them–am carried away. I think that’s #3.

  14. Succint observations Balroop. I’m #3. I think many authors are, unless of course one has promised to read and review a book they normally wouldn’t read. I’ve stopped reading books long ago that aren’t in my preferred genres to read. With so little reading time, I have to be choosie about my picks. And I’m happy to say I really haven’t had to shelf more than 2 or 3 books I just couldn’t get through. If I can’t give a book 3 stars at least, I won’t publicly review it. I like to live under the ‘do onto others’ philosophy and not offend. 🙂

  15. I never reviewed books until I started publishing. Prior to that I’d share my thoughts with friends and family who had read the same book, but I didn’t understand how valuable reviews are to authors. Now I make a point to review every book I read, as long as I can give it a 3 star review or higher. I don’t like leaving bad reviews so I haven’t written any that would garner less than three stars, although honestly, most of those end up being a DNF anyway.

    I read for enjoyment and to connect with characters, but I don’t stick to one genre. I have my favorite(s) but I do venture into other genres when temptation calls. I love character-driven fiction, and psychological thrillers/suspense are my favorite genres, but I will happily devour others with just as much enthusiasm. So in answer to your question, I guess I am a blend of all three reader types above!

  16. I try to be flexible and stretch out of my genre at times yet I can’t approach horror that gives me nightmares! You are right Mae, only a writer understands the significance of reviews though they are becoming unreliable these days. 🙂
    Thank you for coming over to share your perspective, much appreciated.

  17. I used to read some books for the sheer pleasure of the words but as I get older I find there has to be a good story or I lose interest fast. I’ve read a number of the Booker prize winners which did absolutely nothing for me. There are billions of books out there. Something for everyone.

    1. I fly on the wings of words and re-read those parts of the book, which deals with emotions. For me, relationship with the characters is important. Thanks for sharing your lovely words 😊

  18. I’m almost always the third type of reader, though I didn’t write reviews until I started writing (I didn’t understand their importance). I love diving deep into a story and thinking about the characters even when the book is closed. Nothing better!

  19. I’m the third kind of reader, Balroop. I read like a book is my friend. She (the book) opens up worlds to me, and people, and emotions, and places, and…. you get the picture!
    I’m not “into” bad reviews and to be honest, I don’t read bad reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads (or at least not those with one or two stars). If a book is that bad, why is the person bothering to read it? If a reader gives a book 3 stars and has good reasons for the criticism (along with some points on how the book works), then I’ll read that review.
    Yes, I read Griffins WHERE WE BELONG and enjoyed it. In fact, I became friends with that book. So I don’t appreciate readers who for some unholy reason (jealousy? vindictiveness? not able to handle the subjects in the book?) put the book (my friend) ‘down’ when it was written well and with thought, emotion, and strength. ❤

  20. I got 2 stars for one of my poetry books and the reader was kind enough to mention the reason: “Yes, I understand you’re a teacher, but you don’t have to remind us every two lines by using excessive alliteration and unnecessarily lengthy words. As writers, we want to reach people, not push them away. Big words don’t make a big story.”
    Pam, I took this as a compliment and patted myself for developing good vocabulary. Thank you for sharing how you approach the books and adding smiles to my face. 🙂

  21. I think I am a category three reader. I may ultimately post a review, but that is not my main focus for reading a book. Good books become our friends. My personal library contains many old friends, whom I visit often. I would never part with a human friend, and I’ll never part with my literary friends. Their value is way more than their cover price. 🙂 Nice piece, Balroop, as usual.

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