Shannon Hale asked some interesting questions on her blog this past week, so I thought I'd attempt to answer, not that I'm any big-time reviewer or anything, but that it's interesting to ponder these things sometimes. (In order to understand the why of these questions, you'll need to for sure go read her post... basically, she's wondering why we rate, and why we have a need to say if we liked or didn't like a book, instead of just saying how that book touched our lives at that particular moment of reading.)
Some things to discuss for those of you who review books on blogs, amazon, goodreads, etc.:
1. Do you find that the anticipation of reviewing the book has changed your reading experience?
I would say a little. Sometimes I'll be reading and I'll find myself thinking.... hmmmm... I should say such and such about this... or... how will I explain this feeling I'm having now....
2. Are you rating the book even as you read? Or do you wait until the end to sum it all up?
I don't think so, because I don't even think of what grade (my system is to assign letter grade) to give it until I'm sitting down to write the review. But I am thinking about whether I'm liking it or not.... even as I read.
3. Does knowing you'll be reviewing it (or rating it) publicly affect which books you pick up in the first place?
For sure not. I still read what I want to read, just like always. If this ever changes, then it'll be a sad, sad day. If I do a blog tour, I've chosen to read that book. If I get sent a book to review, I'll only read it if I want to, and not out of obligation. (Which is probably why I'm not getting sent very many books to review AND why I don't go out and ask for them very much either.)
4. Does the process of writing the review itself change how you felt about the book?
No, but often I have a hard time finding words to describe how I feel about the book. This can get quite frustrating. Sometimes reading other people's reviews changes how I felt though.
5. What is your motivation to assign a rating to a book and declare it to the world?
Hmmm.... I have no idea. What IS my motivation? I assign a rating so it's easy for readers to see right off how I feel about a book. However, my ratings are pretty useless, since I tend to rate everything high, because I truly do like nearly every thing I read. There's perhaps some stuff that bugs me in a book, or something that maybe I didn't "get" but I always (almost) enjoy the experience, which is what I end up rating. Herein, I think, lies the gist of what Shannon was getting at. The experience vs. the book. Hmmm....
6. If you review a book but don't rate, why not? What do you feel is your role as reviewer? I'm very curious about all this and hope you feel free to speak freely (and kindly and respectfully, of course) even if you disagree with me.
My role as a reviewer is simply to share with whomever is interested, my thoughts about the book I just finished. And part of that sharing is to say, "I liked it." or "I didn't like it." But I will always try to say why. And it's definitely NOT the most important part of reading. It IS okay to NOT like a book, and even if one doesn't like a book, the experience of reading can still be wonderful.
And to end this little discussion, I have to quote a bit of Shannon's blog where she says this that I totally love: "After all, reader is more important than book. Reader is the one who changes from reading, not the book. Reader is the one who lives the magic of storytelling."
Maybe I should re-think my reviewing system? And begin rating the experience and the book separately?
What do YOU think? How would you answer these thought provoking questions?