I sometimes find book reviews more frustrating or annoying than helpful.
I used to not even be one to read the synopsis of a book on the back cover. If I wanted to read a book, I would read the book from front to back and did not care for any pre-spoilers. The author, the name of the book, and the cover were enough for me to know whether or not I wanted to read the book and if I wanted to read the book then who cares what other's opinions of the book is or what the synopsis says. I don't want spoilers and synopsis' always tended to say to much in my opinion.
When I was younger we used to get a Christian book magazine in the mail occasionally and the books would always have a tiny little blurb. I would go through the magazine, and since I knew I couldn't buy all the books, I would just read the blurb. I became convinced after reading enough of the blurbs that all Christian historical fiction had a similar story line and ending, but that is beside the point. I decided I no longer needed to read the book after I had read the blurb because I now knew basically what was going to happen.
Reviews often times aggravate me in a different way then the synopsis.
Sometimes a review can be genuinely helpful. In which case it should tell me if the book is well written or not, or if the content is appropriate or if it is PG13 and why. Book reviews do have the ability to give me helpful information in deciding whether or not I want to read the book for myself. However, I am often more frustrated then helped and this is why.
Some book reviews are just full of hatred and venting. Beside the fact that the reviewer probably did not read the book in the way that the author intended the book to be read in the first place, they go on and on about how much they hated the book and also possibly the author. It is ok to dislike a book or disagree with the message the author is giving, but there is a polite way to say it and there is an impolite way to say it. Moreover, if you are really truly disturbed by a book, most likely no one is forcing you to finish it, so put it down and find a book you will truly enjoy and can speak positively about. Life is too short to be reading books you absolutely hate.
Some book reviews are full of spoilers. Some reviewers find it necessary to give an essay length synopsis of a book and by the time I reach the end of the review, I feel like I have no interest in reading the book myself. Unless the express purpose of the review is for allowing the audience to know what the book is about without having to read it their self then I would recommend not giving away all the details of the book.
Sometimes reviews give irrelevant information. The reviewer states they disliked this or that about the book even though the problem they address really is completely irrelevant. It's as if the reviewer believes they could have written that book better than the author, so they decide the author shouldn't have written this or should I have said this instead. The author can choose to write the book however she/he chooses to write it. We, as a reader, do not get to choose how the author decides to write the story.
Lastly, sometimes book reviews are just depressing. I have read book reviews of books I have already read and know I love just for the fun of reading others opinions. But to my great horror, I discover not everyone loves the book. Lets take, for example, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, one of my favorite authors and favorite classics and one that almost everyone knows. I love the book and I love the talent that the author portrays in writing that book. I can try to understand if someone finds the book a bit slow or boring or just not their genre, but when the reviewer can't even acknowledge the author's talent and, in fact, shoots down all classics, that is just depressing. Classics may not be your favorite genre, Pride and Prejudice may not be your favorite book, but there is a reason why certain books are still being read today an why they are called classics. You may not prefer the style or the content, but there should at least be an acknowledgement of that persons gift and talent.
I realize that my opinion of book reviews (or synopsis) may not be a popular opinion. Maybe I am even missing the whole point of a book review. What are your thoughts on book reviews? Do you like to read them before reading a book or do you find them unhelpful? What kind of review do you find helpful and what are the things that drive you crazy? I would love to hear other's thoughts. Do you know of a website or blog that does helpfully informative book reviews? If so, please share with me.