Reviews are Always Subjective by Deb Joelle

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley – 3.80

Someday this Pain Will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron 3.75

Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock 3.97

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard 3.81

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 3.57

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta 3.83

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu 3.86

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister 3.76

Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma 3.84

Siesta Lane by Amy Minato 3.27

Wings by Aprilynne Pike 3.79

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko 3.97

See the number after each title? That’s each book’s average (five star scale) on Goodreads as of Thursday, April 22nd. Why did I post this list here? Because every single one of these books received 5 stars from me. I loved every one of these books so much, I signed onto Goodreads and added it to My Books and gave it a great review in the hope that other people would read it and love it too. And yet, none of them have a 5 star average. This is because not everyone loved these books as much as I do. Some did, some didn’t, some might have actually been all the way at the other end of the spectrum (I didn’t check that).

As you can see, each one of them has actually less than 4 out of 5 stars. What is WRONG with all those other people who didn’t give it 5 stars? I’ll tell you what. Whether someone likes a book or hates it or is somewhere in the middle, everything about them as a person AND as a reader will colour how they feel about it. Why? Because our tastes are SUBJECTIVE!

How do I use this info? Well, early on, the writer Sara Zarr told me something I’ve been hanging on to. I’m going to have to paraphrase her, but the gist of it is this: Everyone knows that bad reviews can sting and sometimes even damage your writing, but good reviews are not necessarily good for your writer self either. Good reviews are an ego-stroke and that can hurt you in other ways. It’s best just to ignore reviews altogether. I do want to point out that she was referring to blogger reviews, she does check out trade reviews.

It’s true that when a blogger writes a great review (like this one) and emails to tell me about it, I read it. I am weak. But I don’t seek them out. I turned off Google Alerts early on and while my husband does monitor it (which is good because he found this HILARIOUS bit about my upcoming signing in Portland), he generally keeps any reviews to himself.

So, now you’re probably wondering if I’m monitoring my Goodreads rating. Let’s just say I am aware of it. I have a contest going on over there and when I check to see how the entries are going, I see my score. And as of today, it’s a very respectable 3.94, which as far as I’m concerned, puts me in darn good company!

13 Replies to “Reviews are Always Subjective by Deb Joelle”

  1. I followed the link too – great line!
    And good job on putting the reviews in perspective. I adored some of the books on your list, too…

  2. I should mention that I only put books on my Goodreads list that I think deserve 4 or 5 stars (unless it’s a 3 star for a HUGE book, like Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest). I also tend to not rate people’s books I know. Sometimes people I know would only get a 4 star from me, and I feel too bad to put that up there, knowing they’ll see it! Haha! I am a tenderheart!

  3. I ignore GoodReads reviews altogether! To me, it’s more like a cataloging site, and I think a lot of people use more personal ratings systems for cataloging than at, say, Amazon. Like, in my music, I have stuff that’s 2 stars that I don’t hate–I just don’t want it showing up in rotations.

  4. I’m mostly using Goodreads for my contest, but I love it as a place to make a list of books I want to read that aren’t out yet or my library doesn’t have. Also, a few people have contacted me through it for interviews and stuff. It’s really hard to say how I’ll feel if/when I get a HORRIBLE review, but for the most part, I’m a pretty relaxed person and things like that just roll off me, so Goodreads doesn’t bother me. I don’t read any of the reviews though. I do like it for reading reviews of books I’m not sure about. Like if I’m fifty pages into something and I’m just not certain I want to carry on, I might look on GR and see what other people think.

    I do know writers who obsess over it and really get their feelings hurt. I find that sad.

  5. WhenI give a review on Amazon, I rarely give 5 stars. I always feel like that’s a dead giveaway of family or friends, especially when I see a book with 6 reviews, all 5 stars. Color me skeptical! I dread review time. I guess we all do.


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