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reading without prejudice

Poll #532219 Taking Reviews Seriously?

Are you turned off an unread (by you, natch) book if the positive reviews quoted on the cover are all or mostly taken from papers you don't like (particularly right-wing ones like the Torygraph)?

Kind of
I don't notice/care about reviews
I hate books. Go away, you speccy swot

I say this because I review a lot of popular/social history books, and I am always turned off ones whose author has been previously praised by the likes of the Mail, even before I start reading them. Am I mad?


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 14th, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC)
I read your first part and thought "well not so much the Torygraph, but definitely if The Mail's read it and liked it, that's not really a good thing", so I completely understand!
Jul. 14th, 2005 12:27 pm (UTC)
I think I notice it especially with films and DVDs. The choice of a glowing review from, say, the Sun or the Daily Mail, as the only thing to be quoted, is guaranteed to make me think twice.
Jul. 14th, 2005 12:28 pm (UTC)
It depends a bit on the book - some books (especially novels) are so damn brilliant that even terrible newspapers can't help but acknowledge it. But I'm a lot more wary on non-fiction, particularly if it has a political side. I do try to keep an open mind, because I've met perfectly reasonable people who earn an honest penny as stringers for newspapers like The Times of London, and the Guardian occasionally gives good books ridiculously snide reviews. But I don't keep such an open mind that I'd be likely to pay good money for non-fiction that only the Telegraph and the Times liked.
Jul. 14th, 2005 12:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm the same with fiction. It's just, as you say, if something has a political element - and social or cultural history usually does - and the Spectator (which, for example, recently ran a cover story equating German anti-Americanism with anti-Semitism and Nazism) loves it, it may not be my sort of thing.
Jul. 14th, 2005 12:34 pm (UTC)
I seldom read them; the reviews.
Jul. 14th, 2005 12:37 pm (UTC)
I always read reviews - maybe I'm so insecure I need to have my opinions validated or something! Which considering I'm actually a professional critic myself, is a little worrying...
Jul. 14th, 2005 12:38 pm (UTC)
That's probably why; checking out the competition!
Jul. 14th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC)
I'd say it sounded more like professional courtesy - you read them, then maybe they'll read you?
Jul. 14th, 2005 12:54 pm (UTC)
Like everyone else said, if I pick up a book on politics or some such and a reviewer in the Mail has said it "provides a seminal insight into the way the world works", then it's probably going back on the shelf. With fiction, it's more the words used to describe the book, though I might also note the name of the reviewer - fiction is more personal than tribal, I suppose.
Jul. 14th, 2005 01:10 pm (UTC)
I think it really depends on the subject, the author, and my own personal interest in the book. With films, reviews don't bother me at all, I base my decision to view based on an overview of the story.
Jul. 14th, 2005 01:11 pm (UTC)
If it just gives the publication name I wouldn't be put off. But if a book was praised by, say, Richard Littlejohn, I'd expect to hate it, partly because I know they'll only give him books of a certain slant to review anyway.
Jul. 14th, 2005 01:21 pm (UTC)
I find that when somebody is famous enough for me to know his or her ideological stripes, he or she usually gets to be alone on the book cover, sans publication name...

But definitely, if all the praise came from right-wing outlets I'd not want to read the book.
Jul. 14th, 2005 02:35 pm (UTC)
I just want to go around saying "speccy swot!"
Jul. 14th, 2005 03:05 pm (UTC)
Definitely. And the converse - I've read many books that I only picked up because I liked the authors who were quoted on the book.

No, I do have opinions of my own, I swear!
Jul. 15th, 2005 09:51 am (UTC)
I have also been known to avoid books if they have review quotes from authors I can't stand.

I picked up a cheesy looking mystery book the last time I was in one of the English language bookshops and thought it might be an entertaining piece of crap and then looked at the reviews and saw that Dan Brown was recommending it and promptly put it back down.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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