November 16, 2013

Do Other Readers' Opinions Influence Yours?

Honestly, I think that everyone's opinion influences someone else's. If you read a book and review it, chances are high that if five people read your review then read the book, three of those five people will agree with you. For instance, when I read a book with a buddy, I feel like my opinion (and theirs) influences us all greatly - and if we talk it out, it becomes our opinion too.

We're like this big mass mind of book reviews. Now, this is no way meant to be offensive, but all of the beloved books of the world - did you hear about them from a rave review? Did you ever wonder if maybe possibly... I don't know. Their review influenced yours, and suddenly it's like a big hive mind?

Maybe if you hadn't read that particular review (or any review of that book) before you started it, you would have formed really good, uninfluenced thoughts about it. But... I always kind of wonder if every review you read taints your perception of that book. That maybe subconsciously, we didn't really love that book - we only liked it, but because every one else loved it, we were tricked into thinking that we loved it too.

But that could also go vice versa. If you read a LOT of reviews, both good and bad, for each book that you read, does that mean that NONE of their thoughts influence you, just like if you'd never read a review of it in the first place? It's such a hard call. Personally, if I know that I'm going to read a book soon, I avoid pretty much all reviews of it. Personal preference and all that. But do you think that other peoples' thoughts and opinions influence yours? Discuss!


  1. That's a lot of good points! I know that when I have real life book club I can go in with one opinion and walk out with a slightly different one because of points people made that I hadn't really seen before.

    For blogging it seems to be different. For one, I don't really remember the reviews well enough for them to influence my review or my thoughts. And like you said, when I read a mixture of good and bad reviews it just makes it so I have no idea what I'm going to think about a book. I suppose if I see only good reviews then there's a stronger chance I'll be disappointed just because my expectations are high.

    I do think that after I read a book I shouldn't read any reviews before I write my own review because it might accidentally influence my own review, which I don't want.

    Great discussion!

  2. I usually read books if they're such a big hype that I develop a curiosity; I can't help it, lol!
    Ooo, and I notice you're reading These Broken Stars. I actually liked it when I read it (except I just haven't posted the review yet). Hope you enjoy it! :3

  3. I thought about this issue a LOT. Fact is, I don't read reviews for a book I want to read until after I read the book. Like, I check ratings to see if it's generally liked or generally hated, but I don't read the review. That way, I know that if I loved or if I hated it, it's mostly by my own opinion and doing. Because sometimes, I go back to a review I wrote a year ago and be like "you know what, I should've given this less stars" and then I start wondering what has changed - have I become harsher, or am I now more objective because I don't have all those other opinions effecting me about it?

    But I do think the influence you're talking about affects only "slight" difference between the reader and the reviewer. For example, if I read a book after a rave review and I HATED it, nothing will change the fact I hated it. But if I liked it+ and this reviewer loved it and points out all the good things about it, I might be all like 'you know what, yeah, it IS pretty good' and up my ratings.

    The greatest influence a review has, actually, is probably in the decision of reading or not reading the book (unless we're talking about an "average" rating, in which case it can go either way)

    We are influenced by opinions around us, but not enough to completely flip sides. At least, that's my take on things.

    And now I babbled enough on the subject :)

  4. You have a good point there. I see this definitely when I buddy read books. I still have my own opinion about the book but I'm almost always agreeing with the person I'm reading the book with and vice versa.
    One thing I hate, though, with hyped up books like Twilight, The Hunger Games and absolutely Fifty Shades of Grey, is that there are a lot of people who hate on it, not because they didn't like it but because it's so hyped up they don't even give it a chance. Some people write bad reviews about it without even reading it or maybe just reading a chapter or two and giving up. That sucks. =/

  5. I think it works in the opposite way for me. I might be on the fence about a book, but then a friend who hated it will say the reasons why they did and I'll be like "yes. That's everything I was thinking, but couldn't form into words". I do get more excited about certain books because of friends, but I don't think it influences me that much really. Great discussion topic!

  6. I avoid reviews for books I'm really excited for, or am reading very soon, like the plague. It's not so that my opinion isn't influenced, but more about hiding from pesky spoilers. I do take a look at the ratings though, and I think in some ways, just that influences my opinion of the book while reading. But it tends to be in the opposite direction.

    If I see a ton of 5 stars, then my expectations get way too high, even if I try to keep them down, and then I'm usually a little disappointed. Same for lots of 1s and 2s. I'll expect the worse, and I might read and think "well, that wasn't so bad." It's very strange how others can influence us even when we try not to be influenced.

  7. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 17, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    LOL! I do that as well - usually I have a good idea of what I want to read, but if I hear a lot of good (and bad!) things about a book, I'll get really curious and want to read it. I liked it - but I'm not sure what the overall rating and such is going to be. It was way weird! Thanks for commenting!

  8. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 17, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    Thanks! I've never been to a real life book club - is it fun? That is a good example, though. Other people make such eloquent points when talking about books - it's sometimes hard not to see what they're saying as fact!

    Ah, I get that - I have a hard enough time remembering what I thought after writing a review, so I guess it's the same for you after you read a review - it gets pushed to the back of your mind. Thanks, Candace! :)

  9. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 17, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Haha, that totally makes sense! I do that as well, after I've written a review for a book, I'll read a friends' review and be like "YES YES YES" LOL. Thanks, girly! I'm glad you liked it. :)

  10. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 17, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    If I know that I'm going to read a book soon, I'll totally avoid reviews - so I definitely know what you mean! I'm not much for ratings, though. Everyone has a different opinion for ratings, LOL. I DO THAT ALL THE TIME. I even wonder if like, somewhere in your subconscious, the book feels get dulled. The longer it's been since you read the book, the more the feelings dull. Like, there are some books that I gave two stars, (which as you know, is "okay") and I think about them and think "I hated that book" but when I reviewed it I thought it was okay! It's like a weird dulling of emotions.

    YES. That's what I was trying to say! IF I hate a book, nothing can change my opinion, that's for sure. Kind of like our Hush, Hush talk - I still like it, even though you've pointed out flaw upon flaw for me to ponder - and it's forever a good book in my mind. That's the kind of influence that's different. LOL.

    Your "babbles" are always welcome here, Nitzan! I loved reading it, and your take is great! :D

  11. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 17, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Thanks! I'm glad that someone else sees it - I was starting to wonder if I was the only one! I love buddy reads, but I feel like it's a problem to always agree, LOL.

    That does suck! I didn't even know that happened - see how oblivious I am?! I try to give everything a chance, no matter how many bad reviews I've read about it. Who knows, I might be someone who loves it! O.o

  12. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 17, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    OH. Spoilers are terrible! I hate when I get spoiled on a book. Haha, I completely understand that too - my expectations of "five star books" are THROUGH THE ROOF. I hope that someday we discover a way to not be so easily influenced. :)

  13. I really try to keep others' opinions from affecting mine, and sometimes when I'm deciding on a star rating for a book, I will second guess my first decision because I think it might have been influenced by how I know someone liked/disliked the book.

    I think every single opinion of a book that we read has some kind of impact. Whether that impact is to read/not read the book or how much we liked it is a case-by-case thing--but I think it's true. It sure is fun being the dissenter when everyone else loves a book, though. :)

  14. I'm not sure. I often read a book that all my friends loved and I'm wondering what the hell they loved about it! So I don't think I'm unduly influenced. I think sometimes if a book has tonnes of great reviews then I go with super high expectations and get let down. Whereas if I picked the book up cold, I might have enjoyed it more as I wouldn't have such high hopes for it. I love that moment when I agree with my friends that a book is special and we can all fangirl together though! Like you I avoid all reviews of a book I plan to read soon. If I'm considering buying a book though, I do read reviews and most books do get on to my wishlist from reviews so reviews influence my book buying but I don't think my own ratings or reviews. Great post, you made me think there!

  15. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 18, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Haha, I don't really do that. I slave over stars, but in general I don't worry that my rating has been influenced - just my opinion on the book. :P I'm terrified that someday people will stop writing unique reviews, because everyone will feel the same about every book! O.O

    I definitely agree with you there - it's fun to be the dissenter, and I think that everyone's thoughts on a book are influenced. No one starts out COMPLETELY free of other opinions, unless you've heard nothing about the book, don't read reviews and don't have a blog - then you might be untainted. ;) Thanks for commenting!

  16. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 18, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Hahahaha I do that too! Sometimes I just don't understand how people can love certain books. It's a problem. I get let down all the time! I love that moment too - it's the best thing ever! Non-bookish people just don't understand!

    Reviews definitely influence my book buying, and even personal recs will do that too, even without a review. Thanks!

  17. Well, I do believe that we all have similarities in our rating systems - 3 is usually "average" (I enjoyed it, but it was nothing incredible), 5 is AMAZING I'M IN AWE OF THIS CREATION! and 1 is awful, burn this book kind of bad. So I kind of go by this belief when I check the ratings...

    It's weird going through past reviews, isn't it? There are some 2 stars book I hated but never had the heart to rate one star that I look at today and I'm like... 'I should've one stared this bastard". Or vice versa. Or just all my half stars. I stare at them today and I'm like "did this book really deserve that half star, or did I give it because everyone else LOVED this book and I got effected?... it messes with your mind!!

    Haha, thank you! I love you <3

  18. I think that the longer you're away from a book, the more certain you can be about your feeling toward it. There are some books, that all I can think about when someone utters their name is the negative. Then there are some books that I'm still blown away and as excited about today as I was when I read them.
    Then, there are those I don't remember much. (And those are the 1 stars, the 5 stars and the 3 stars of my existence, though sometimes the rating I gave them before isn't accurate)

    I find it interesting that if you asked me today, there are some 5 star books that I will look at and will no longer be sure if they are 5 stars, because if my feelings can get dulled about them, then surely they didn't struck a cord in my heart as I thought they did to begin with.

  19. I avoid reviews of books I'll be reading soon so that I don't copy any of their words because they sink in to my subconscious but I don't think it necessarily influences my opinion. I've picked up loads of books because of rave reviews only to end up thinking, "Why is this book so loved? I don't think it's anything special."

  20. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 26, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    The opposite is true for me, reviewing wise. The longer I wait to review a book, the less certain I am about it! But if my review is written, I'm guaranteed to feel strong about it. Weird, right? LOL. I'm glad that there are still books that you're blown away and excited about! :D

    I have a lot that I don't remember too well. Sad, right? I KNOW. Those are such sad moments, when you realize that the original five star book is no longer five stars. :/ Why is it interesting that I asked you three days ago? :P

  21. Megan@The Book BabeNovember 26, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    They sink into my subconscious too - it's a curse. Well, I'm glad that you shared your opinion - that's been happening to me too lately. Everybody loves this recent book that I just don't like. :/

  22. Oh, no, you misunderstood - I'm less certain about what I want to say about a book and how I'm going to review it the longer time between the reading and the reviewing. But the feel... that gets a bit more clear.

    It might be sad to admit, but part of the reason I review books is so that I could be reminded of what I thought and how I felt about the book later on :/

    Haha, I meant the general 'if someone asked me today', some of the five stars on my blog might not be 5 stars anymore.

  23. Ah, okay. That makes more sense! And yep, that's pretty much true for me as well! :P I think that it's why suddenly every book is getting lower ratings - I'm waiting longer to review them, so they get a different rating than they would if I did it immediately. :)

    That's not sad at all! I hear that a lot of people do that. :)

    Okay, like which ones? ;P I'd love to know! Is Pivot Point, or This Song Will Save Your Life still a five star?

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