Reviewing the reviews

Today I thought I’d talk about book reviews. There are two schools of thought about reviews:

  1. They don’t matter.
  2. They do matter.

Similarly, writers are advised to:

  1. Comb through your reviews for quotable quotes.
  2. Never, ever read your reviews. That way lies madness.

So today I want to share some of my finest review hours (of different books, if you’re wondering. I don’t think I’ve yet written the book that could elicit all of the following responses):

This book was very vulgar! Pornography is not my thing. The sex acts were very explicit and embarrassing. I thought I Was reading something historical. This was historical to the point of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The “relations” include scenes involving a corpse which is at best in bad taste and at worst borders on the necrophiliac.

… the worst character — ever. I hope she gets crotch rot. And dies.

…a thowback [sic] the vintage sleaze pulps of the 1960’s of which I am an avid collector.

Moral Note: Above, and heck, and “b” word in reference to breeding.

I’ve long ago come to the conclusion that if someone hates a book they’re going to more readily write a review than someone who loved it, or even just sorta liked it. For one thing, it’s easier. It provides catharsis for wasted money or dashed hopes. I’ve just read two wonderful books about the Borgias by Kate Quinn, and all I can do is flap my mouth and wave my hands in inarticulate admiration, wish I could do what she does, and then feel guilty about not going further with it. (Sorry, Kate.)

I will add that there’s only one thing I find truly offensive in a review (rather than feeling mystified), and that’s a reviewer who spells Austen Austin. She’s not a town in Texas. Austen. Write 100 times….

Do reviews influence you when you buy books? Do you review the books you read? And if you’re a writer, what’s the worst or most bizarre review you’ve ever received?

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