>This past weekend, the DH and I went to the movies for the first time in more than a year (If you’re a parent, you understand). I was dying to see Live Free, Die Hard with Bruce Willis as John McClain. The trailers were awesome, but then they showed all the best parts. Too bad my favorite movie critic, Roger Ebert hadn’t reviewed the movie yet. We could have saved money and just bought the DVD. I imagine Ebert’s not going to like the movie any better than I did. How do I know that? Because Roger and I have the same tastes. Only occasionally do we disagree. It works the same way with books. Find a reviewer who likes the same type of reads you do, and you’ll stand a good chance of liking the book they recommend.
The trick is to find a reviewer who *consistently* likes the same books you do. Not an easy thing to do, I might add. It takes some detective work to figure out what reviewers have tastes like yours. Even if you succeed in finding a reviewer whose tastes mirror yours, there’s still no guarantee you’ll love every book they recommend. However, the odds are in your favor to discover books you might not have found otherwise.
You’re The Reviewer
The first step is to become a reviewer yourself. Select at least three or four review sites to visit. Be sure to have pen and paper handy (if you’re a geek like me, create a table or spreadsheet) for recording your observations. Starting with the first review site on your list, do the following…
- Find a book review on the site for a book you’ve already read.
- Compare the book review with what your personal thoughts are on the book.
- Do you agree/disagree with what the reviewer says about the book you’ve read?
- Do you click with the reviewer’s writing? Does it appeal to you and make sense?
- Does the reviewer touch on points you feel are critical when it comes to what you like or dislike about a book?
- Are the reviewer’s reasons for liking a book similar/equal to yours?
- Record the review site name, the book, what you thought about the review, the book’s rating (4 Stars, etc.) and don’t forget to include the name of the reviewer.
Repeat this process on the review site for at least three or four more books you’ve read, preferably with the same reviewer. The more book reviews you check the better your chance of finding a reviewer who has similar reading tastes as you.
With that process accomplished for the first review site, you’ll probably want to repeat the steps above at other review sites. One or two more websites should be sufficient, but the number is up to you. You might actually be able to judge whether a review site matches your taste on the first try. When you’ve finished your personal reviews, study your notes and ask yourself the following…
- Were there any review sites that matched all your opinions on the books you read? This probably won’t happen, but anything’s possible.
- If you couldn’t find any reviewer comments that completely matched your opinions, did anyone come really close?
Walking the Plank
Next comes the toughest step of all. You have to take a chance on a couple of reviewers. You need to buy a book you might not normally have bought based on the reviewer’s comments. Take a look at your list of reviewers, and find the one you think is the closest match to your personal tastes. Check out a review this test reviewer has made on a new author you’ve never read before. Buy the book then compare your thoughts with the reviewer’s comments. Did you and the reviewer match up well in terms of liking the book? If you did, then save that reviewer’s name. If not, you’ll need to either give the reviewer a second chance, or scratch them off your list. This method of elimination is the quickest way to determine whether you and a reviewer are really compatible in terms of book tastes. The other option is to expand your research and read dozens of reviews by the same reviewer to see how compatible you are.
Happily Ever After
It’s always helpful to have the names of at least three or four reviewers you trust when it comes to your personal tastes. Sometimes a reviewer you trust might not review the book you’re considering buying. Keep a couple of understudies waiting in the wings. Although there aren’t any guarantees in life or book reviews, a trusted reviewer can be like money in your pocket.