Books and reviews

I wonder if I’m alone in looking at the one and two star reviews on Amazon when searching for an interesting book.

I began doing this a few years ago after buying a number of books based on four and five star reviews. With a few exceptions, they turned out to be hugely disappointing.

The problem when it comes to reviews of books is that we all have different tastes. Books are like food in that sense.

For example, some people find the best-selling American “humourist” David Sedaris very funny. I’ve tried reading several of his books, but they left me cold. And when I looked at the one and two star reviews afterwards, I found they articulated my own response.

If a book on Amazon has the “Look Inside” feature, I’ll begin to read the first chapter. If the writing doesn’t captivate me in the first few pages, I’ll move on.

There’s another issue related to reviews. And that’s how publishers all too frequently over hype an author.  Often there’ll be a quote on the front of the cover from some big name, but I’ve learned not to trust these. I know from personal experience that the chances are the big name hasn’t even read the book.

So how do you find a book that you are going to enjoy? There’s no easy answer. A recommendation from a friend can be one way, but it’s not guaranteed.

Some of the best books I’ve read are ones that I have stumbled across by accident, either when browsing on Amazon or rooting around in a charity shop.

There are some great books out there waiting to be discovered. It’s just a matter of finding them. So I’ll keep to reading Amazon’s one and two star reviews.