Freadom Speaks About Reviews and How They Affect Our Thoughts on a Book


Hello everyone!

Welcome back to my discussion feature, Freadom Speaks!

I’ve been thinking about this particular topic a lot for the past few weeks. Some time ago on Twitter, an author shared their thoughts on a ARC they were reading and how they felt the story was racist. This lead to a lot of conversation, unfortunately to a lot of arguing but the part that really surprised me was the response from people who urged others to read the book before judging it. Which made me think about my job as a blogger and a reviewer and how that ends up affecting the people who read my blog.

If you’d like to know more about this particular incident, look up the hashtag #TheContinent on Twitter. 

SO let’s get started!

I started blogging because I wanted to talk about books with other people who love books just as much as I do. In real life, I don’t know anyone who loves reading like I do or who spends as much time reading as I do. So when I found the book community online, it was amazing for me! And I took the initiative to become a bigger part of it, first with my Booktube channel and then with this blog. And what I wanted to do most was share my book reviews because honestly, what better way is there to talk about books than with book reviews?

I think I started to take reviewing more seriously when I started getting Advance Reader Copies more consistently. I feel like as a reviewer my job is to be completely honest and to help others decide whether or not they want to read a book. With all books I review, but specially with ARCs because that’s kind of the point of them. Publishers send reviewers early copies of books to hopefully generate hype and interest for that release so I consider it my job in a way to be honest about my thoughts on the books I review to help better inform other readers who might stumble upon my reviews.

At the same time, I’m the kind of person who tries to judge things for myself. While I value other people’s opinions, my own is the most important to me and when it comes to books, I tend to stick with that. If a book is getting mixed reviews, I like to read it for myself to see what I think about it, but only if I’m really interested in it. How do I figure that part out? By looking at reviews! When I find a book I might want to read, I check out the reviews on Goodreads as well as it’s overall rating. If it has mixed or overall negative reviews and I’m not that interested in it, I have no problem passing on it. However, if it has those same kind of reviews but I’m really interested in the plot, I’ll read it and see what I think for myself. Same thing if it happens visa versa. It’s easy to get caught up over hyped books and want to read them but if the book doesn’t sound interesting or like something I would like, I’ll pass on it. So I tend up deciding for myself which books I want to read, regardless of what people might be saying about it.

However, my job as a blogger and reviewer is to help others with their reading choices, as other bloggers and reviewers do for me. I can see suggesting that someone reads a book before judging it if the complaints are about bad writing, annoying characters, a weak plot or anything having to do with the execution of the book or the general preference of a reader. But when the complaints have to do with racism, sexism, misogyny, romanticizing abusive relationships, all the things that are harmful to people, that make them feel like less of themselves or that perpetuate these horrible things in the media, I think it’s best to trust the reviewers and just pass on the book. That’s their job. That’s what they are meant to do. People enjoy different things in books so what you think is problematic might not be what someone else thinks it is. And yet you are both right. If something insults  you, your culture, your way of life, if it demeans it and makes fun of it, or perpetuates stereotypes about it, you are allowed to complain and point it out. And this goes beyond just not liking a certain trope or being bothered by the way the romance was carried out. Those are also okay complaints to have but they affect people differently. What doesn’t affect people differently are stereotypes, racism, or phobias against human kind. They are hurtful and wrong and should not continue to be part of books or literature in the era we live in today.

Honestly, all I wanted to say is that reviewer have a very tough job even if you don’t realize it. We’re asked to set the tone of what potentially be someone’s life work and no one who does this “professionally” takes that lightly. So when an author reading an ARC or a reviewer seeing themselves portrayed wrongly in a book they’re reading complain, listen. Just listen. We all have the right to form our own opinions about things, including books, but we also have the advantage of getting recommendations from people who get to experience these things to encourage or discourage our attention to it. It’s a part of society as a whole, from restaurants to movies to books and I think it’s important to pay attention to those people, because they love what they do and they don’t take it for granted. Well, at least I don’t. I feel very fortunate to be able to review books and to inspire other readers to read books I enjoy or to turn them away from something that might be painful for them to read. So basically, this discussion was all about me and my thoughts, like always haha.

So that’s it for this post! I’m not good at discussion guys but I’m trying. I really hope this made sense. I would love to know how reviews affect what books you read and how you decide which books really deserve your precious time. Again, I hope I made sense and I’d love to know what thoughts you have about my thoughts. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

Send off


32 thoughts on “Freadom Speaks About Reviews and How They Affect Our Thoughts on a Book

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  2. I love this post. I try to be honest in my reviews as well, though I’m not necessarily a very critical reader in general. I usually highlight good things, especially if I have some criticisms. I do agree that reviewers need to be honest, especially about big things like racism and possible triggers for others. Great discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting! I thing being critical is very hard specially when you read for pleasure most of the time, like I do, but I think it’s important to know that literature affects the world so being honest and upfront in reviews can help shape the community, it’s kind of an important job haha


  3. Your discussion posts are amazing, and 100% coherent (not to mention enjoyable and thought-provoking).

    I’m right there with you on everything you’ve said: that reviewing is (in my case) serious business, and can be pretty difficult; that it’s important to keep an open mind about things when you want to try a disputed book for yourself; that it’s equally important not to accidentally support racist/misogynistic/homophobic/etc books.

    I won’t be reading The Continent even after it’s revised, because by buying it or checking it out from the library, I’d lead people in the book industry (publishers and librarians, and ultimately writers) to believe that there are people out there who WANT racist (etc) books. The two best ways to make it clear that books like that shouldn’t be published is to (a) talk about why they’re awful, loudly and coherently, and (b) refuse to read them.

    Anyway, this is a fantastic post. Thanks for sharing it, and giving us something to think about! =)


    • Thanks so much! That means a lot to me ❤ I'm trying hard to make sure these discussions are something worth reading.

      I'm glad I'm not the only who takes reviewing seriously. I know a lot of bloggers do this because it's a hobby but I think it's important to understand that we're part of a big marketing machine and we can do a lot to help or hinder someone's livelihood and business. Though that doesn't mean that we need to lie or ignore something that needs attention because it might affect someone negatively, I feel like my most important job is to look out for other readers.

      Me either. I've taken it off my TBR and won't be pursuing it further. It's just not someone that I want to help normalize or perpetuate in fiction or any type of media to be honest.

      Thanks so much for commenting, Liam! I'm glad you enjoyed it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Definitely worth reading! Never doubt it. 👍🏽

        Regarding the marketing machine: yes, exactly. And also that, by promoting certain types of books (say, those with diverse representations–or, on the other hand, those WITHOUT diverse representation), we can potentially affect a much broader social change, for good or bad. That’s a significant responsibility!

        I’ll admit that I once started a review with “Don’t read this book,” and I wound up changing it a few days later because I couldn’t bear the feeling that I was potentially (a) making it a smidge harder for that author to earn a living, and (b) preventing readers from trying a book that I hated but they might love. I couldn’t handle that pressure, and to this day I feel bad about the, like, week that the review was up in its unedited form.

        You know, despite the fact that neither of us are going to read The Continent, I do hope that someone who read and wrote a scathing review about the ARC does read its final version, and writes a second review. I’d be curious to hear exactly how much gets changed, and how well those changes are received by the people who were most hurt by the ARC.

        Anyway, thanks for writing such a great post for me to comment on! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks 😊
        It’s a big responsibility and I want to make sure I take that seriously. I tend to stay away from such final statements because of that exact feeling you’re describing. I make sure that I speak using “I” and mention that while I didn’t enjoy it doesn’t mean others won’t. It makes me feel a bit better specially when it’s a negative review that I’m sharing.
        It’d be really interesting to see someone do a before and after review, specially since they’ve said that they’re doing changes. I hope someone does it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I also look at reviews before I read a book, unless it’s a book I’m already SUPER SUPER EXCITED for (i.e. a Dessen or Schwab or Murakami book) and no amount of negative reviews can change my mind regarding reading that book. For the most part, books that have a 4+ rating on Goodreads are generally books I have a higher chance of enjoying, while books with lower than that are generally… mixed for me (hey, look at me being so mainstream).

    I don’t know if I take reviewing that “seriously”. I try to be as honest as I can and mention things that I think are worth mentioning, but it’s not rare that I change my mind and eventually update my rating (lowering it, increasing it) sometime down the line after reading other reviews or thinking about the book again and again. Does that make my first opinion/rating not as “valid”? I don’t think so, but I do wonder. 😛

    Anyway, thanks for writing this. It’s definitely food for thought for me. And please, don’t worry about your discussion posts bc they’re so well-written and well-thought out and I love reading them. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for commenting!
      Yeah when it comes to my fave authors I’ll read it no matter what though I’ll still look at the reviews to see what people are saying. I look at averages but I don’t really think there’s a link between and my enjoyment. I’m so easy to please as a reader (most of the time) that even books with lower ratings end up being good for me sometimes.
      Since this is something that I think will help me in my career (I want to work in publishing) I do take it more seriously than others but I also don’t want to be a pain in the butt about it haha. I don’t think it makes it invalid, but I would add an annotation to my review and change the rating there, just to continue to be honest with myself and the readers who read those reviews. But then again, I’m a hard ass haha
      Thank you ❤️ it means a lot that you enjoy these because I love yours and I think you’re the most articulate blogger I follow. I really look up to your writing style and thought provoking discussions so it makes me happy that you enjoy reading mine 😄


      • No worries! It’s great to be an easy-to-please reader, I think – that kind of just means that your time is (mostly) spent very, very well. 😛

        Oh, I do add annotations, usually at the end of my review! Sometimes I forget, though, and on Goodreads I don’t really bother because… I dunno, I just don’t. I don’t really use it and I don’t really know anyone who really *reads* my reviews there, I suppose – I mostly just use it as a backup/archive/place to organise my books, not necessarily my book reviews.

        And aww, thank you so much! I feel like I have a tendency to babble so it always surprises me to hear that. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pretty much yeah haha it tends to be hard for me to really dislike or hate a book which I find good for my state of mind.
        I don’t really know if people read my reviews on Goodreads, but it just makes me feel better to have them all in one place. I don’t review every book I read on my blog so it’s nice to have them all together on one website.
        You do a very organized babble which is why it’s so great haha


      • I write a simple version of my review and then when I have the time, I expand it on Goodreads, though I still have like over 20 books that I read in 2015 that I haven’t written anything for haha I just don’t have the time to just review on Goodreads, it’s time that I need to make haha


  5. This is an amazing discussion post, Sara. You have nothing to worry about!

    I totally agree with everything you’re saying. I’m the type of person that has to see things for myself except for the cases you specified when it comes to racism ect. but otherwise I’ll normally always end up reading the book no matter what the review is like haha. If someone I trust has hated/loved a book then I take that into account especially if we’ve shared similar opinions in the past, but I still try to go into the book with an open mind.

    I struggle with writing reviews because I find it so hard to make my thoughts coherent. I’ll always be 100% honest though which is difficult if you’re reviewing a hyped new release because everyone is normally so excited and I feel like I’m ruining everyone’s fun by saying I didn’t like the book haha. I’ll always try to find something positive to speak about though. Like even with my 1 star review of Stealing Snow I tried to at least say how I thought it had potential.

    Reviewing is definitely a lot harder than people think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting beautiful! I’m glad I’m not the only one who has that thought process. I didn’t want to validate that argument in terms of that specific book but I also didn’t want to lie and say it’s something I don’t do.
      Reviews are much harder to write than people think haha and you can’t go full on rage on something sometimes because someone might accuse you of being rude and/or bullying 😕


  6. This is a great post Sara! I take writing my reviews very seriously. On average it takes me at least 45 minutes to pout one together. I hate writing negative reviews because obviously the author bout a lot of time and effort into getting it published. Usually when I give a book a poor review I encourage people to go to sites like Goodreads to read what other reviewers thought. My least favorite review though is what I call “meh” reviews. These are books I usually rate 3 stars. They’re books that for me had interesting premises but for some reason didn’t live up to the potential. Once again I try to steer people to Goodreads or their local library if they’re intrigued. Sorry for the long comment!💁🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for commenting! Don’t even worry about the length, longer the better haha
      I always try to make sure I mention that these are my opinions and what I enjoy might not be the same as someone else and I hope they look beyond just my thoughts before making up their mind of a book.
      But yeah, those 3 stars reviews are killer. It’s so hard to pinpoint what the problem is because I feel like there’s not as a strong emotion there as there would be for a completely negative review.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a really good discussion topic Sara !! ❤
    I cannot agree more with what you said. Like, as a reviewer I think and think again about what's in my review because I know it's going to affect people just as much as other people's reviews might affect me. Also, I like to form my own opinions but just when the premise sounds interesting but when 1/ the book doesn't sound like Something I'd like and 2/ it has a lot of negative reviews, no thank you haha!
    Anyway, great post !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting! I’m glad I’m not the only one with this thought process. I think it’s important to see a lot of evidence before making up my mind about something so I try to be informative in my reviews so people can make up their minds on their own. But at the same time, if it’s something I have no interest in or it’s getting criticism for something beyond my comprehension, I just can’t even give it a try haha

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I completely agree with this article!! Whenever I review, I always want to keep problematic things the focus, because that could be the deal breaker for a lot of people. I also completely, 100% agree with your words on The Continent and how we should listen to those who are affected by things like this. Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting! I try to make sure I highlight both the positives and negatives about a book no matter if I ended up enjoying it or not. I think it’s important to help people make their own reading choices and to make sure they don’t go into a book with not all the info they need to be safe with themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great article!
    This is why I do not write reviews. I do not trust myself to be honest. I would not want to hurt an authors feelings! Everyone would get a 5-star review and that is not being fair to the folks that are spending their money based on published reviews.
    Thank you for taking your position as reviewer seriously, Sara.
    Happy Reading!
    ~Icky. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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