This is an ongoing topic around the book community. Should we judge books before we read them? And even more so, should we rate books before we read them?
Now I will admit to judging books before reading them. I will read the description or a review or I’ll see somebody talking about it and I’ll start to form an opinion on this book before I read it. I do this way too often, and it’s something I’ve been trying to stop, but it’s hard.
The worst though is when someone rates a book before reading it. I understand doing a review on Goodreads where you talk about the book but don’t actually give it a rating. Otherwise, don’t do it. If you have not read a book, do not go talking about how terrible it is and then give it a low rating. No.
When you rate a book it brings the average rating up or down. So if you haven’t read the book and you give it one stars, and other people do this too, the average rating starts to go down. This affects the way people look at the book. Like most authors, I generally tend to look at a book’s average rating before adding it to my to-read shelf.
So if I see a book I think looks good with a low rating, I might be inclined not to read it. But then I will read the reviews and realize that a lot of them are not real reviews. Sometimes you will find people trying to do this on purpose because they dislike the book and/or author and want people to feel the same and not read it. This happened a lot before Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas was published. Puput @ Sparkling Letters wrote a great post about this here.
I’ve also seen this done with Cassandra Clare’s books many times before and how she’s just trying to get more money by continually coming out with more Shadowhunters series. Now yes, the Shadowhunter world may get tiring. That does not mean you go and rate a book that’s going to be released in three years one star and complain about the author.
We most definitely should not rate books before we read them, especially based on something you read on the internet or on the book’s description. You can write a review talking about why you won’t read it, but you should never rare a book in this situation. Keep in mind Goodreads gives you the option to write a review without actually giving the book a star rating.
On the other end, there’s reading things about a book and forming an opinion before reading it. This does not mean giving the book a rating, but developing your own thoughts and opinions on it. I read a lot of book reviews and I see a lot of people talking about books in a good or bad way and I do admit, it does tend to sway my opinions. And this is something i’m trying to stop myself from doing. But let’s be honest, we’ve all done it before.
For example, there has been a lot of negative hype about Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark for many reasons. I had no intent on reading this book in the first place because I’m not a huge fan of Roth’s books, but I definitely think the hate it was causing was getting a bit out of hand. I saw people basically being shamed for reading it. Like it’s a book. Does it really matter if someone wants to read a book that you don’t like? And just because someone is reading a book, it doesn’t mean they agree with what is in the book.
This is going to be a hard habit for me to break. I’m trying to stop reviews and hype swaying my mind on a book. Which is crazy coming from someone who reviews books! In my mind, reviewing books is not to sway others’ opinions, but to share yours with the world and then be able to discuss the book, if that makes any sense. So if i write a negative or a raving review, in no way am I trying to make you agree with me.
So in the end, I’m going to say this: it is not okay to rate books you have not read. It is okay to share your opinions even if you have not read a book, but do not go and give it a rating on Goodreads or somewhere else. And most definitely do not put other people down for their opinions on a book. I don’t think it’s necessarily right to judge books before reading them, but I don’t think it’s all that bad. If you do it, that’s entirely fine, as long as you don’t make a big deal out of it and do what I mentioned earlier.
Keep in mind this is entirely my opinion. You don’t have to agree with everything I have shared in this discussion. I mean, that’s why it’s called a discussion, so we can discuss our thoughts on this topic. I would love to know what you think about this!