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Do reviewers actually ^read^ the books they review? Or is that old hat?

(9 Posts)
Quattrocento Fri 10-Jul-09 16:44:46

I've just read Mr Toppit, which was dull until the last three pages. Here's what the reviewers said:

"Witty, engrossing, moving ... one hot mess of a family romance." The Times

There is no romance. It is not witty. It is not engrossing. It is not hot. And what's more, it could never be described as any of those things by someone who had read the book.

The other reviews were worse. So do reviewers just invent a book they'd like to have read?

HaventSleptForAYear Fri 10-Jul-09 16:53:31

I wondered this when I saw all the reviews of a book I just bought (can't remember the title, will look it up later).

I am a v. fast reader but some of the huge tomes I have would take me a couple of weeks to get through.

Surely no-one could get paid to just sit around and read ONE book for 2 weeks?

Wouldn't be v. cost-effective would it?

I reckon they read the beginning, skim the middle and skip to the end and then read other reviews of the same book.

Always wanted to review books for a living as a child/teenager though - would love to hear from someone about the reality of it.

UnquietDad Sat 11-Jul-09 14:40:20

Judging by some of the reviews I've had - no, they don't.

yappybluedog Sat 11-Jul-09 15:30:23

I gave up with Mr Toppit, got half-way through and that took about 2 weeks.

yappybluedog Sat 11-Jul-09 15:31:01

I may go back and read the last 3 ages though smile

Quattrocento Sat 11-Jul-09 15:43:09

The last 3 pages were good actually. I'd like a job as a reviewer.

Here's a sample review

An ambitious novel with verve and pace, exploring the human condition with insight and sensitivity. A book you won't forget ..."

See, that could just about apply to any novel in the bestseller list, couldn't it? Where the Times is going wrong is that they made their bland anonymous review too specific, so it was obvious that the reviewer hadn't read the book.

UnquietDad Sat 11-Jul-09 15:53:15

Don't forget "emotional rollercoaster", "unputdownable" and "haunting... will stay in the mind long after the last page has been turned."

yappybluedog Sat 11-Jul-09 15:57:49

that last one is true, it often stays in my mind that I've wasted yet another £7 on a crappy book

elkiedee Mon 14-Sep-09 00:05:36

I've wondered that about some reviewers. There are some websites where people review books and definitely do read them properly and write good and bad reviews. Reviews are by readers who have something to say about the books they read and aren't getting anything other than some free books. I wrote a few crime fiction reviews several years ago for this one:

The site editor is a professional journalist although she does this for fun and books, and quite a few reviewers for it are people I made friends with online and then got to meet in real life in some cases, the site was founded by a crime/mystery fiction fan who felt there was a need for her site (sadly Barbara Franchi died earlier this year).

I've just started to review for this one, one book so far and the next in the post, but there are lots of really lively and thoughtful reviews on here:

A professional reviewer of children's books once lived in the same housing coop as my aunt - she gave me some of her spare books once when I was about 8. I thought then and still think now that she had the best job (though probably not the best paid journalistic gig).

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