Reviews: Are We Influenced by Others?

So, you probably know me from Goodreads. I mean there's a 99% chance as I literally do not use any other website for books. But um, if you know me from somewhere else . . . hi? Welcome to my blog thats basically still under construction, don't forget to leave a comment on your way out! But back to the topic on hand. I use Goodreads as a place to post all of my reviews of the brilliantly written books that I've read (and some not so brilliantly written ones as well).

Although recently I read a fantastic book (check out my review here) and made the mistake of looking through the reviews, just as I was writing my own. Bad idea. What was going to be a five star rating, plummeted into a four star rating (and yes, one star makes all the difference).

Perhaps I'm just extremely susceptible to what other people think or maybe they opened my eyes to something new? This got me thinking, is it just me who does this or do other people do it too? Are reviews just the same words written over and over again but by different people? Okay, they're not the same words written over and over again, but you get the point. Hopefully. 

So what did I do? I carried out a survey.

Kind of. Well I asked a grand total of three people to answer some questions for me, and they did. Thanks guys!

1. Do you look at reviews before or after you read the books?
2. Do you think you rate books higher because a friend or family member has recommended it?
3. Does a book being over hyped cause you to lower your review? Maybe you expected too much from it?
4. If you love an author, do you rate books by them higher than if they were unknown?
5. Does being influenced make our review a little less personal/meaningful? 

I sent them these questions, which they could structure their answers around (if they were stuck for ideas). Overall, I think it went pretty well. I got some amazing replies and learnt a few things too! Huge thank you to Victoria (bookindulgences) and Allison for actually taking the time to message me back. 

Drum roll please!

thanks again for agreeing to participate!


Personally, before I go to pick the next book I read I'll go on goodreads or even B&N to look at reviews and just the overall rating so I can get a feel if I'll like the book or not. Usually I will end up buying it if there has been a lot of good reviews for it. However, I don't feel that others reviews affect if I end up liking or disliking the book after I'm done with it. Some of my tastes might be different than others so there have been times where someone loved a book and I didn't, and vice versa. 

Recommendations by my friends/family don't really influence how I rate/review the book, they usually influence my expectations. If a book is overhyped, of course I'm probably going to go into it with high expectations but I don't let the fact that's overhyped affect the review I give it. I also don't think an author's name changes the way I feel after I read the book, however, I will say before reading the book, I'll probably expect more if I love the author. I feel that anytime we let others influence our own opinions and feelings, they become a little less personal

I look at reviews after I read a book, mostly because I'm scared of being spoiled. Haha. I try REALLY hard not to do this and to give my honest opinion of a book, but yes, sometimes I find myself rating a book higher if it's been recommended to me, especially if it's from someone who's talked to me about it in person, because their excitement transfers over to me. If they tell me they really love something, and I care about their opinion, I'll probably like it, too. (This isn't always the case - my review on C.C. Hunter's AWAKE AT DAWN was pretty negative, even though my best friend recommended it to me.) 

Sometimes my review is low on books where I've heard great things and have gotten my hopes too high. (I was disappointed that I didn't enjoy The Maze Runner trilogy as much as I was expected to believe I would.) If I love an author I actually hold higher expectations from them, so if I end up not liking one of their books I'll be honest. Sometimes I find myself wanting to be more generous to unknown authors, especially if I know it's their first book. (Again, I try to resist this urge and be honest.)

I think it definitely can make it a little less personal. Then again, I think that can be okay. I don't think humans consume novels and books in a vacuum, just how novels and books aren't written in a vacuum. Things influence us. It's not just about what we thought about a book we read, but it's also about the lives we are living as we are reading a book, and our lives are all unique to us. Influences are always around us, and I guess it's how we interpret those influences that can either make reviews more or less personal/meaningful.

That's it!

I may make a part two of this if anyone else wants to participate in answering the questions. It's always interesting to see what's going through other people's heads, particularly readers. Maybe it has something to do we how we spend out time. Imagining things . . . and stuff?

Also a huge thank you to PaperFury (Cait) who basically inspired me to make this blog. I think I may have (accidentally) structured my posts somewhat like hers. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me on twitter!

Lastly, thank you for reading! Even if you skimmed over some bits (I do that sometimes too), you've made it to the end. I'm so proud of you! Okay this is getting weird, maybe it's time to end this post. Bye!

Ps. As you can probably tell, I didn't take these photos or create the vectors. The vectors were Designed by Freepik.

Do you agree with what Allison and Victoria have to say? Do you have anything else to add? Or did they capture your thoughts perfectly?


  1. Ooh, this is a tough one! I honestly do both?! Like sometimes I read reviews and it makes me want/not want a book...but if I know I ABSOLUTELY MUST READ IT then I don't read any reviews at all. :P I don't want to be accidentally spoiled (I just prefer going in blind?) and I don't want their opinions to influence me before I've made my own. But omggg, I HAVE totally done this.🙈🙊 Like written a review and then read someone else's and gone "How did I not see that tragic mistake? Agh. My rating is all wrong." hehe Reviewing is hard. The whole bookworm life is hard tbh. 😂

    1. It's the exact same for me! I've been leaving books lying on my shelf just because of the fear that it's going to be terrible because of the overall ratings. Some really good books have low ratings! I feel pressured to read the reviews sometimes because 'what if he was sexist?' Etc.


My Instagram

Copyright © Fleur Henley. Designed by OddThemes