why I hate book reviews


As someone who reads a fair number of books, and who loves adding new (or new-to-me) books to my collection, I have a confession: I don’t put much stock in book reviews.

I typically choose books based on the recommendations of friends or how intriguing I find the description or blurb on the cover (although I’ve sometimes found even those to be misleading).


But then all bets are off once I start reading. Some books that I never expected to enjoy are now on my list of favorites. Some that I thought I would like are now in the give-away pile.


Do you have a Goodreads account? I have one, but only for keeping a handy list of books I want to remember to look for … for me, it’s simply a portable want-to-read list.


Sometimes, though, I find myself scrolling through the reader reviews of a book I’m contemplating adding to the list, or one that I’m reading or have just finished. And I’m often amazed by the shockingly wide variety of opinions expressed as absolutes.


Don’t get me wrong: I fully expect differing opinions on any book. But I don’t understand the tendency to proclaim a particular book either terrible or triumphant, all based on mere opinion and reader taste. There will always be books you love that others don’t; and popular books or “must-reads” that you don’t like.


This is why I only offer book suggestions, not reviews.


All of the “books we love” — here on the website, in the Read. Purr. newsletter, and on social media — are just that: books we truly adored. And I will gladly share why I loved the book or — in conversation, at any rate — why I didn’t care for a particular title. But I won’t insist that “you must read this.”


Because, ultimately, the choice is yours.


Choose the books that speak to you, and read what you enjoy; not what everyone else — or even that one person whose opinion you respect — enjoys or says you “should” read.


We all have our own unique tastes. And reading is an intensely personal relationship between you and the book in your hands.


“… Some enjoyed them and others did not but that is the nature of a story. Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime.”  — Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

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Welcome to the online home of The Novel Cat, where reading, relaxing, and snuggling with cats are a way of life. I’m Jennifer, and I help too-busy-to-read bookworms and those who want to be readers maximize life’s simple joys — like reading a good book — by helping them create quiet spaces (mentally and physically) inspired by the habits of cats, who are masters at finding joy in life’s small details.

“The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you.”

W. Somerset Maugham

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”


“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”

Marcel Proust

“Standing there, staring at the long shelves crammed with books, I felt myself relax and was suddenly at peace.”

Helene Hanff

“What a happy woman I am, living in a garden, with books … birds, and flowers, and plenty of leisure to enjoy them!”

Elizabeth von Arnim

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”

Neil Gaiman

“The art of reading is … an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us; when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind.”

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

“When I … looked round at the familiar bookshelves, and could hear no sounds but sounds of peace, and knew that here I might read or dream or idle exactly as I chose with never a creature to disturb me, how grateful I felt to the kindly Fate that has brought me here and given me a heart to understand my own blessedness.”

Elizabeth von Arnim