Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Blogger Appreciation Week, Day 3: Blame a Blogger

Courtesy The Estella Society
Day 3. Have you ever read a book because of a book blogger? Be it a good book or bad, bloggers recommend books every day of the year. Sometimes we take their advice and it’s great! Sometimes, it’s not so great. Today, tell us all about the book or books you’ve read because of a book blogger and be sure to sure to spread the blame around.

Sometime last year, I decided to be a little more diligent about using my GoodReads "to-read" shelf and started immediately adding interesting books that I heard about from bloggers. I have yet to tackle that list (oops), but there were two books I read last year that were only brought to my attention because of the splash they made in the book blog scene.

1. I hated it: The Martian

That's right. I hated science fiction's 2014 darling, The Martian.

But I saw so many people reading and raving about this book, though not so many that I became skeptical. My tastes are swayed by a very precise hype-to-obscurity ratio: enough people (preferably of differing tastes) have to mention a book to get me to think it might be good; too many people mentioning it and I know I won't like it. The Martian was right in the sweet spot so I went in with high expectations.

My favorite thing about GoodReads is that even though the star ratings are inflated beyond belief (soooooo many people receiving free copies in exchange for "an honest review" = lots of mediocre books getting 4-star ratings), if you filter the actual reviews by popularity, you can quickly get a taste for what the book is actually like. Check out this quote from the highest-ranked* review for The Martian:

 It's a good thing I'm so naturally optimistic, because it sure would make for a bummer book if I ever showed any signs of being depressed or having any kind of mental deterioration after spending nearly two years in total solitude!

Yeah, that's kind of the book's biggest problem in a nutshell.

This is a fun game to play with any book you hate. Like, this review for The Fault in Our Stars gives me so much life.

2. I loved it: A Tale For The Time Being

Again, A Tale For The Time Being hit the Goldilocks amount of hype: enough that I knew about it, not so much that I became skeptical. I was lucky enough to get a copy from a friend and it quickly became a "bagel book" for me: a book I didn't want to finish because it was so good; if I finished, there'd be nothing left to read!

My "what does the highest-ranked GoodReads review say?" game is less fun to play with a book you love, but it is no less illuminating:

** spoiler alert ** Dammit this should have been at least a 4 star book!
Till about the second half of part 3, I was all set to give this rave reviews 'cause Nao's story was so compelling and well written plus there wasn't enough of Ruth's woeful tone to grate on the nerves. Then Ruth's dream sequence comes up and ugh it damn near ruins the bloody book. 
And here I will begrudgingly agree: Ruth's dream sequence does take the story down a weird left turn. If you're not a fan of magical realism, it won't be to your taste. Even if you are, it might still seem forced. 

Though, I agree only to an extent. Even if the dream sequences was a bit odd, I wasn't bothered by Ruth's sections at all, so her parts never grated on my nerves.

I don't remember where I heard about either of those books from originally, so I can't blame (or thank!) any one blogger in particular. Just the emergent property that is the ~~book blogosphere.

You can read other answers to "Blame a Blogger" over at the BBAW link-up!

*according to GoodReads' "secret sauce," which they describe as "...a closely guarded trade secret, but the ingredients are: length of the review, number of people who liked it, recency of the review, popularity of the reviewer (i.e., number of people who have liked reviews by that person across all books)."


  1. This IS the struggle: "enough people (preferably of differing tastes) have to mention a book to get me to think it might be good; too many people mentioning it and I know I won't like it."

    ( - leaving URL because Blogger won't let me post using WordPress or Open ID)

    1. Blogger is a turd! Apologies for that.

      Not many books manage to strike that balance! That's not the only thing that gets me to a new book, though. If only one person talks about it, but it sounds really interesting or is relevant to one of my interests, then I'll add it to my TBR. So I do actually find a LOT of new reads thanks to bloggers. But the ones that have the right hype formula definitely get prioritized.

  2. Okay, this is going to come off as very stalkerish, so apologies in advance, but I think you are the Katherine Koba who sometimes comments on my blog but I don't come back here? I have been looking for your blog for quite a while, so I am glad that I finally found it!

    I actually loved Martian, until the very ending, that is. I didn't like the ending. But I know what you mean - it is hard to know if a hyped book is for you or not, and I have had many such failures.

    1. Yes that's me!! Sorry for being the stalker who didn't make herself as easily Google-able in her comments! You're not a stalker tho ;)

      What was it about the ending that you didn't like? NGL I kind of would have been satisfied if Watney hadn't made it back. I don't usually like downer endings but I think I could have been okay with one in this case. If done right.

  3. Oh I looooooved A Tale for the Time Being, including the ending (and I am not usually a magic realism person). Luckily I caught it before the hype train kicked into high gear. It's not that I don't want to read a book that's been heavily hyped -- often I do! -- but sometimes it can get your expectations way too high, and then you're inevitably disappointed.

  4. This is what I have enjoyed about this week. We may not have the same choices in books but you would be the 3rd blogger that has made me laugh out loud, just something about the voice when you write. And that alone will make me want to read your blog.

  5. This is such a great post! I know what you mean about hyped books. It's a bummer when they fall flat. And, even though I loved The Martian, that quote cracked me up.

    1. If a hyped-up book is bad (by my standards) (my standards are ridiculous and like 90% of everyone's favorites don't live up to them), I at least have fun picking it apart, so not all is lost!

      That whole review is golden. I love it.

  6. I agree about laughing out loud - how wonderful that you mentioned what you hated - and I haven't read THE MARTIAN yet. Or maybe ever. I will freely say that I am one of the people who did not like GONE GIRL and I'm a very avid mystery/psychological thriller reader. So there you go. Enjoyed this.

    1. Oh man, I feel like even though I haven't read Gone Girl, I've basically read it through cultural osmosis. It got talked about a LOT and I know the major plot points (or the "twist" I guess), and knowing that much I know it's very much nothing that interests me or will appeal to me. I'm a little weirded out by how much people seem to like it, but maybe Gillian Flynn is a captivating writer in other ways.

  7. I just break all the rules on Goodreads... I never rate books! lol