What is the right way to judge books?

Posted January 8, 2018 by Pamela Nicole in Discussions, Reading / 10 Comments


What an odd thing to wonder, isn’t it? But I’ve been thinking about it more and more. Sometimes reviewing a book is a piece of cake, and other times, it’s way trickier than that. Like… well, a whole cake.

It usually comes down to two things. You go by how the book makes you feel, or if it’s ‘technically’ well-written, well-structured… you name it.  It is kinda a weird thing to wonder because also, most of the time if a book is well-written then it makes you feel like you’re in heaven, duh. But obviously, that’s not what I mean. I mean the books that are whole cakes. Those books that do everything ‘by the book’ but still miss the mark and you just can’t give them those precious stars. Or those books that you adore but are actually a pile of cliches? Admit it, we all have those.

But, how do you decide which ‘side’ is more important? 

Let’s get problematic, even. What if this book is an offensive piece of trash to a group of people but is actually beautifully written? What if this is the best representation of a minority out there, but on the other hand, it’s very boring?

How do you decide?


How do I decide?

I try to take both sides into account. Sometimes, I won’t enjoy the book, so I praise other aspects instead that I consider some other people will like. I lean towards being positive that way. Unless the book really, really made me mad, then I won’t have a lot of mercy. But more often that not, if I don’t enjoy the book, I try to think about people who might, and what saving graces the book has.


Are you an emotional, or a technical reviewer?

Hi, I’m Pamela, your curly-haired bookdragon friend, here to talk about books, writing, introversion, and everything creativity! I also teach creative writing through workshops and online courses to spanish-speaking writers.

Liked this content? Get instant updates

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

10 responses to “What is the right way to judge books?

  1. I focus on whether or not it makes me happy. If I enjoyed it, regardless of anything else, it’s probably going to get four or five stars. I will mention the negative aspects in the review though.

  2. Oh this is such an interesting topic! I think I am mostly an emotional reviewer? Whenever I write down my reviews, I’m always thinking about the way it made me feel. If the book made me cry, there is a chance it’s going to be getting a high rating from me, ahah. I review books, thinking about how I felt connected to the characters, to the story, how it moved me, how immersed into it all I felt.
    I think it’s important as well to take some technical aspects into account – like, if the story flowed well (that means, for me, if I got immersed into the book and couldn’t get rid of it), if there were problematic elements I spotted here and there, I try and mention them as best as I can. I think my emotions really guide my reviews, but I try and balance it with the technical aspects and, if I didn’t love a book, always try and balance things out too and mention who could maybe, enjoy that book better than I did.
    Lovely post!! xx

    • We’re the same then! XD Books that make me cry always get a high rating. They have to get me invested like a brazillian soap opera (really they’re the best XD) If you’re that emotionally invested, then sometimes it doesn’t even matter that much that it isn’t technically perfect. Maybe there were slow parts at the beginning, or the middle, but having hooked you like that it’s the biggest saving grace of ALL.

      Thank you!

  3. I’ve thought about this a lot, especially since I review books on my blog… and in the end, the complexity of what makes a book a “good” book (as you so eloquently stated in your post 😊) is the reason why I don’t rate my books or give them star rating. If someone really wants to know my thoughts on a book, then they’ll have to read the entirety of my book chat to see how the blend between all my feelings and technical judgement worked out. 🙂 I also agree that people don’t have to love a book that is super unique or has the most beautiful writing ever; in fact, some of the books I adore today are simple ones from my childhood that I have a lot of happy memories attached to. In the case of those books, I would be an emotional reviewer, but today, I would say I’m pretty good a keeping a balance between being an emotional reviewer and a technical reviewer 😋 This was a great post!!

    • Wow! I’ve always used the star ratings. Sometimes I ramble and it seemed like an easy way to quickly convey how I feel, but it DOES get tricky. You can give a book 3 stars and people think ‘oh so it was ok’. But 3 stars can mean so many things! For those middle ratings I think the review is so so important.

      Thanks! And thanks for your thoughts!

  4. If I liked the book, on way or another, I always try to state my point but also talk about the fact that a group of people could have been offended by it. Also because, in case of representations, is always important to look out at certain aspects, also because they can totally change the whole perspective of a book. So I always try to read critically but also with my feelings

    • Yeah, with books that have been said to contain offensive messages in some way, it’s always tricky. If you’re aware of the problem but don’t feel personally offended, it’s always a good idea to at least mention that there could be problematic issues in the book.

  5. Rasya

    When it comes to reviewing, I judge mostly using my feelings. Does the book make me feel something? Is it funny? Or just plain boring.

    And usually, when the book is bad I’d just DNF lol.

    • Lol, I have no problem with not finishing a book, but it’s hard when it’s somewhat interesting so I keep going to just to see how it ends but the whole time it’s AGONIZING.