Can you trust my book reviews? Probably not. When I look at my output on commercial sites like amazon or goodreads, it’s clear I rarely write narrative reviews for any author I don’t know in some capacity. It takes focus for me to distill my thoughts about a novel into a slim and sassy paragraph, so I tend to save my energy for signal boosting purposes. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever written a glowing review for a shitty book, and when I write longer form reviews for literary sites (as when I wrote for Prick of the Spindle), I’m definitely analytical and critical.
In terms of non-narrative reviews, I’m pretty stingy. I might rank fewer than a dozen books a year–why? I’m a slow reader, and I don’t finish books I don’t like. That also means that when I do rate books, I’m giving out 4 and 5 stars.
Obviously I’m thinking about this in light of amazon’s latest efforts in book review quality control –there’s weird stuff going on, with reviews being removed, ostensibly because the reviewers “know” the author as determined by a proprietary process (social media, of course.) An author friend of mine just saw every review of his Kirkus lauded debut removed, only to be restored later. My reviews are still up–both by me and for my novel, so I’m assuming amazon’s policy and practice are evolving, and that the algorithm is experimental for now. The concept of “know” is a fascinating one–always has been in the lit world.