Recommend In Haste & Repent At Leisure?

The House At Riverton, by Kate Morton

AKA…Do you have a cooling off period for your reviews and proclamations of this is The Best Book Ever to friends and/or your blog?

Last month I was chatting with my book club about favorite and least favorite books that we have read over the past year,  and we started talking about The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton.  When we walked into the room, everyone loved the book.  I thought that had good things to say and I am usually the dissenting opinion in the room.  I even dislike my own picks, but that’s a conversation for another day.  Within twenty minutes everything had changed and we didn’t like the book as much.  We pretty much picked apart everything, and more or less came to the conclusion that while we liked the book okay, and it was fun to read, it was ultimately unsatisfying and there were lots of holes in the story that could have been filled, less cliche, and just in some places a lot more clear.  By this time I had already finished writing up the glowing thoughts that I linked to above.

The House At Riverton, by Kate Morton

Now, there’s not anything that I don’t stand by in the review, in fact I list a whole bunch of apprehensions and things which were happening with other books that made me so ecstatic to read this one.  And it did have the good points that I mentioned, but I was just so happy to be reading a book that I actually wanted to finish that I was willing to forgive more that I usually would have forgiven.  There’s a whole lot more that I would mention if I had it to do all over again. But, in fact, I had just finished reading the only two books of 2008 that I could not finish; North River, by Pete Hamill and Man Gone Down, by Michael Thomas (which, naturally, is getting raves and awards all over the place now, lol), and there is a lot to be said for a comparative experience.

So if you read The House at Riverton because of me, sorry! I got caught up in a moment, but it wasn’t so bad, now was it? That’s not likely to happen again because now I usually wait about a week before I post anything.  Who am I kidding?  Some times more than that. With some books it takes me a long time to figure out what I thought. The Ten Year Nap, by Meg Wolitzer is a prime example.  I think the problem there is that I wanted to like the book so much and didn’t.

Have you ever recommended something in the heat of the moment and felt differently about it later?  Do you feel differently about books after discussing them with others?  Do you wait a little bit before you post reviews or recommend things to other people?  What’s the  balance with connecting with a book emotionally and being able to figure out its merits?  Do you go back and change reviews or ratings to ones that reflect your current thoughts?  Should you?

Talk to me people. I really want to know.

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    1. There definitely has to be a point when something is done, whether it is a book or a review or whatever. I haven’t heard of that. That is crazy! He should let it go. I have heard of writers obsessing over the first pages or chapters so much that they are never able to finish a work.

  1. Interesting post, Nicole. Here are my thoughts: I think an emotional response to a book is just as valid as a more thought out intellectual analysis done later. Regardless of the plot holes, etc…your initial feeling was the book was a good read and it engaged you. I’ve felt like that plenty of times – and I think that one’s mood at the time of reading can greatly influence how they feel about the book at the time. There are times I’ve looked back and felt a little differently about a book since when I reviewed it. I *have* had times when a book discussion group will sway my final feelings about a book (which is why I sometimes wait to review until after the discussion!)…but usually it is for those books I did not like, and then grow to appreciate once I’ve talked about them with others and gathered more insight into them. Not too many people can sway me to dislike a book I loved *smiles*

    By the way, I read The House at Riverton and enjoyed it – for me, the gothic elements were fun and I got pulled into the story. I can forgive a ton of plot holes if the writing engages me otherwise!!

    1. I definitely agree with you that an emotional response is important. I just read a book that I love! Not my genre, didn’t expect to really expect to love it and I did, but it’s by a new author and it is a bit flawed. I’ll gush and be okay with that. I think I have issues with The House at Riverton specifically because I’m not sure that it engaged me on its own merits. A lot of it was yay, the book isn’t bad and unreadable, which I think is a little different than yay, this book has some flaws but I love it. I think it got some extra love that I wouldn’t have given it otherwise.

      It’s interesting that you wait until after the group discussion to write up your thoughts. Part of the reason I wrote the review so quickly for HAR was because I wanted to do it before I heard anyone else’s opinion and was influenced by it. I usually question what my pinion is of the writing if I need someone else to give me additional information to inform my perspective of the book, since I approach it with my own limitations/perspective, and that’s the only thing that’s mine. But at the same time I think that there are books that I enjoyed more in hindsight after having more info. It’s kinda crazy.

      There are some books that I love and I know that they are not for any legitimate reasons that would interest anyone else. And I know the books aren’t even good books.

  2. I definitely change my mind over time. These days my reviews normally have about a week to a month wait time after I write them and I totally go back and change things. When discussing books with people sometimes it’s only then that I realize certain things dissatisfied me or that I’ve missed out on something which clarifies the whole book for me and makes me love it.

    Also, timing matters hugely. If I’ve just read a fantastic book, nothing is going to match up. If I’ve read a terrible book, the next one will seem better in comparison. In that sense it’s pretty much impossible to cleanse the literary palate, we’re humans and we compare books just like everything else. If I’m reading a whole string of light genre books, the lesser ones might suffer by comparison than if I’d chosen to read one of them in the middle of a more serious series of books. I think you’re totally normal.

    1. That’s true. It’s all very fluid. There are even books that I have liked more than I thought I did with a little time and some perspective.

  3. I almost never write a review right after I read a book….just too many books and not enough time. There have been several that I did post right away because I loved them so very much. I’ve never questioned whether I liked it or not afterwards…but I have dissed some books where others LOVED it….but that’s what makes books to personal and different to each person. We all bring different upbringings and experiences to the table so we of course come away with completely different thoughts on the same books. That’s why I love blogging and reading other people’s reviews on books.
    .-= Staci´s last blog ..TLC Book Review of : A World I Never Made =-.

    1. I usually will make notes on certain aspects that stick out and think about them before I write my review. I think that if I wrote most reviews right away they would be very extreme. Very love it or hate it. It’s only with a day or two that balance comes for me.

  4. Discussing a book with others can definitely change my opinion of a book. Sometimes I don’t enjoy parts of a book, because I don’t understand them and once I gain that understanding it makes the whole book clearer. I hope that makes sense.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..UP =-.

  5. This was such an interesting topic! I always write my reviews immediately after I’ve finished a book, generally before I start another, because I like my thoughts and impressions to be fresh and clear. Generally what I’ve found, however, is that most books that I really enjoy I continue to stand by my reviews, but sometimes I’ve found that a book I didn’t enjoy quite as much, I can sometimes come around to after some thinking. One example that springs to mind is Atonement by Ian McEwan. I initially was very angry with this book (funny, but true!), but the more I read, the more I came to appreciate it. Upon finishing it, I had a newfound respect for the book, and as the weeks went by, I found myself liking it more and more… this was pre-book blogging for me, so I never wrote a review, but I wonder what I might have said if I had! Oh well, there’s always the opportunity to recant and re-read and write about your new impressions. I think the thing I try to remember is that I do write the reviews for myself as much as anyone else, and so it’s important for me to write down my impressions of the book at the time I read it… they may change over time, but at least I’ve captured that moment. And as you said, the thoughts you had were not necessarily invalid, they might just not have been balanced! I think it’s ok to write biased reviews!
    .-= Steph´s last blog ..“Up” (2009) =-.

    1. There are definitely some books that I thought I didn’t like that I liked more as time went on. And I have had some books that I appreciate more not because my opinion change of them but because they were the jumping off point for exploring other things that were really interesting. I’ll have to talk about those books some time.

  6. I definitely change, that’s why I like to write reviews right after I read a book, but then come back it a few days later. Or I’ll talk to someone else about it, and change my views, like you said. But I agree with Wendy – how you react at first is at least just as legitimate if not moreso than how you feel about the book later upon reflection.

    1. I definitely think the emotional aspect is legitimate if it’s an honest reaction to the book. I think I was more reacting to the other books which was the problem with HAR. At any rate I post less quickly now.

  7. I usually try to write the review right after I finish the book b/c then I think I capture my immediate feelings related to the experience.

    I think we all react to books in the context of other things we’ve been reading or that have been going on in our lives. One of the benefits, in my opinion, of book blogs over traditional media book reviews is having reviewers who acknowledge how their opinions of the books are shaped by these outside elements.

  8. I usually post a review within a couple of days of finishing. After reading your post, I have noticed that I’ve raved about a book and then wondered why later when I hear others talking about it. Weird! I’ve have to think about why that is.

    I had so much trouble with The Ten Year Nap, too. I actually waited awhile to write about that one because I just didn’t know what to say.

    Good topic for a post!

  9. I think I’m a very emotional reader – it’s why it can be a challenge for me to write a review. I tend to judge a book mainly by how it made me feel as I was reading it, and how I felt once I put the book down. (That whole lost in another world thing. Probably because that’s one of my main reasons for reading.). I’ve noticed that my reviews all tend to be more on the positive side, and that’s probably because I have a lot of DNFs, so if I’ve finished the book, it means that it had enough power to pull me through, immerse me in that other world, which usually means a good emotional response on my part.

    I did recently review a book I had re-read, and I discovered on the re-read that it was not nearly as compelling as I had felt it was the first time I had read it a couple of years ago. I had kept it on my shelves because I thought it was a keeper. I still enjoyed the re-read, and it was a nice comfortable read, too, but I found I had issues with the main character. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting more discerning in my old age!
    .-= Belle´s last blog ..Incoming! L.A. Candy, by Lauren Conrad =-.

  10. I’ve recently had the opposite experience — if I’d written the book review just after I finished the book, I would have panned it. Thank goodness I waited a week! After I thought about it for a while, I realized that there really was no other way for the author to end it. Glad I waited and I learned a valuable lesson – I’d rather give a glowing review and highly recommend a book due to a positive emotional response than pan it!

  11. This is a good question. I think I can tell when I’m passionate about a book, and it’s the ones I’m passionate about that I try to talk a lot about.

    I was (am!) very passionate about The Hunger Games, and then I saw a review that brought up valid points about whey they couldn’t rave about it. I read the review, agreed with all the points, and decided that I still loved the book anyway. I don’t care that it’s not perfect.

    The only time I’ve found myself regretting I recommended a book was when I’ve reread books such as My Sister’s Keeper. I hate to turn people on to ho hum writing (even if she is a good story teller), but what can I say? I liked the book at the time I was recommending it, and now that I’ve reread it, I don’t really like it at all.
    .-= trish´s last blog ..How Should An Author Handle Negative Reviews? =-.

  12. I post my thoughts about a book as soon as I can – usually that’s right after I close the book.

    If I read an interview at the end of the book and/or meet an author, it usually changes my perspective of the book. Just learning about the reasons behind it or hearing their passion about the characters they created is often enough to sway me a bit. Not from one extreme to another, but sway nonetheless.

    Talking about a book (club or friends) is always enjoyable, but it’s not a slam dunk that anyone will change my mind. It happens, but not often.