August 16, 2015 seeing_admin

To Read or Not to Read: Amazon Book Reviews

img_7378-stack-of-books-dark-background-q85-306x500Every writer is a reader and vice versa. Recently, I had a friend recommend that I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I was moving away from my home of over a decade and leaving family which had lived close by for that same length of time. My friend told me the book came to mind as we were talking about my upcoming move. Even though the move made sense in my head, my heart was breaking and I was in tears more often than not because I was leaving Hawaii and moving to California. (I apologize California residents, but I’m fairly sure there were local Hawaiians applauding my move!)

Those kinds of intuitive connections are important to me and so I went to the library and got the audio version because I spend a good deal of time in the car. Years ago I’d read the short novel and remembered really liking it. Books always came to me that way: a friend and I would be in conversation and based on what we were sharing with each other, the friend would say, “Have you read…? It became a means of connecting what was happening within my psyche and what was happening around me. Always, there’s been a connection that links the two, something “meant for me” as I read the book, a bringing together of yin and yang, in a sense.

Every reader, if an avid one, is a closet writer. (Well, that may be a bit of biased opinion because I was one for years, but there’s truth to it, I believe.) That connection forms the basis for those who write Amazon Reviews, that and the reviews themselves becoming a marketing tool. I hadn’t noticed it before but there are people who write hundreds of reviews for Amazon. And I’ve recently read reviews that end up being a near novella in their own right—goodly treatises that delve into character, setting, plot, conflict, theme, etc.

In the scenario I’m sharing, I read The Alchemist before I read the reviews. Doing so turned out to be a good thing!

The book moved me. It’s the story of such a lovely journey! I’m not going to review the book—there are scads of reviews on Amazon, but I loved the book as much the second time around as I did the first. I read it at a time in the desert when the heat from the blistering summer sun faded ambition and bleached dreams. The heat got into every pore of my being and it took strategic planning to make it through each scorching day. Plus it was a synchrony for me—it connected internal and external, spiritual and physical—due in part to the setting for the book, which takes place in the Saharan Desert.

After listening to the book via audio I wanted a paper copy. Off to Amazon, I went. That’s when I chanced to read the reviews. The reviews ranged from “This is Zen magic” to “…and he claims to be a writer”, (both of which are my summary of the spectrum of reviews).

I understand the purpose for the reviews—I think. What I’m not so sure about is whether or not they serve the purpose for which they were intended. Or, have they become a venue for wannabe writers to practice their written voice, a place for friends to hi-five friends, or merely opinion poll?  Not necessarily a bad thing, you just gotta know what you’re looking for when you look up an Amazon book review.