Meta book Reviews

Is there such a thing as a book review that sticks to the facts? I’m sick of reading opinionated reviews that focus on special circumstances. Satisfaction with what we read depends upon our motives. Our current situation and mood dictates our ability to enjoy anything that we do. Many book reviews do nothing more than recommend or discourage reading a particular title with very little reasoning. Half the time owners of bad reviews openly admit to not even finishing the book. It is impossible to offer a completely objective opinion. Our experiences , current and past, always cloud our opinions. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It does limit the usefulness of a book review down to those reviewers whom we share something in common and respect.

Different people respond better to certain writing styles over others. I may prefer a story told from the point of view of the main character. As mentioned before, motive is important. If a person closely identifies with a certain group, more than likely an unbiased account is not what they are looking for. If the purpose of reading a book is escapism than it may be easier to identify with a primary character of the same sex. If the reader wants to learn how to do something specific than speculation is undesirable.

My point is that there are certain facts that if known would be very helpful in choosing whether to read a book or not. A book review can be free of the opinions of the reviewer.

What would this opinion free book review look like? I’m not sure but I can imagine a system where a list of questions are answered. The answers would be useful for different reasons depending on the person reading the review. Obviously the questions would need definite answers and not opinions. As a simple example:

  • Is the text represented as fact?
  • Is it written in the first person?
  • Is the timeline linear?
  • Are there any deaths?

Concise questions could be very helpful. Despite the clarity of a question, it is always possible for people to interpret meaning differently. For example, maybe some people consider eating as a representation of death. I think that this type of problem could be handled in a couple of different ways.

If a numerical value were assigned to each answer then a score would be possible. The scores of multiple reviews could be averaged together to achieve a composite score. The more people that reviewed a book, the more certain we could be of an answer. For further clarity, questions could become very specific making it more difficult for there to be confusion.

Of course this would not be enough. Raw information on a book can only go so far. However, I think it would put some perspective on those same reviews that I mentioned before. If I had an idea of the type of book that I wanted to read than a metabook review could help me narrow down the list of potential books. I could then read a classic review to help me decide.