Book and Movie Reviews: Not just for the pros anymore – thanks to social media

In the old days…

Yes, I am old enough to use that phrase.  In the old days, if you wanted to read a review about a book or movie, you had to rely on print media and entertainment shows.  And you had to do it on their schedule.  You could read the opinions of expert movie and writing critics who actually had advanced degrees.  Their opinions were certainly of interest but did not necessarily reflect the views of the everyday reader and viewer.  There used to be, and still are, book clubs, where like-minded people could discuss specific books they were reading. My friends and I are avid readers and one of them suggested we start a book club.  Surprisingly, she was unanimously shot down by everyone, including me.  No one wanted to read on a deadline and that was the end of that.  Social media has changed the book and movie review process and allowed everyday people to offer their opinions.

Image: Pexels

You can be heard on social media

There are many social media tools available to those who wish to read reviews on books, films and TV shows that also encourage discussion.  Goodreads is an excellent resource for writing and reading reviews on books.  They have thousands of contributors and also offer author blogs and their own awards system.  And the quintessential source for movie reviews is IMDB.  This comprehensive site offers a fantastic array of information about movies and TV shows as well as allowing users to provide their own reviews.  The advantage to all of these applications is that reviews are allowed by anyone, not just the so-called experts in the field.  Both Goodreads and IMDB are also well organized to allow for easy search and cross referencing.  Trying to remember that movie where you first saw that guy?  IMDB will definitely help you find out.  Do you want to know how many books you read in a year and how they are being received?  Goodreads lets you do that.  Discussion boards abound. 

I do follow one hard and fast rule when using these sites.  I will not read any reviews about a book or movie until after I have actually read the book or seen the movie first.  I use these sites as validation about my experiences and to gain additional insight and not to filter out what I will and will not read or watch.  (That’s not entirely true.  If my husband is suggesting we watch something obscure on Netflix, I will see what its overall rating is before deciding to watch.  This got me out of watching The Emoji Movie.)  When I read The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, I was not that impressed.  This book had many effusive reviews on its cover (they all do of course), but I was underwhelmed.  I was gratified that many people on Goodreads felt the same. 

That little thrill

While reading my classmate, Jennifer Biemond’s blog, I really understood that little thrill we get when something we have posted is liked or commented upon.  When I’ve taken the time write a comment or offer my opinion on social media, I do get that jolt of excitement when I get any kind of feedback.  I used to belong to an online group called Answerbag (now defunct) and the more responses I got to my input, the better I felt about it.  I would check it several times a day.  Often, the responses would validate what I was thinking but it also made me feel heard – that what I had said had resonated with someone. As Jennifer mentioned in her article, it made me feel important.  That is a powerful pull.

Will I be able to take it?

I do love these applications.  But I do ask myself, if I do ever get published, and my writing is out there, how will I respond to the inevitable negative comments?   There are bound to be some.  Because of the power behind others’ comments, will I be hurt if my work is panned?  I hope that I can find some value to those types of comments when and if they occur.  Knowing that it can happen will certainly not stop me from trying to achieve that goal. 

Image: Pexels

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4 thoughts on “Book and Movie Reviews: Not just for the pros anymore – thanks to social media

  1. I really appreciated your post! I’m hoping to publish a novel at some point and I hadn’t even thought about the online reviews or how accessible we all are now online. So I’m glad you posted this because now I will be able to prepare myself when the time comes. I also really like your pictures.

  2. I enjoyed your article as it is very relatable. I always go online to read reviews about the latest kids movies, just make sure they are appropriate for my kids, and watchable for me as an adult. I laughed out loud regarding your comment on The Emoji Movie, as my kids wanted to see it, but upon reading the reviews, there was no way I was paying $11/adult and $7.50/kid (i have three children) to see that movie. Glad to see I wasn’t alone. My husband thought I was crazy for googling shows on Netflix but I had the stop the constant scrolling he was doing. Wasting 30-50 mins just looking at what we could watch instead of just watching something. I guess there is some good to all these reviews out there.

  3. I also use sites like Goodreads and IMDB – but it’s true, comments are so subjective I try not to let it sway me too much. When a movie has been given a star rating based on reviews I like to see how many reviews/opinions that is based on as well. The only arena where I sometimes let reviews sway me prior to making a decision is on trip advisor!
    Don’t let the idea of negative comments hold you back – it is something special to be talented to write, publish and promote! You can’t lose when you put your heart into something 🙂 I used to have this quote posted in my office: “I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone”

  4. Like you, I remember the good old days. I recall watching Siskel and Ebert on television for their movie reviews, looking in the newspaper for the “Best Seller” book list for fiction and non-fiction or the food critic’s review of a local restaurant. All of these reviews formed an important part of my decision-making: whether to go to the movie theatre and see that “chick flick” movie, go the book store and pick up the mystery thriller to read, or go to the restaurant and have a great dinner as a couple out on the town for a night. Now, it’s largely Netflix at home, e-books on a computer or Skip the Dishes brought to your doorstep! Times have changed. For the better? May just different, that’s all.

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