Is it Right to Judge a Book Without Reading it First?

You see people rating books on Goodreads before they’ve been published — sometimes before they’ve even fully been announced! — all the time, right? I know I do, and most often these are ratings of five stars or one based on a myriad of reasons, either having to do with a prequel to the book in question, the author themselves, or the content (or supposed content) of the book.

My question is: is this okay? You’re judging the book and rating it before its even released (people who have ARC copies are obviously not a factor in this; they know what they’re feeling because they’ve likely read it), and you’re potentially affecting the opinions of other people looking in on the book, yet you haven’t read it yourself.

I know this can be a wild topic between people, but I’ve never had the chance to sit down and talk about it with someone before, so I’m taking it to my website. At what point, if any, is it okay to rate a book or judge it completely without reading it? Is it if you’re planning on reading it? Is it not at all, only after you’ve read it?

What about if the book is known to have racist aspects in it? Or content you don’t feel should be included in the book? Can you still rate it for this, and decide not to read it? Or should you state your opinion and then leave it be, or outright say nothing and simply refuse to read it in general?

I ask this because of a post my friend saw on Facebook regarding a book I won’t name. He doesn’t read, but he’s putting down a book (and also spreading misinformation about the book itself, but that’s another thing entirely) due to its content supposedly mimicking a movie that was released decades before the book had even come to fruition. He will never read this book, but he’s attempting to discourage others from reading the book and putting the book down without knowing if the book is as similar to the movie as he’s stating it to be. If he doesn’t know for sure, is it a good idea (or even fair of him) to be doing so?

(I say no, personally.)

What if the reason he were doing so was because the book had controversial topics, or blatant racism, in it? Would it be okay then?

(This time, I say yes. Opinion is difficult, isn’t it?)

But I want to know what other people think about this, and if their opinion would be enough to change my own (survey says yes — if it’s a good point, I take it into account and sometimes alter my own opinion with it) or if most people feel the same way I do.

I don’t personally rate books until I’ve finished them (and I do not rate books I DNF, since I didn’t finish them), but that’s just me.

Opinions, if you please?

(And thanks for reading!)

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11 thoughts on “Is it Right to Judge a Book Without Reading it First?

  1. In my opinion it is NEVER ok to judge a book without reading it. Especially on something like Goodreads. I have to admit I judge books (mainly in my own head) without reading them ALL the time, but I would never put a rating up on Goodreads without having read the book. That’s just weird! Especially since it is possible to state your opinion WITHOUT reading the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such an interesting take on a topic I’ve thought about a lot myself over the years. I think in most circumstances it’s certainly not okay to rate a book before you’ve read it, even if that rating is five stars. I think it stops others from going in with an open mind, even if I personally don’t read reviews before I’ve read a book. I know many do.
    However, a recent circumstance I saw blow up on Twitter did kind of change my mind about this topic. There was an author who posted a book aimed at helping parents of autistic children, with dangerous themes such as wanting to take the boy’s power of attorney and making him have a procedure which would stop him from producing children. She also mentioned his full name on several occasions without his permission, meaning people who knew him in real life could confront him and embarrass him. I think in cases like that it’s important to raise awareness of the dangerous views being shared and often the only way to do that is by sharing reviews. But again, I think it should only happen in cases where serious concern for the viewers of that book are concerned, like what you said about racism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whoa! I didn’t know anything about that happening (or, if I did, I completely forgot… I’m not the most active Twitter user :’D ). In the case there, I can most definitely agree it’s necessary to rate and judge the book (and then not even give it a chance, that’s terrible what she did, I went ahead and looked more into it), in order to raise awareness, like you said. By far, I can definitely agree with that. You have a good stance, imo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! I’m glad you agree. It was definitely a difficult time for a lot of people. It sucks that her book is still out there, but at least the movement put some people who would’ve otherwise read the book from reading it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. For books that are not ARCs and haven’t been released, no because you don’t even know what you’re rating. A good first book does not guarantee a good sequel.
    On the other hand I have judged books that I haven’t read but I did my research. I will never read Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth because she uses harmful tropes and stereotypes about POC, She even admitted that she knew they were harmful and still did it anyway. I find that disrespectful and for that reason don’t read anything by her anymore

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carve the Mark is actually one of the books I was thinking of specifically when I wrote that last bit! I can understand judging a book like that with how Roth went about it, because I don’t want to give her my money when she’s writing things like that and endorsing it. Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. i don’t rate books I haven’t read, and I don’t think it is ok
    even if i heard somewhere that it’s sexist or racist or something else-ist, if i haven’t read it, i won’t put a rating on it. if i feel strongly about the topic and wanted to give a rating i would actually read it, just so i can rate it

    Liked by 1 person

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