Hobby-horses and other positive review pitfalls

Lance Mannion breaks down the many varieties of glowing reviews that convince him he’d never want to read a book, “even if it was just me and that book alone on a desert island together. I’d swim for it first.”

There are the too enthusiastic good reviews, there are the “this book is profound” and its brother the “this book will change the way you think/feel/live” reviews, there are the desperately trying to think of something good to say about this book reviews, which come in several flavors themselves — the “I’m too nice to give this book the ripping it deserves” review, the “the writer of this book is a whole lot more famous and influential than I am and so I don’t dare give it the ripping it deserves” review, and the “this book isn’t any good but the author looks really hot and maybe he/she will call me if I puff his/her book” review.

But the positive reviews that are most negatively persuasive to me are the ones in which the reviewer jumps on a personal hobby horse and rides it madly up hill and down dale until the rockers splinter and fall off. This one also has different variations. My least favorite is the one in which the reviewer reveals she believes she has found a soulmate in the author of the book and lets herself get caught up in imagining the two of them hopping on the same hobby horse and riding off into the sunset together.


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