I do it all the time.
I like to know what problems the book has, and if I’ll be able to stomach them.
I’ve gotten far harder to please over the years when it comes to books. I used to like anything that drew me into the story, and it didn’t take much. Unfortunately, it takes more to captivate me these days. I think you can say I’ve been ruined by writing. I see the mistakes other authors make. Sometimes the book is compelling enough for me to forget them, but more and more frequently it isn’t. So…I screen books differently.
What did someone else hate? Is that one of my pet peeves or something I can read around? Did it totally ruin the book for them or were there enough strong areas to make the book enjoyable as a whole?
Personally, I find the three star reviews the best. Those reviewers liked the book but the review itself contains no over-the-top rhetoric of why this is going to be “the next best thing.”
Of course, for my own books, I like five star reviews. Those reviews keep me writing. I love reading how someone LOVED the book, couldn’t put it down, and burned dinner because they couldn’t resist turning the page.
That’s what I strive for in my writing. I think I can safely say that’s what most writers strive for in their writing.
So…while I pick books by looking at the lower starred reviews, PLEASE keep writing those “I loved the book” reviews. Those reviews keep the author going, and authors need encouragement. Well…encouragement and sales. And the “most helpful” of that lot tend to be truly helpful.
But I’ll probably keep buying books based on three star reviews. Maybe I’m just contrary. Or maybe, by knowing the flaws to expect (and that I will need to overlook), I can dive into the story and enjoy.