Dec 14

Do external factors influence your opinion of a book? | Diary of A Book Blogger 

If you have read the announcement post, you know that this is the first post of a new series, where all of us bookish folk can chat about all things books. 😀 Even if you missed that post, you know now. 🙂

Today’s topic is a question that I have turned over in my mind several times, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

We all know that when it comes to a book – content is key. There is the plot, narration, character development, and then there are also other factors like – How did the book make us feel? Did we laugh out loud while  reading it, or did we cry along with the characters? Either way, a strong emotional connect goes a long way in shaping our opinion of a book.

All of these things have to do with the book itself. But sometimes there are things which have nothing to do with the book, but do influence our opinion of it.

Those things are external influences impacting our reading experience. Sometimes our general mood, the amount of time we have to read, the distractions that we are faced with, can, and do impact our overall feeling regarding a book.


I am very much a mood reader. As much as I love the genre of romance and Indian historical fiction, I cannot read them back to back. If I do, the law of diminishing marginal utility comes into play, and I like each consecutive book less and less, for no real fault of the book. Ofcourse I do counter this by intentionally picking up diverse genres. I mean I do everything that I can to give a book the best shot it can get.

But some things I cannot do anything about – like how busy my life is at any given point of time, and how much time I can give to reading. If I pick up a heavy, dense read when my life is particularly hectic and stressful – it will just bog me down and I will hate the book. So, in such cases, my feelings towards a book, have less to do with the book, but more to do with the overall reading environment and experience.

On a similar note, I often wonder about how much of my undying love for The Harry Potter Series is tied to the wonderful reading experience I had. I mean I literally grew up with Harry. A lot of my fondest memories from my teens have to do with staying up all night reading the series, and doing a marathon re-read just before the next book was about to come out, and then watching it take life on the big screen. That kind of experience is pretty difficult to beat. But then that is the thing – it was the right book, at the right time, and it made a world of difference.

I have also considered if I would have loved the book/series as much if I had read it now as an adult. Afterall the content is the same, and I am sure I will still love the story, because let’s face it – it’s epic! But will it have the same magical halo around it? I guess not. But in this case, what is done is done. The Harry Potter Series is pure perfection in my eyes, and nothing is changing that.

What do you guys think? How much do external factors influence your opinion of a book? What do you do to counter it? Was there a book you read that suffered due to bad timing? Do you give a book a second shot if you feel that it did not get a fair chance? Do you have a particular book that was the perfect read at the perfect time for you? Do share. I would love to hear from you guys in the comments.

Lots of Love

Linking this post to Write Tribe’s #Monday Musings & Literacy Musing Mondays by Mary Hill MondayMusingsBadge


  1. Usually I pick the book according to my mood so most often the liking has nothing to do with mood related things. But yes, reading too many books back to back belonging to same genres (or should I say same BASIC STORYLINE) does impact my overall feeling for the book.
    Shilpi Chaklanobis recently posted…The Malhotra Bride by Sundari Venkatraman – Book ReviewMy Profile

  2. Shanaya, I did enjoy the HP series in-spite of all things hectic, the size of the book, the fantasy. That says a lot for the popularity of the book. I was recently reviewing a fantasy novel. But, I could not. The writing was flawless and a good pace, but I just could not connect with it and I have decided to stay off fantasy. But still we love the Harry Potter books across ages, culture, ,countries, genres. I just want to say, if the book is good, it will engage us. If it isn’t, it will be a chore at any time.

  3. Now this is an interesting topic… never thought about this… but since I turn to books to escape the drudgery of my everyday life… I would not say that the external factors affect my opinion. How well I relate to a story or characters though is something that changes with the kind of experiences I have had 🙂

  4. I think I would have enjoyed Harry Potter even if I had picked it up today. There are some books which just beat all odds stacked against them. Also, I am the kind of reader who, while reading a book, forgets about external circumstances and gets totally immersed into a book. That being said, I do relate to a book more if it has a track that runs parallel to what I am going through or have gone through at one point in time.
    Nidhi recently posted…Crackle-Top Ginger CookiesMy Profile

  5. Nice points Shanaya, definitely, external factors influence me. If I am busy, I will read a good book, but might not enjoy as much as I read it in leisure, so I might feel it’s not that great.
    Sometimes, the blurb influences me to decide whether to pick it or not. So, if some great books don’t have an interesting blurb, I will miss them.
    The Genre is the most important thing. Even though few books are very good in that genre, I might not like them at all, as I don’t like that genre itself. I don’t like dystopian books much, so it doesn’t matter it it’s good or bad, i will not like it.
    My surroundings, weather and undisturbed environment also sometimes contribute to my love for some book. Ex: A romantic novel reading at a peaceful place in a hill station.
    Mahathi Rammya recently posted…Time for retrospection – End of the year 2015My Profile

  6. There are only a few authors I read regularly for pleasure and my reading time is extremely limited. The only time I have is when I am traveling on a mode of transportation that does NOT require me to drive. Consequently, I am always in the mood to read at these precious moments in time and rarely disappointed. You make a great point but for me, it does not matter.

    For my talk show, I try to read each of my guest’s books before I interview them. Again, timing is not an issue as it is “work” related.

  7. Harry Potter is something I haven’t got past a page of reading. Somehow fantasy doesn’t appeal to me much and this one was something else altogether. I have the entire set and I have vowed to finish reading it by next year. Fingers crossed!

    Although I pick up books based on reviews, most of the reasoning comes from myself. Is it a genre I would enjoy? Is the language good? How does the gist sound? etc etc. I have picked up a few unheard of books and have absolutely loved some of them. A book that has suffered due to bad timing is clearly the current one I’m reading, The Palace Of Illusions. I started reading this months ago and work has been so hectic after that I hardly find time to go back. Now I’m done with more than half of the book, but the time it took for me read it made me forget some important parts of the books. I will have to go back to reading it from first again.
    Soumya recently posted…Monday Musings #4My Profile

  8. Since for a while now I have been reading very selectively and after a careful consideration of what I want to get from a book, I am hardly ever influenced by any external opinions. But even when I was reading popular fiction etc I tried to rely more on my preference and taste when picking up books to read, rather than the reviews or opinions of others.

  9. You are right about this….external factors do influence your perceptions of a book. One such book that I found a drag was….Amish’s Oath of the Vayuputras….I was reading this book out of a sense of loyalty to its predecessors. But the timing was all wrong, a stressful time in life when I tried to use reading to counter it…..the book got on my nerves and I shamefully never did complete it 🙁 Btw….HP series is perfect at all times….don’t know why!

  10. The mood does affect your thoughts towards the book. HP is something that can be endlessly revisited IMO, but two other books come to mind when I think about mood and books:
    1) I first read God of Small Things in school and hated it. I read it much later as an adult, and now it is one of my favourites. I just could not get into the characters and their lives the first time round.
    2) I tried to read The White Tiger when it first came out, but didn’t like it much back then. I still have my copy, and I’ve been thinking of re-reading it since the past few weeks.
    Sreesha recently posted…Shantaram, by David Gregory RobertsMy Profile

  11. Before the internet became as easily accessible as it is today, I definitely did not have more than the blurb at the back of the book or the odd “New York Times Bestseller” title to go by before reading a book.
    And it helped me unearth some pretty good gems.
    Today, yes.. I do check out reviews before buying a book… it has more to do with the price (or rather, lack of a library option ) for me.
    And yes, the mood of the moment does influence me again – I remember loving Catch 22 when I first read it. Years later, I tried re-reading it and could not get through a third of it.
    Similarly, I started reading John Connolly during a dark phase in my life and his words totally resonated with my thoughts. Don’t know how the young me would have fared had he read the same book,
    Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted…Tata Zica – Indiblogger Meet: #MadeOfGreat Moments & #Fantastico MemoriesMy Profile

  12. Interesting question. I usually pick books on recommendations. I can’t read self help but other than that genre, I am open to everything so I ask folks I know and they recommend. I hardly pick a book on my own. But reading depends on mood – and time available. 🙂 Good luck on the series.
    Parul recently posted…Letter from Peking – Not just a bookMy Profile

  13. My reading is fairly limited by my schedule. But my opinion of the book purely depends on how well it can hold my attention. It is a popular opinion that I may have some residual ADHD. Thats why my favorite genre is thriller, suspense, etc. New events keep me hooked.

  14. I am not a frequent reader, but I read books which are suggested my friends, mainly thriller stories 🙂

  15. Although I do read reviews I generally go by my gut instinct when it comes to books. That and partly based on recommendations by friends who have similar tastes. There have been times when I have been pleasantly surprised too, so I guess it is an individual thing 🙂
    Shailaja recently posted…Cynicism: Does it make you happy? #MicroblogMondaysMy Profile

  16. Oh yes, mood, availability of time do matter a lot! I had a book to review, the author was following up relentlessly and I was swamped with exigencies at work and home. I really tried hard to read it (as if I had an exam the next day) and I neither liked the book nor could I finish it. I picked it up much later and loved it.
    A great topic for a series… looking forward to read more here 🙂
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…Top 5 Restaurants in ChennaiMy Profile

  17. Harry Potter series – I read it in my 30s and later – till last year. It’s perfect for all ages. It’s a fascinating world altogether and I go to it like a ‘pick me up’ when I feel low. As for moods affecting my reading, I have found that most fiction reading energises me. I love to laugh out loud, cry, love and hate along with the characters. I truly go deep within to the point that at times it takes me a while to relate to the real world. Then again, not all books have such a strong influence. But these are the books that I love the most.
    I remember reading the life histories of Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ in school. I have shed so many tears though I have re-read the same very many times.
    One book that I read when I was around 17: The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon. I gagged and was horrified after a few chapters. I left it midway (I have probably done that to 2-3 books in my lifetime). But later, I completed it in my late 20s; after reading the sequel: Memories of Midnight.
    Exorcist and The Omen marked me for life. I stopped reading even fun horror after those.

  18. What an interesting theory to discuss. I was an adult when the Harry Potter series started and I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was that it really turned my second son onto reading. My oldest was already a voracious reader but my Michael was reluctant. But he fell in love with Harry and has been a reader ever since. That series will always be special to me because of that.
    I also alternate the genres I read because like you, my enjoyment is lessened if I only read one continually.
    Susan Gourley recently posted…Christmas Joy Blog HopMy Profile

  19. I read the blurb and then pick up a book. Also, depends on my mood – when I’m not in the mood – I pick up something light and breezy.
    I also don’t go by reviews completely because there are 100s of books which I have loved and others wouldn’t have even heard of the author! 😀
    Word of mouth is something I do consider – thanks to my friends and my sister – I have found a few favorites that I treasure! 🙂

  20. Not all, but self publishing vs a well known publisher house makes some difference

  21. It depends. I could never read a sequel or trilogy back to back, no matter how much I feel like reading the next part right away. So I’m currently alternating between two trilogies – Ken Follet Century trilogy and Krisna Udayasankar’s Aryavarta Chronicles. Both as different as chalk and cheese 🙂

  22. I am a huge fan of HP and enjoyed the Twilight Series, too. Romance is my favorite genre but love reading thrillers, too as well as other kind of books. The name of the author and good reviews are deciding factors. One thing, by holding the cover of a book, I got the feeling that it’s gonna be book. The story premise is an interesting factor and yeah, mood played a part in keeping a book away for over a year. I also love Rushdie’s books which many find heavy. You name it, you get!! Robin Sharma, Sheldon, Rushie and the love rom com.
    Vishal Bheeroo recently posted…Your Bombay, My Mumbai our Bombaiya!!My Profile

  23. I tend to also mix my genres but since each book has a different language so it is not an isuue. The content, story, language and grammar matter most for me. Some might have a good story but bad language and that puts me off. Till date there have been a few that have been left incomplete due to lack of time but I plan to get to them eventually.
    Nice series you have started. I shall be checking it out.
    Inderpreet Kaur Uppal recently posted…India, InkHorn, Writing and PublishingMy Profile

  24. I’ve never thought about this before, but I think you are absolutely right. External factors definitely influence me, and it’s usually how busy I am at that point in time. If I have time to get into a book quickly, I usually devour it. If I’m pressed for time and can only read a few pages in a sitting, it takes longer for me to get into the book and I often enjoy it less. And like you, I need to alternate my genres. I like sprinkling in YA between contemporary fiction, since it’s usually a faster, easier read.

    Can you believe I never read Harry Potter? I know, I know. My only defense is that the books came out when I was having babies and consumed by early motherhood. Now there are just too many other books to read, but maybe one day I’ll tackle that series!

  25. I think my books also affect some external factors. For example, I fairly consistently listened to a playlist of Chopin waltzes while reading Harry Potter in high school. If I hear any of those pieces today, I think immediately of Harry Potter.

    I know that I enjoyed reading that series so much more during that time because I often read them at the same time as my friends, waiting eagerly for the next one to come out. My husband recently read them, and while he enjoyed the story line, it didn’t seem like the same magical experience I had as a kid.

  26. Yes, mood and time do a play a role in picking up a book (rather than the general reading experience for me)
    Catcher in the Rye was one book that I remember reading as a teenager and disliking it, and then I picked it up very recently and my views changed quite a lot. Perhaps with age and the experience of reading varied books and styles has made me into a mature reader…I can appreciate more varied styles of writings. But there are few genres like fantasy and sci-fi that I don’t enjoy that much…
    Except HP series…who doesn’t love that! :).
    Aditi recently posted…The Books that Made You @blogchatter #bookloveMy Profile

  27. I haven’t read any books. 🙁 The first book i’ve started to read now is Chetan Bhagat’s – Two states and One night at the call centre.
    Ajay Pai recently posted…One-Night Stand.My Profile

  28. I haven’t read a good book lately. Time keeps flying. It took me two months to finish those books i reviewed last week. I need to find a day a week where I am determined to read a book. I love all genres, but lately my favorite has been realistic fiction. I use to love historical romance, but right now don’t like this genre at all. Thanks for sharing on Literacy Musing Mondays.

  29. I agree wholeheartedly. I believe that if I had read The Giver in junior high before reading 1984 in high school, I would have enjoyed it more. Also, I read 1984 in an English class with a teacher who annoyed me. I didn’t like most of the books I read that year because of lousy class discussions and assignments. Then I reread 1984 a couple years ago on my own, loved it, then read the Giver soon after which was a disappointment. Where I am in life, who I discuss books with, the order in which I read books contribute a lot to my opinion of a book.

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