The title of this post may sort of sound like the beginning of a cheesy country song, but this is actually a push and pull I struggle with a lot when it comes to rating and reviewing and MOST ESPECIALLY recommending.
Sometimes I read a book, and intellectually, I think it's stellar. Tidy writing, banging metaphors, deep and timely themes, impressive characters, award worthy whozits and whatsits galore. But I didn't get the FEELS. My brain went "oooh, yes" and my heart went "blerghhhhhhh."
Sometimes I read a book, and, intellectually, I see the flaws. The pacing flags. The worldbuilding is thin. I guessed the plot twists. BUT OH DEAR SWEET SHIPPIDY DOO DAH, DID I GET THE FEELS.
I'm usually the type of person who (if you haven't noticed in my last 800 blog posts and 100k tweets) tends to review on the FEELSY FEELS side. I recommend with my big squishy hheart. I give five stars for my emotional investment (and my capacity for emotional investment in fiction is sky high), and not so much for the craft/quality of the book. I weight the emotional aspects of reading more heavily. In other words, I am massively subjective when it comes to reviewing.
Sidebar: Reading is an inherently subjective act, since all fiction is bound to be filtered through the reader's feelings/experiences/viewpoints/etc on and on, but even within that, I'm extra super purposefully subjective. I can forgive basically any flaws if I care enough about the characters, and I have before.
But this is where things get TRICKY. Because what if you FIVE STAR GUSH GUSH THESE ARE MY FAVORITE FICTIONAL CINNAMON ROLLS KNOW THEM AND LOVE THEM push a book on someone...who DOESN'T read that way? Someone who, when they read that book, says "oh, yeah, the characters were nice, but the plot was very predictable, and the worldbuilding had no heft to it. It's at most a three stars."
*small break to cry readerly tears* *being a chronic Recommender of Things is a tough job, my friends*
That person, it seems, is most like a person who reviews with their heads. They are good at weighing all the elements of a story equally. In some ways, their reviews can be trusted more, since they're slightly less influenced by personal taste.
(Sidebar the second: My reviews, I will be the first admit, are ENTIRELY SKEWED towards people who like the same tropes, genres, and SHIPSSSSS as me. Like, I know you wonderful people. Most of you like the things I like, which is why you keep showing up in my little corner of the interwebs.)
Or maybe they're NOT a head reviewer type person (all reviewers have heads and hearts, you know what I mean). Maybe they're also a heart type, but their heart type things don't line up with your heart type things!! Because that's the danger with being a heart-type reviewer: there is NO GUARANTEE that the things in that book that set your heart aflame, and made it easy for you to overlook the flaws, will be the same things that make a fellow reader's heart go kaboom.
It's all so fraught, you guys.
So, I want to know: do you review with your head or your heart? What do you do when those two things CLASH when it comes to a book?? Besides cry into the pages? Let me know!