The Importance of Knowing Your Own Taste: Ways to Avoid the HYPE and HATE Train

There are lots and lots of reasons to be clear about what you want in life and reading. For starters, there’s considerably less pain and more to gain. It’s a great way to find more joy, meaning and happiness. And it’s a strong way to avoid following the crowd off a cliff and into a great big steaming pile of cow dung (which you could’ve smelt from the top of that cliff if you’d only listened to your nose).

Cos yeah, we’ve all been there (figuratively speaking). We’ve all picked up that book we damn well knew we didn’t want to read; we’ve all taken someone else’s word to avoid something we later enjoyed. Then we’ve kicked ourselves for time wasted. We’ve all thought why did I listen/not listen to the hype just then. And of course, no one is fully immune to the nebulous methods of marketing gurus, but being clear on what you do actually want is a good way not to get swayed in either direction. It’s a good way to know whether to hop on that bandwagon… and it’s also a good way to steer clear of the cancellation fanatics too. Knowing your own taste is about being comfortable in your own skin (so that hopefully you don’t go all Buffalo Bill on your enemies).

The great thing about knowing your own taste is you don’t have to avoid different points of view… not that it would work anyway. Amazingly, you can’t socially distance yourself from every single differing opinion (much as some people would like to try) which is why it’s probably healthier to just take it in small doses 😉 And luckily, there’s this tried and tested method of just listening to people with different views/perspectives/tastes. I often read and watch reviews from people who don’t have the same opinions to me- and you know what? Doesn’t hurt a bit! Sometimes I learn something, sometimes I find something new to read… and sometimes nothing happens at all and I go on my merry way.

Because part of being a sentient human/primate is knowing not to take every word other people say as gospel. It’s only if we know ourselves that we can understand another point of view. That’s why if you know your own taste, you won’t have any trouble identifying where opinions overlap and where they diverge. It really is that simple.  

Plus, there’s the added bonus that it might just make you a better reviewer. I know we all like to pretend that our word is final, but taste is subjective! And that means knowing where other people might not agree with us. I, for one, have always been pretty clear that I like prose on the more flowery side (or as I like to put it, I’m firmly on the Fitzgerald side of the Hemmingway-Fitzgerald Divide). I also care less about world building than some other fantasy fans. Etcetera etcetera. Point is: it’s good to know when not to trust reviewers.

So, don’t just listen to me! Go with your gut. Pick up that book no one but you seems interested in. Read whatever *you* want to read (and then put it down again if it turns out it wasn’t for you 😉).  

Oh and just by chance, as I was finishing writing this post, this helpful video popped up in my subs:

Just some food for thought! What do you think? Do you think knowing your own taste helps you avoid the hype/hate train? Let me know in the comments!

20 thoughts on “The Importance of Knowing Your Own Taste: Ways to Avoid the HYPE and HATE Train

  1. …..and sometimes nothing happens at all and I go on my merry way.

    Ahhh, if only more people did that, blogging would be a more enjoyable hobby. Of course, I have to tell myself on a regular basis to get out of Battle Mode and just read the bleeding post 😀

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  2. This is such an important post! EVERY TIME I go against my initial gut instinct for a book, I am wildly disappointed.

    The more I listen to my gut and stick to my tastes, the better my reading experience is. After trying FOUR TIMES to enjoy a V.E. Schwab book, I have decided her writing isn’t for me. And that’s okay! Same with Leigh Bardugo. We all have different tastes and finite time, so why spend it on things we know we won’t like? Just to be part of a trend and say you read it? No thanks.

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  3. This is such a good reality check. I think we’ve all bee lured in by the hype bandwagon only to be disappointed. I know I’ve fallen for it on several occasions. I think theres always this resounding fear that you’ll get left behind if you don’t read the latest releases. However, my reading has taken a massive hit over the years and I’ve sadly not been reading as much and because of that I know to stick to books I’m likely to enjoy. I don’t have the time to read every book. I think it’s important to remember that everyone’s reading taste is different and having that in mind when deciding whether or not the book is a good fit for you will hopefully save you from falling down that rabbit.
    Brilliant post!!

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  4. I often find myself reading and enjoying books no one has ever heard of and ignoring books everyone talks about, because I seek out stories I know or have a good chance of liking. Knowing what you want or not want in a book is definitely key and I 100% agree with this post.

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  5. Wow, all that about listening to other people and then not being permanently scarred by it after all is groundbreaking stuff! That’s what I come here for!

    Yes, my taste is … not everyone’s. I’m constantly surprised by this, though, whenever I discover a book that I consider a gem and then I find out someone gave it two stars. This also goes for what we write, BTW. How do I choose what to research and write? It’s the stuff that I wonder why everyone isn’t researching and writing about it!

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  6. I did however give into the hype with Troy written by Stephen Fry. I liked it, but I didn’t get the deal. I could only *just* read it though. I found the whole lead up to Troy interesting. I just didn’t like the half page of notes from his books. Not to do with books, but I don’t like Bridgeton, lol … I like the costumes, but that’s about it. I don’t hate it, I’m just like “meh” with it.

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  7. Absolutely agree. It’s interesting to know which books have caught people’s attention, but more of for knowing what’s out there in the market. I do appreciate when I see a lot of people disliking a particular book, so I don’t bother with it if I don’t fall in love with the synopsis. (Brand new) books aren’t exactly cheap, so reserve purchases to books I truly want on my shelf, regardless of what other people think.

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  8. I think one way of knowing your own taste is to know which tropes you like and don’t like (or that doesn’t make a difference to you) in your most-read genres. The idea being that when you’re reading reviews, you’re looking for your make or break tropes (e.g. if I don’t like instalove, a positive review that mentions the protagonist having an immediate connect or something like that might give me warning signals).

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  9. I rarely enjoy books that have won major awards – this year is no different. My taste is clearly plebian rather than authorly. (Probably my writing is too.)
    I always felt it was unhealthy to subscribe to a newspaper I agreed with. It’s too easy to fall into a cosy state of ‘I must be right; everyone agrees with me’. On the other hand, I don’t want to be riled every morning either, so now I watch rival news channels on TV and only buy a newspaper for that centre-page puzzle spread when I’ve run out of puzzles.

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  10. I think, at this point, I am very aware of my own reading tastes and I can often know intuitively whether or not I will like a book just from things like the summary. Still, I sometimes jump on the hype train anyway just because I think it’s fun to be part of the conversation! Book bloggers often seem sad reviews don’t get as much interaction as discussion posts, but I think part of that is because it’s hard to comment on a book you haven’t read yourself. If I read a really popular book, I can go around and talk about it with several different bloggers and that feels pretty rewarding, even if I didn’t like the book as much as everyone else seemed to. I guess it’s kind of like a digital book club?

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  11. Great post! At this point in my life, I’m pretty aware of what works for me and what doesn’t when it comes to reading — and my reading time is limited, so unless there’s a good reason (like a book group obligation), I tend to be pretty picky about what I spend my time on. Not to say that I never read hyped books! Just that I’m pretty selective.

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  12. I’ve had too many bad experiences with overhyped books and now I only read those that absolutely appeal to my taste – and it’s all about the writing style, not just the story.

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  13. I am pretty set in my ways of what I buy and what I skip when it comes to books, but every so often I leave my comfort zone in an attempt to branch out my knowledge of past events as well as self school on the “classics”. I also try stay faar away from being hyped up by upcoming releases. There is an Afrikaans saying that goes along the lines of if you do not set expectations high, it wont bite you in the ass…

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  14. I definitely think that my taste is so set, and it’s helped me avoid overhyped, not-so-good, reads. Tbf, I don’t read enough of new releases, but I’m okay being a classic lit girl and working at my own pace :’)

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  15. Being part of a book club does mean I end up reading books that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself. Sometimes I’ve been pleasantly surprised – but I’ve also had books that I felt were wasting valuable time I could have used to read a book more to my taste. Now if the group chooses a book I have absolutely no interest in, I’ll come clean and tell everyone that I won’t join the meeting that month.

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  16. It is important to know your own taste. However, taste do change over time and that come with trying new things and changing as a person. When it come to following the crowd by reading/ not reading, people shouldn’t be told what they can and can’t read. When someone says a book is “problematic” ( the word is so overused) then read it for yourself and decide.

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