Are you looking for websites with the best book reviews online?
This post is for you.
By the end of it, you will know where to go when you need detailed and unbiased reviews on non-fiction books.
Best Book Review Websites
This list of best book review sites it not for all kind of books.
It indeed focuses on non-fiction books.
Specifically, for the types of books that will help you grow, learn, and move forward in life.
Albeit some novels might also fit in that category, most do not. So all the sites focusing on reviews of novels, romances, and generally reading for reading’s pleasure, are not included here.
You might have heard of this one :).
Amazon is the most popular book review website.
I do always make a stop on Amazon on almost every single book review I write. First of all, because I get affiliate links from Amazon :). And once I’m there, I also always visit the review section.
With time I have learned the ins and outs of the system, and this is my opinion on Amazon as a book review site:
- Quantity of books: there is a review for almost any book out there
- Quantity of reviews: plenty of reviews for each book
- Sorting: I love the option sorting by stars or by highest voted
- No expert reviewers: anyone can review on Amazon. That’s a bigger issue for information products than for, say, a vacuum cleaner.
- Swayed by fans/hater reviewers: at Amazon you don’t even need to buy a book to review it. I’d be surprised if lots of reviewers didn’t even read the book but only vented their opinion or supported a friend/idol (or trashed an enemy)
- Most fake reviews: since Amazon is the the most popular platform, it’s also the most targeted by fake reviews. Including, of course, from the author themselves
- Smaller books completely unreliable: albeit all books have fake reviews, the not so popular ones are the easiest to sway.
- Confirmation bias: people tend to buy what they like, so you get more fans and less critical reviews
- No book reviews: finally, Amazon reviews is not a content reviews section. Many conflate the book quality with the Amazon or seller service. You’ll often see 1 star reviews complaining about the book handling, shipping or status. Those add up in the final rating.
I’ll give you an example that covers a lot of the cons of Amazon as a book review site: the book The Secret.
The Secret is a book which tells you not to work on your dreams and goals. Anyone in his right mind who wants to achieve his goals wouldn’t know what to do with such advice.
But The Secret is a best seller and it has sky high rating.
People who buy The Secret are probably already law of attraction aficionados, so their ratings are as credible as Trump supporters on Trump’s mental fitness (or Clinton supporters on her pay per play habits, let’s not be partisans).
A solid, all seasons place to get book reviews from all sorts of readers. Just keep in mind the shortcomings (and the high number of fake reviews).
#5. Google Books
Google Books is smaller than Amazon, but I found the book reviews to be slightly better and more objective.
As an open, grassroots project, it has many of the same advantages and disadvantage of Amazon.
- Higher quality reviews compared to Amazon
- Easily deceived, especially for smaller books. If you read a book like Published you will realize that in open system lots (most?) of the reviews can be fabricated.
Goodreads is a social network of book reviews.
The idea is just awesome: you can write your own reviews, exchange opinion with friends or simply just follow people you trust.
- You know the reviewers
- You can better target subject matter experts compared to Amazon/Google Books
- Facebook of books: I joined it with the idea of only following reviewers I liked, but I immediately got friend requests from pretty much all the Facebook friends who were also in there 🙂
- Best of the best are not there: not all the top reviewers are on Goodreads because they have their own websites
#3. Derek Sivers
I sent an email to Derek some time ago and I can attest he really replies to all the emails he receives :).
I love the honest reviews and I am adding several titles from his list to my reading list.
- Does not mince words
- He’s been a successful entrepreneur: he has the results to back his business book reviews
- No categories: summaries are all mixed in a single page, going from history to biographies to self-help
#2. Nat Eliason
I love Nat’s articles and reviews.
Nat has a very critical mind. He looks at facts, research and has little patience for rehash.
I find that we often agree on many books -with the due exceptions, such as Sapiens :)-.
I discovered Nat’s website recently and I will soon be going through some of his top book picks that I haven’t yet read.
#1. The Power Moves
When it comes to self-development, the book reviews page on this website is the deepest and most organized I have seen so far.
In terms of quality, well, I might be biased there.
You be the judge for that.
Not Good Book Review Sites
I didn’t find the following book review websites to be very good sources for prioritizing your reading list:
The New York Times
The New York Times reviews read more like a book themselves than book reviews. You might like that, or you might not.
Personally, I don’t.
Book Review Websites
There are many book review websites.
But they are more for people who want to sit with a cup of coffe, a blanket on their feet and a cat nearby. Best if with a partner nearby and with a fire during winter.
These websites cater a lot to people who “read for reading’s sake”.
That doesn’t fit my goals and my audience’s goals. We read to improve, develop and move ahead in life -of course, most of us also love reading too, but it’s not the only motivator-.
General book review websites include:
- Kirkus Reviews.
- No for high achievers: reading for reading’s sake is not for highly driven people
How to Use Book Review Websites
As I explain in how to efficiently absorb knowledge, I often read reviews before I start reading the book.
It helps me prepare my mind for the information I am about to absorb, which makes my reading and my knowledge acquisition all the more efficient.
I also read reviews after I read the book, and especially so when I’m not sure I fully got the message.
On my after-the-book review reading, I look for the following:
- Criticism of the book (some imperfection I missed?)
- Opposing information (what are other theories in the field?)
- Similar books (which I might get)
- Is the book still valid (or are there new current of thoughts and/or studies that disprove the book?)
What to Look For in Site Book Reviews
To make your reading efficient, you should find book review websites that give you clear and concise information.
I especially look for reviews that highlight:
- Main concepts in the books
- Main drawbacks
- Criticism (from the reviewer or from the rest of the literature)
- And finally: does the reviewer recommend the book?
That’s why for me it’s so crucial to trust the reviewer.
I need to trust the reviewer almost, and sometimes even more so, than the author of the book.
That’s why I’m not the biggest fan of Amazon reviews.
And that’s why I don’t like book reviews from big newspapers -like The New York Times-.
They all tend to be too flowery, long and unstructured.
You finish reading the book review and you’re not even sure: did the reviewer like the book or not? Does he recommend it or not?
I’m not looking for a literary piece.
I’m looking for information that makes my knowledge acquisition as efficient as possible.