I’ve gotten 53 now at Amazon, which is kind of cool. A few authors say they never read their book reviews. Personally, I suspect that’s a rare few. I’ll confess that I read all of mine.
The first few were kind, even glowing: five-star raves about Saving My Knees and its message. Great, I thought. Then I looked at another knee book, this one by a doctor, that also had a few five-star reviews.
After the gushing endorsements were comments like this:
Nice try, doc. Five-star reviews by people with no prior history of reviewing anything on Amazon. What do you think we are, stupid?
A few mouse clicks later, I discovered that my reviewers too, as luck would have it, hadn’t written about any other book or product on Amazon. You might say that only shows the brilliance of Saving My Knees -- that it stirs timid, often unopinionated people into lusty cheers of affirmation and joy. :)
But I realized most people would not arrive at that conclusion. Rather, they’d assume the same as the commenter for the other book: that I was somehow involved in fraudulently obtaining five-star reviews.
Clearly, I needed some non-five-star reviews (“Yeah, a great read, with really good insights into beating knee pain, but I didn’t like his usage of semi-colons and what’s up with the mold in his camera?”)
Soon, my wishes were granted -- almost.
A couple of reviewers, it so happened, didn’t think the book deserved five stars. They didn’t think it deserved even two. Their comments went like this:
No substance. Too expensive. Way too long. Waste of money.
Be careful what you wish for, huh?
Anyway, the good thing about amassing 53 reviews is that the criticism -- agree or disagree with it -- looks authentic.
Sometimes I do want to disagree. Some comments leave me scratching my head or wanting to scream something like, “Page 37! Reread page 37!”
Then there are those ambiguous comments like “reads like fiction.”
In a five-star review, it comes across as high praise. In a two-star review, it carries an entirely different sense, suggesting I’m a breezy wannabe novelist, sacrificing useful information for the sake of indulging my creative whimsy to create narrative tension or capture the hue of a character’s eyes.
Finally, let me tell you about my favorite review. It’s not one of the most admiring. In fact, when the writer initially posted his thoughts, he gave the book one star or two -- I forget. In any event, I remember kind of shrugging. Can’t win ‘em all.
Then something really nice happened. He changed his review completely. It turned into a sort of mini-journal of his progress, following the ideas in the book.
And here’s what he wrote, over the course of several months:
6/20/2013 - I am a 57 year old ex-athlete with very serious chronic knee injuries and recently my left knee has taken a turn for the worse, leaving me with crippling pain and difficulty walking. I am still experimenting with the recommendations made in this book for my knee problem. The best way to tell if the advice given here is worth anything is to see if it actually works so I will let you know later what my results are...That’s really, really cool. Yeah, there are still some one-star reviews. But there are always going to be one-star reviews on Amazon that say things like “tiresome, tedious,” “disjointed,” “rambling,” “rubbish,” “worst book I have ever read.”
8/20/2013 - OK, it is now 2 months later and I used the advice in this book to devise my own knee rehabilitation program centered around a stationary bike. My arthritic knee is definitely improving as I can now walk a lot easier and no longer need to use a cane. I also don't lie in bed every night moaning in pain as I was doing before - it's nice to get a good night's sleep again. I am also completely off pain killers for more than a month. My knee still has a long way to go but I am really hopeful now. I'll update in a couple of more months...
9/11/2013 - The author is really onto something here as my knee continues to improve. Before reading this book I was preparing to do a lot of weight training to rehab my knee and I would have unwittingly destroyed the joint. Glad I found this book just in time to save my knee. The author gives sound advice with undeniable logic behind it. If I don't post here again it will be because my knee has recovered enough where I just don't think about this anymore.
By the way, those descriptions aren’t for Saving My Knees. They were used in one-star reviews of James Joyces’s Ulysses. ;)