Captivating, splendid or instructive? Assessing the impact of reading in online book reviews

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What is the impact of reading fiction? We analyze online Dutch book reviews to detect overall affective impact, narrative feelings, response to style and reflection. We create a set of rules that analyze the reviews and detect the impact aspects. We evaluate the detection by asking raters about the presence of these aspects in reviews and comparing these ratings to our detection. Interrater agreements are weak to moderate; however, there is a significant correlation between the model’s predictions for all impact aspects except reflection. The detected impact correlates with book genres in the way one would expect: Narrative feelings are highest for thrillers, and stylistic response is highest for literary books. We can thus estimate some aspects of the response books evoke in readers. Initial results suggest that the appreciation of style is linked to reflection in the reader. However, the concepts underlying the impact categories need further exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-93
JournalScientific Study of Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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