I like to read book reviews. Mainly to get an idea about what inspires someone to make their opinion of the book public. Let's say that I'm sorta conducting a character study. :-)
I've noticed that many book reviews lean heavily toward a bias on 'taste' rather than critical opinion. This can result in a lot of negative reviews of books that are actually wonderful reads. And I don't think it's very fair to give a book 1 star just because "I didn't like it."
So how can we learn to appreciate (and consequently rate) books that are different to what we would usually read? Here are some things you can ask yourself:
1. Does the writing represent its genre well? (NOT, I hate science fiction, this book is shit!)
2. Are the characters' personalities developed well? (NOT, I hated the protagonist, she was a bitch. This book is shit!)
3. Is it paced well? If it slows down in places, are the slower moments warranted and utilized for a specific purpose? (NOT, Man, I got so bored when the guy was describing his home town, and then talked about how it shaped his entire life. I mean, I wanted action, action, action! This book is shit!)
4. Is it executed/edited well? (NOT, I would have written/edited this book differently. This book is shit!)
5. If it is about a subject matter that you aren't entirely keen to read about, do you think someone who is keen about the subject matter would enjoy it? (NOT, omg, this book was way too violent. I hate reading about violence. This book is shit!)
Do you think it's possible to appreciate a book for what it IS, rather than criticize it for what it ISN'T?