Wednesday, June 23, 2010

N.A.R.B Investigates: The Curious Case of Harriett Klausner

  I recently did a post paying homage to a reviewing legend: Harriett Klausner a.k.a 'harstan'. The lovely Katiebabs over at Babbling about Books, and More was kind enough to comment and alert me to some interesting information.
(Picture above is from my favorite anime series. How Appropriate?)
   Now for as long as I've been logging on to the internet and reviewing books (admittedly, not that long), Miss Harriett has always been a staple to the craft in my mind. I respected the way her reviews told me about the book as apposed to the poorly written drivel with no purpose some users would leave behind (apologies if I offend, but we all know what I am talking about). When I want to find a new book to read, I often check out the reviews left by users, to get a real feel for the plot. Klausner gave me what I needed, and many a time, I found myself making decisions based on the info she provided in her reviews. And she pretty much reviewed every single book I ever wanted,thought about, or already was reading, so my admiration and regard just stuck with me long after I made the switch from b&n reviewer to blogspot patron.
   But, as much as it distress me, the facts are the facts. Call me naive, but a small part of me wants to believe there really is a librarian in Georgia who reads all these books and shares her appreciation with the world. When writing my previous post, I didn't understand the magnitude of reviews and controversy associated with Miss Klausner until right before I hit the Publish Post button. Upon drumming up some quick facts for the post, I was not only impressed but a little taken aback at the official count of reviews done by Klausner. 19,000+ is a large number in any context of use, but it never crossed my mind in more than a fleeting fashion to question exactly how that number was possible. So, as pointed out by the various site's I've just become privy to, consider the following:

1.)For those who haven't heard of her, Harriet Klausner is the #1 reviewer on Amazon. As of right now, she's posted 15,584 reviews. Her very first review is on page 1,559 of her reviews listing, and it's dated November 22, 1999. That's nearly 2,000 books a year. That obviously isn't possible, even if she is a speed-reader. That'd be about six books a day. (January 28th, 2008 Source)
This was the first thing that struck me as odd as I typed up my previous post. This particular comment, along with the one beneath it are from a forum site I have listed as 'Source'. It's pretty cut and dry if you ask me. 

2.)To make it worse, she never gives a book fewer than four stars, which makes the reviews totally worthless. Said "reviews" are never anything more than a synopsis of the novel.(January 28th, 2008 Source)
-I have not verified this, but A lot of the reviews I read by her are usually up there in the star count. But I usually try to read the best of the best, so I am a poor authority on whether or not this is factual. But I'll keep an eye open.

3.)In elementary school, her teacher was shocked when Klausner handed in a 31⁄2-hour reading-comprehension test in less than an hour. Now she goes through four to six books a day."It's incomprehensible to me that most people read only one book a week," she says. "I don't understand how anyone can read that slow."(December 16th, 2006, Source)
-I was never much of a prodigy in school. For the most part, I did my work until I reached the 5th grade and then puberty compelled me to stop trying to over-achieve. #3, as reported by the reputable, does present a bit of a counterargument.
    All plausible arguments, wouldn't you agree? Shining a light on something like this really does make it hard to plead a case, even with that interview with the Times. I consider myself a practical and realistic girl, but pride and a little naivete make it hard for me to accept the clearly acceptable. No matter the evidence, a small part of me will always want to believe in Harriett Klausner's singular existences. I still hold her in an esteem and regard and credit her in-part for my ever-growing devotion to reading and reviewing. Her enigmatic presences in the reviewing world is one that is as entertaining and interesting as it is controversial.

So what's the verdict?: Because I am a stubborn optimist who simply can't accept good reason where sentiment is involve, I deem this case: INDETERMINABLE (lol)

Case Closed


  1. When I first heard about HK, I was in shock. My highest ever reading in a month was about 30 books and that was a combination of print and ebooks that rang from under 100 pages to 300 pages.

    HK has really made a name for herself and if you have the chance, read the comments people leave on her Amazon reviews. It's like watching a movie sometimes.

  2. I'm waiting for someone to do a real expose on HK. LOL

    Nice investigative work ;)

  3. Ah, Like trailing her as she locks up the library and heads home? Hacking her internet logs and emails? That's some heavy duty sleuthing. We need Sherlock Holmes for this one lol. I was looking for something like that but couldn't find anything. Pass along the link if you come across it. =D



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