I try to go into a book free of expectations. I don't just mean books that are crazy-hyped like Anna and the French Kiss was, but just books that I'm really looking forward to and thinking that I'll enjoy.
I try to get rid of that bias before going into the book. It's so easy to expect one thing from a story (romance, action, family drama, anything) and then be disappointed if you get something slightly different or if, for some reason, it just doesn't live up to the image you have in your mind.
There are certain books that, regardless of any buzz they have or haven't gotten, I just expect to like. Twenty Boy Summer springs to mind, as does Fixing Delilah (both by Sarah Ockler), Beth Revis' Across the Universe, and Ally Condie's Matched. Each of these books sounded amazing to me when I first heard about it and I had to put my personal expectations of what I thought the story would be aside in order to read and review the books.
I was able to do this with three of the four books.
The fourth one was the only one I didn't really enjoy, and I can't even honestly say that I didn't like it because the truth is that it just wasn't what I'd imagined. There was this disconnect between what I thought the book would be and what it actually was. And in that space was a chasm of disappointment that came from me, not the story.
Recently I read another book I was really looking forward to. One that I first heard of long before it was published and that, from the get-go, sounded like my type of book. I really didn't want to be disappointed. I didn't want to go into it with expectations, imagining what the story would be and not being able to enjoy what the story actually was because of those expectations. I won't tell you what the book was or what I thought of it, but I want to know if you've ever experienced this... do you feel like you have to erase your personal expectations of a novel in order to really read and enjoy it for what it is?