Friday, August 21, 2009

rating books

I love Shannon Hale's blog post today on rating books. I agree that summing up an entire book with one rating is lame. I love Goodreads for many reasons, but the 5-star rating system drives me crazy. For a while I was constantly and compulsively changing the ratings of my books. Then I realized that it was impossible for me to rate a book that way. I don't usually either like it or don't like it or really like it, or whatever. There is much, much more to it than that. And actually, whether I overall liked it or not is usually one of the least interesting things to say about a book anyway. I do sometimes read books that I have a strong negative reaction to, and like Shannon, I think that is interesting, too. That's not the end of the discussion, it's the beginning. Why am I having this reaction? What does that say about me? Especially if lots of other folks don't seem to have that reaction. Once I read the first book in a series and I thought it was a fun read. Then I read two more in the series and I suddenly didn't like the first. That can't be communicated with stars.

What do you think?

9 comments:

Dina said...

Where are you? Spain yet? Sorry to get off topic, just waiting for some photos of your new digs. :)

Gabriela said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. The stars don't quite cut it. At least you can leave a review to go with your stars. I definitely find myself always wanting 1/2 stars.

I, too, am wondering where you are in your move-I'm assuming you're still Stateside.

yesweareonmars said...

Ratings are very subjective as well. I am often surprised what ends up on the best sellers list. I've also been disappointed at what ends up on Oprah's book list.

Ave said...

I agree. I read many light and fluffy types of books for escape. I enjoy many of these books but wouldn't necessarily want to recommend them or even admit that I have read them, like the "twilight" series or something by Stephen King. Stars are lame, they don't really give an accurate representation of how you feel about a book. At work I try to recommend books by first getting a feel for the patrons personality and what they might be looking for. It doesn't always work out, I guess I have weird taste.

Mallory said...

Agreed. I also compulsively change my ratings. Or it takes me like 20 minutes to decide what to rate it in the first place, and then I end up thinking, "Is it REALLY this important to me?! My word!" I still rate my books, but I think they're really only worth it if you write a review as to why, because like you said, the why is far more interesting than the stars.

There are some books though, like "Man's Search for Meaning" that are just incredible. My five- and one-star ratings tend to be pretty true to how I feel. If it's so strong that I give it all it can get or hardly anything at all, that's pretty much my thoughts one it. It's the stars in between that are ambiguous.

Meg said...

I'm with Mallory...the middle stars are killer.

Mallory said...

Haha, I just have to tell you your word verification right now is "bumsons." Haha, that's just really funny to me.

Lucy said...

We are in Minneapolis right now staying with friends. We leave for Malaga Tuesday morning! My first post from Spain will be on the Andalucy blog. I'll post the link again on this blog when I do.

I've used 1/2 stars and that helps a little. But I agree that writing a review is the best way to go. And of course that gives people the best inkling of whether or not they'll like it.

I think I'm much better now than I used to be at liking books for what they have to offer. I don't demand something from a book it was never meant to offer.

Yeah, I also agree that the middle ratings are hardest. I still have some books on Goodreads that I haven't rated probably never will.

Gabriela said...

It's funny you wrote this this week because I just finished a book that is killing me in the ratings department. The story was weird, and kind of depressing, but I loved how the author wrote-it was hard to put down. Know idea how to rate it.

Tuesday like today Tuesday? Best of luck! Can't wait to hear from Spain.