Thursday, October 24, 2013

Discussion: Star ratings

I just started this blog but I’ve actually thought about starting a book blog for quite some time. And one of the things I had to give some thought was how am I going to rate the books I read. Most people use star ratings with their reviews and I personally also use them at sites like Goodreads, but in reality, I don’t like star ratings!

Why don’t I like them? Well first of all, I am very bad at giving star ratings. When I rate books on Goodreads, I usually do it immediately after I’ve finished a book. So I don’t really have time to think about the book, so how I rate the book is the feeling it leaves me with right after reading it. That might work with some books, but very often I feel like I have rated a book unfairly. That maybe the book just made me feel all the feels and that’s why I gave it five stars when in fact it wasn't a book worthy of the highest rating. And on the other hand, sometimes I don’t know how I feel about a book, and I end up giving it three stars when in fact it turns out to be a book I think about weeks later after reading it. Of course I could go back and change those ratings, but what do star ratings actually tell about the book?

Star ratings are ambiguous, someone can give five stars with careful though when someone else gives them to every good book they read. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but my stars might not be worth as much as yours and sometimes when I try to find books to read, I get confused what’s actually good and I find myself wishing that my Goodreads friends would write reviews or at least some thoughts about the books they’ve read.

Of course I could use star ratings alongside of reviews, that’s what most people do, but I feel like often people just look at the star ratings and if a book hasn’t got enough stars they won’t even read the review. When in fact maybe it wasn’t a book for me, no one likes everything. Here’s a little reading secret of mine, I couldn’t get through Lord of the Rings and I actually really just don’t like it! But if I did read it, would I give it two stars because I found it boring or would I give it four stars because I can appreciate the amazing world building and characters in the book. And which rating would be fair?

That’s another thing, Lord of the Rings is a classic, and I have no doubt that it’s not brilliant and that there’s a reason why every person I’ve ever met loves those books so much. Rating classics is hard, because even as someone who is kind of a fan of classics, I sometimes find them boring or just really hard to get through. But I can still appreciate what those books have achieved, what is so amazing about them that people read them decades or even hundreds of years later.

So, I don’t want to be ambiguous. I want people actually read my reviews and that way find their next book to read. I want to have good discussions about books and what the words on those pages meant to me. I want to tell you about good books, great books and awful books and more importantly, let you decide whether you agree with me or not. I don’t want you to be fooled by the stars that I'm not very good at giving. And that’s why you won’t find star ratings on this blog, but I promise to tell you honestly what I think, even if I sometimes don’t love, or even like, everything I read.


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