I have been wanting to start writing discussion posts FOR AN ETERNITY now. I absolutely adore bloggers who can write those long, thoughtful and extremely readable discussion posts. So here I am, attempting to write my first discussion post.
Let me tell you the truth, I am super scared to write this! I am not sure if I have the ability to coherently jot down all my thoughts on the topic – even though that’s exactly what I created this blog for! So, if you like anything about this post, or if you have any suggestions – I will be grateful if you let me know about it in comments, pretty please?
Examples: A lot of reviewers think 3 stars marks a book as bad; do you? What makes you personally rate a book 3 stars? Do you hesitate to pick up books that seem to get a lot of 3 star ratings? Do you think a 3 star rating is good, bad or neither?
The topic of rating books is nothing new in the bookish world, and every book reviewer has struggled with it some time or the other. Even when all of us would like to think and portray we have a solid and objective rating system in place, the more one reads, the more this system starts looking arbitrary. After all, how can one even begin to reduce the plethora of feelings related to a book to a mere number?
My Experience With Rating Books
When I started reviewing books on this blog, I didn’t really put a lot of thought behind rating a book. I let my feelings guide me and thought I was doing a fair job. Unlike a lot of people in the bookish community, my experience with rating books, even on Goodreads, was awfully limited. You see, I have never really been the one for tracking my reading anywhere, and I can’t recall rating even 10 books on Goodreads before I started blogging.
The problem with rating books
Gradually and inevitably, I was faced with the dilemma of rating. Reading is a hugely intimate and emotional experience. Not only does one’s reading experience depend on the reader, but also on other parameters such as mood or life events, for example. Reducing the entire experience down to a number seems like a crime – even more so as I fear people would simply take one look at the rating and make a snap decision about the book. How would you feel if you, or worse still, your child (brain child in this case) is judged simply by a score, a rating? There is as much math behind reading a book as there is behind judging a person, which is to say, absolutely none.
Moreover, there is no way ratings can be made “objective”. Even though I have seen a lot of fellow bloggers employ complex rating methodologies such as CAWPILE, rating books on multiple parameters and arriving at the final average rating, it is still subjective!
Why are ratings a necessary evil
However, as a reader, I understand why someone would gravitate towards ratings. No one really has the luxury of time to read every review and then decide whether to spend time on a book. How is one supposed to choose their next read, or even shortlist one, if not for the ratings. Ratings exist to help find a method to the madness – to help sort through the billions of books on the planet and hopefully discover some good ones in the process. It goes without saying though, it is not a full proof method.
How do I perceive ratings
Are book ratings a factor in making me select a book to read? Definitely yes. Are ratings the only parameter? Absolutely not.
Ratings mean absolutely nothing to me when I am looking at an individual person’s views. I barely even register the rating, and am more interested in learning what they thought about the book.
However, I do consider ratings on platforms which aggregate ratings from hundreds and thousands of people, such as Goodreads. Even then, I rely more on what elements constitute the book and not the ratings themselves. Over time, I have come to recognize exactly what things I appreciate in a book and gravitate towards books I know I will enjoy.
The easiest and fastest way for a book to make its place in my TBR is through recommendation by some of my most trusted book bloggers. In these cases, I pay absolutely no heed to ratings anywhere else.
In other cases, I do consult ratings, together with the blurb, genre and author. I rarely pick up books rated below 3.5, unless they are written by an author I love or someone has recommended it strongly. Even with books with much higher ratings, I am generally picky. I definitely go through a few reviews before making a decision.
How do I rate books
The easiest ratings to give are 1-2 and 4-5. These are cases when my feelings make the snap judgement and I don’t usually question them. I rarely rate a book 1, unless it had some very obvious and glaring issues or it failed to stimulate me at all. Among the 80+ books I have read so far in 2020, I have rated only one book a 1-star.
2.5 to 3.5 on the other hand is a lot harder. A 3-star for me is a solid average, something which I enjoyed reading, but did not have a profound impact on me either emotionally or intellectually. It was definitely fun to read once, but I might not read it again. Extrapolating this logic, a 2.5 star is slightly below average read for me, and a 3.5 star is slightly above average.
Is 3-stars a bad rating?
Absolutely not. More often than not, I do not have any strong emotions related to a 3-star book. I definitely enjoyed it, but would I recommend it? Depends on whom I am recommending it to. It just might be the perfect book for you, or it simply might not be your cup of tea.
If it was upto me, I would read all the books that catch my interest without giving two hoots about the ratings. I would be quick to DNF ones that don’t captivate me, and read everything else under the sun. At the very least, I would go through a good number of reviews or ask if any bookish friends have read it before making a decision.
Sadly, no one has that kind of time. So ratings have to serve as a means to streamline the selection process. It does mean that I end up not reading a lot of books I would have loved. But that is bound to happen anyways right? So many books, so less time!🥺
What do you think about rating books? How do you rate books?
Is three stars a bad rating for you? How do you select which books to read?