To Rate or Not to Rate

imageI’ve been blogging now for almost a year and, since I started, I’ve never been quite sure or felt quite right about how I rate the books I read. I know, as someone who reads a fair few book blogs myself, that ratings help me decide if I want to read a book, especially once I’ve come to trust a blogger’s recommendations. The same is true for reviews in magazines and newspapers. At the same time, I often find myself agonising over ratings for my own reviews and what to “score” books.

Early on, I tried to solve the problem by giving books 1/2 or 3/4 ratings but pretty soon gave up on this as just too complicated. Plus, they still didn’t properly express how I felt about a book, especially when it got to the three star rating. To me, this suggested average when I saw it on other sites but I sometimes rated a book 3 out of 5 because of one or two little things that had bugged me…and might not bug anyone else. I wondered if I was being fair to these books but also couldn’t give them a higher rating because that didn’t feel right either.

I also had a bit of an issue with consistency as I don’t score the books I read for the Classics Club or other challenges like Play On! or the books I’ve been revisiting. These, I just give my opinions on. Don’t as me why as I’m not sure – because they are older definitely but also because, in my head, they weren’t reviews. Except they are because my writing about them tends to follow the same format as books I’ve been rating.Β 

In January, I started adding an opinion along with my ratings, saying whether I loved a book or liked it a lot. That felt better. More in line with how I would share a book with family or friends and with how I wanted to express my opinion on what I read. Β As with my fractionalised scoring system though, I think I was just making things more complicated for myself (I like to do that in most parts of my life – again, don’t ask me why – so no surprise I did it here).

Which brings me to today and this post, which is a very round-a-bout way of formalising something I have been working through and Β towards for a while and actually started last week with my review of Dead Wake when I decided not to give it a rating. I have to say it felt good and so it’s how I think I’ll go along for a while at least. What do you think – do you prefer ratings or not? Or do you not mind either way as long as the review tells you what you need to know?

Emma

[Photo credit: Got Credit]

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14 thoughts on “To Rate or Not to Rate

  1. As a reader I like either being able to see a bottom line of whether the reader liked a book or not or a rating. It is so frustrating to read a review but finish reading and wondering BUT BUT BUT…did they like it??

    I’ve dropped the numerical rating from my posts for much of the same reasons you did but I do put a cheeky little phrase in it’s place. But the bottom line is, we will always put our personal feelings into what we think of a book. It’s hard to do it objectively!! What might be one person’s 5 star read might be another’s 3 star (looking at you Fault in Our Stars!). πŸ˜‰

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    • I don’t know why when I like ratings on other sites I don’t on my own but I think I’ve just got to go with what feels right. You are right it will still be objective but it doesn’t feel as final. When I get organised enough I hope to put an image / the words bolder for my final thought but at least I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. πŸ˜„

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  2. When I started my blog, I gave ratings. But after a while, I just realized how hard and subjective the number system is. Now I do something similar to the Book Riot website; I tell people whether they should borrow it, buy it, or skip it. It works really well.

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  3. If you were talking to a person (me, for example!) in person about a book you loved, would you rate it before/after proceeding? Or would you simply talk?

    If you are writing a review, it might challenge you a bit to have to convey what worked/didn’t work without resorting to a rating? (I don’t mean that to be insulting! Or to bash people who use ratings — at all. I just mean that having to write without them might help you shape what worked/didn’t work within a piece of literature — classic or contemporary. Which could help you sharpen your literary chops, if that’s something you like to do.)

    If you are only journaling (like me — all emotion!) then rating may seem beside the point, depending on who your audience is. I write for myself & thus likely frustrate people like Trish above, who want to know what I ultimately think. πŸ˜† I generally have no idea what I think. I’m just taking things into the bigger picture. At the end of things, I probably still won’t know what I think, but I will have experienced. So I write about the bits I felt and learned, a lot, rather than analyzing & trying to thumb up or thumb down a book. I’d probably often give a book five stars for being awesome, which really just reduces everything to the same measure. In my world. πŸ™‚

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    • I think I write about books because I enjoy them so much but also because I wanted to be more than a passive participant after spending more than a bit of time reading other blogs. I think I rated them because I felt I had too. As I get more comfortable with what I’m writing and with the fact that I am simply enjoying blogging, ratings seem less important. I still feel like I have to get to the bottom of what I think but not just with a number that is so objective.

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  4. I use Goodreads for rating (I don’t tend to do it on my blog) and I do struggle with it as well. Most of the time I go for enjoyment factor – if I loved reading it it gets 5 stars, if I hated reading it it gets 1 star. Problem with that are that there are some truly remarkable books which make one thoroughly miserable! I try not to worry, but it does make my reviewing approach a bit inconsistent πŸ™‚

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    • I struggle with Goodreads too – though mainly because I forget to comment / update and then have tons of books to put on at once! I think as well there are books I put down and think they were great then a week later find I’ve forgotten everything about them…but had given them 5 stars. Others I end up thinking more fondly of as time goes on.

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      • So true! Books I didn’t think much of at the time have lasted for me far more than I realized they would, and books I thought I loved? Definitely wouldn’t make my favorites list now. πŸ™‚

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  5. I’m not sure how much the actual rating matters to me compared to the opinion . In my 2nd grade reading group, we rate the stories but then we also talk about our rationale behind the numbers. That tells me more about the story than the numbers.

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  6. Ahhh this is such a tough topic! Like I really appreciate being able to see at a glance if this is going to be a review about a thing you love or a thing you hate. Any kind of signifier is good, whether it’s a rating or like a “buy, borrow, skip” kind of deal. I’ve had so much trouble with the star thing that I decided to do a 1-10 rating. But those numbers feel hard to decipher now because nobody else really uses it? I’m trying to figure out what to do as well. Maybe I’ll switch to single words like: Loved, Liked, Ok, Ick. Ick of course being my most professional option haha.

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  7. […] halfway through the month, I decided to stop giving books ratings out of five.Β  You can read why here but in a nutshell it was because it didn’t feel right for me.Β  Saying if I liked, loved or […]

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