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Life, Law & Libros

Discussion: Reevaluating Book Ratings

8 comments
Normally, I know where a book falls on my 1-5 star scale as soon as I finish. But lately I've run across a couple of books that I couldn't automatically place, which had me comparing them to other books I've rated in the past...which had me second-guessing all my past ratings. Did I really like those two 3-stars equally, or should one of them have been a 4-star, or a 2?

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Perhaps the problem is that I use such a subjective system (disliked, liked, really liked, etc.) that can be influenced by any number of outside factors, not the least of which is my mood at the time of reading. But on the other hand, I'm not Kirkus or the School Library Journal or anything. I don't feel obligated to rate books based on their "writing merits." (That was homework not too long ago.) I rate books so I can remember which ones I enjoyed.

Should I go back and try to re-rate everything according to one standardized, algorithm-based scale? I think, for me, no matter how much I consider it, there's no way I'm going through my whole reading list and re-rating everything. One, I'm way too lazy. And two, no matter how well I remember past reads, I really can't give them a fair eval without rereading the whole book. (Also not happening.)

Personal rating scales and preferences vary so much. I guess this is why I tend to bypass the star rating and skip to the review content on other blogs. I should probably do the same for my own: not worry about how many stars I give a book and just focus on writing thoughtful reviews. And maybe add Goodreads shelves that are more indicative of how much I enjoyed a book, like: "Still thinking about it a fortnight later" or "randomly pick up to reread a chapter."

What are your thoughts? To re-rate or not? Do the stars help or hinder?

8 comments :

  1. I have similar feelings about past books, but I have a strict policy that my rating is based on how much I liked actually reading the book, not how much it stuck with me, etc, since it is just too hard. I like seeing someone's rating since it gives me a general idea of what they thought and then I can keep that in mind when jumping into the details ya know? But I definitely always read the details if I'm interesting ;-). I also figure that the books that stick with me are more likely to get onto lists that I make, etc, so they'll get their spotlight that they deserve over the long term.

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    1. Those are all great points. There are some days I just want to throw the stars out entirely, but you're right. Having a general idea at a quick glance is useful. :)

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  2. I went through something similar to this not too long ago. I evaluated how I rate and how others rate as well. I feel that the longer I blog the more critical I become so maybe I'm getting a better feel for how to show how I felt via star ratings. I did learn from others that most people use the words from the review more than the rating but it is a jumping off point. I know exactly what you mean though...I look back at my early ratings and there is no way I'd rate them the same now. For now I'm keeping them as is though.

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    1. Blogging making you more critical? Yeah, I can see that happening. And jumping off points are definitely good, even if we do cringe looking at them later on. :)

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  3. Do you give a book a star rating before you write your review? Like, do you say to yourself, "This is a 3-star book" and then write the review? I used to do that, but lately I've discovered that writing the review first actually helps me decide what I want to rate it; what is an appropriate amount of "strawberries" for it (since I do strawberries and not stars ;) I totally agree - mood has a lot to do with how you rate a book. So clearly depending on your mood, if you think back on a book, your thoughts on it may not match what you rated it. And Kristen, you're so right - blogging has totally made me more critical.

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    1. With most books, I know as soon as I finish the last page and close the cover. Lately, not so much. (Possibly because I've been finishing more books around midnight and thinking about sleep.) I still usually know the star rating first, but for a few I jot down review notes and then rate. I wish I could say it was blogging's fault I'm critical, but I'm pretty sure the critic came before the blog. ;)

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    2. I take copious notes when I'm reading - and the worse the book, the more notes I have, I've noticed. ;) I generally am able to judge what the final rating will be about 50-100 pages into a book, too (depending on the book). Don't know what it was about the last few books I've read, though; I just haven't really been able to decide. It took blogging to really get my critical side out when it comes to books. :) Exercising it on a regular basis type thing. Except now I can't just read a book without analyzing it. Grrr. ;)

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    3. Haha! I haven't been able to read a book without analyzing it since...maybe 6th grade? Maybe it's the winter doldrums preventing us from rating easily. All that snow.

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