Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How do you rate the ratings?


You may notice or have heard me say that we don’t rate books here with a number or star count or grade or any other method. This is because I think people read too much into ratings. We’ll see a low or even so-so rating and say, “Eh, not worth my time,” and never give the book a chance [for my previous rant about this, please read a post from about 6 days ago]. BUT, tonight at my book club, another member and I were urging everyone to get onto Goodreads, and we mentioned its star rating system. It turned into a fun discussion on how you’d classify your reads with a star rating of 1-5. Everyone has their own standards and criteria for each level, so I thought it’d be fun to find out some of yours.

These are mine.

★ – I detested this and wanted to throw it across the room frequently. I will specifically recommend people not read it.
★★ – Didn’t like it, but maybe someone else will. Surely someone else will.
★★★ – I liked it, but I’m sure not I can give you a reason why. Or rather, I can give you a reason, but it may not be enough of a reason for you to pick it up. Or, it wasn’t wasting my time, but it’s not going to really stick with me. Or, it was alright, and I see it has literary merit. Or, I like it just enough to avoid saying I don’t like it.
★★★★ – This was a great read, and I’ll probably recommend it. Usually, recommendations in my verbal world would have to earn at least a 4 on my Goodreads rating scale.
★★★★★ – Omg omg, love love love. BUT, unlike 4-stars, 5-stars has a personal quality to it. Either it really touched me in some way, I can really relate to it, or it’s a childhood favorite. Oftentimes, other people won’t love my 5-stars as much as I love them, because I have some specific reason for loving them.

I’d say most of the books I read earn 3 or 4 stars. How do ratings work for you?


Salvatore said…

If I used the rating system:

1: Probably couldn't finish it, it was that much of an abomination. Friendships end over books recommended from this level.

2: The work was less than engaging, but I most likely was able to complete it. Provides less than ample fodder for discussion. This is probably for books I'd be embarassed to carry around on the subway.

3: A decent work all in all. Not spectacular, but not meritless either. What fits here is a light read or a somewhat poorly written literary novel. I'd be willing to lend these books out.

4: The author has done something quite intelligent and astounding that makes his/her work worthy of a read and a re-read. Something to have proudly sit atop your bookshelves. I'd second guess lending any of these books out, even to trusted friends.

5: Genius. One to be saved from a booksale or bookburning pile. One worthy to find a first edition of and pay more than a week's salary to get it. One that you go back to yearly because of language and the rhythm of the work. I don't let these books out of my sight, and they travel with me everywhere.

I guess it's more of an academic/cerebral relationship to books. Most books I'd say end up being at 3. Luckily I haven't read too many 1s in recent memory.

Kari said…

Hahaha, perfect description of 2 stars—embarrassed to be seen with it on the subway.

farmlanebooks said…

My rating system is similar to the one you mention, but I reserve 1 star for books I can't finish.

I love the thought of Salvatore carrying a pile of 5 star books everywhere!

softdrink said…

I love your 3 star explanation. I've never tried to come up with a reating system, but it might look something like:

1 star: Ewwwww. It totally sucked.
2 stars: Not worth the bother.
3 stars: Good, but not great.
4 stars: Loved it, but it needs a little somethin' somethin' to make it extra special.
5 stars: Best. Book. Ever. Until the next 5 star read comes along.

nat @book, line, and sinker said…

lol. i'm guilty of removing certain book covers when reading in public (sTori Telling by tori spelling comes readily to mind…).

as for my ratings…basic and an attempt at diplomacy:

5 Bookmarks= In a word, sublime.

4 Bookmarks= Let dinner burn; read this now.

3 Bookmarks= Add this to your TBR pile.

2 Bookmarks= Check it out from the library.

1 Bookmark = Not my cup of cocoa.

Kari said…

Haha, Nat, just order delivery.

Meg said…

Your explanations completely rang true for me, too! I do use a rating system while blogging — almost like a shorthand for myself and readers, I guess. I do agree that we often place too much stock in these "scores," though, and sometimes feel like I should remove them. But I probably won't.

Your description for 5-star reads perfectly mirrors my own philosophy: I love love LOVED this book but for a personal, almost unquantifiable reason; other people may read and love it, too, but not for the same reasons as me. It's a book that will stick with me and, in some cases, actually changes me!

bookwanderer said…

Haha, I LOVED your rating descriptions! I actually wrote mine using Facebook as a guideline. One star books, for example, are books whose friend requests I would flat out deny; two star books are ones whose friend requests I'd let languish forever in the purgatory that is my inbox; etc, etc. I just might have a little too much time on my hands.