Bibliobanter: I’m tough to please.

Posted 27 May, 2011 by Amanda / 5 Comments

As much as I love books, I am not given to extremes.  I took this into consideration when I crafted by rating system, as seen below (and on my Rating System page):

A++ A+ A A-/B+ B B-/C+ C C-/D+ D D- F
5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 .5 0

(I know it’s probably a little on the complicated side, but that’s just what I do)

When I consider a book for a rating, I think in terms of stars rather than grades (because apparently it’s easier for me to give higher grades than it is to give a higher star rating, which is probably proof of a trend toward grade inflation, I suppose, but that is a story for another day), then translate my star rating into a letter grade.  My average rating on Goodreads after 109 books is 3.43.  I have four books (or, a little less than 4% of all the books I’ve read in the last two some years) marked as 5 stars: The Fountainhead, HP #7, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and Catch-22.  They comprise an interesting cast of characters because each book is so different from the others.  But each book had a strong impact on me in some way (and I guarantee you it was in a different way for each one) that required a 5 star rating.  I don’t go around giving 5 stars lightly, and that’s why I reserved A++ for the books that really rock my world.  Even though A++ is a purely fictional grade, I find it to be the most appropriate reflection of my rating.  If something is that amazing, it deserves a fantastical rating, something no other book could ever receive.

To date, I have given no book an A+ rating on this blog.  Granted, I’ve only tracked books I have read over the past two months, but that has totaled over 30 books.  My lack of A+ grades isn’t because I haven’t read any awesome books (far from it), but no book has quite moved me to that extent.  I am looking for a book that tears me apart emotionally, that haunts me, that leaves me saddened when it’s all over, or that worms its way into my thoughts and burrows in to permanently stay.  It takes a special kind of book to do that, and that’s why anything A and above is rare.  I am of the opinion that in order to give the books that rock my world the kind of rating they deserve, I have to be honest that many books, while very enjoyable, don’t affect me the way the special ones do.

The primary reason I wanted to talk about my ratings is that so anyone reading my reviews can do so with the knowledge that a B grade, for example, is still a very good book that by others’ standards would rate 4 or 5 (out of 5) stars.  But I am tough to please, and I refrain from giving books such high ratings.  That’s just me.

How do you rate books?

Filed under: Bibliobanter,

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5 Responses to “Bibliobanter: I’m tough to please.”

  1. Felicia

    Ratings are hard for me–mostly because I think every book is unique to the reader. I don’t give a lot of 5’s but I have several 100’s of books ranked between 4.0 and 4.75 for a variety of reasons. If a book truly entertains me in a LOL way it gets a high rating, if the story or characters move me high rating, if the story rocks then high rating. If all those things come together then it gets a 5. The funny thing is I truly enjoy all the books that I rank 3 or above just on different levels!

    Ratings are the hardest part of reviews for me :)

    • I always worry that people will look at a 3 rating and think I didn’t enjoy the book – but a 3 is still a good rating for me. And I agree that ratings are going to differ because everyone experiences the same book differently. That’s human nature, I suppose. What I realized, though, is what if your rating is affected not by the book itself, but by the book you read previously? Reading a really bad book might make the next one seem extremely good or the other way around… I wonder if/how you can train yourself to avoid that.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      A lot of times when I see a five star rating I have to wonder how easy it is for that person to give a five. For me, that would change my perception of their rating system. Not necessarily in a bad way, but more so that I would know a five by their standard may not rate as high by my standard.

  2. I don’t rate books on my blog because I have such a difficult time with the whole star system. I rate on Goodreads & Amazon because I have to and sometimes find myself rating up so people will know I enjoyed the book. It must be the teacher in me, but like you, I am hard to please and hate that people will think a “B” is a bad grade. On the blog, I just discuss what I did and didn’t like about the book, who I think would like the book, and leave it at that.