Monday, 22 November 2010
I don't agree with rating books by stars. Do you?
For instance, just say you read a book that you couldn't really get into. There was just something about the pace/plot/subject matter, that didn't hook you has you had hoped it would. But you really liked the way the author wrote, and the imagery, and the descriptions, and the quiet moments and detail the author used to develop the characters. Those things really drew you in. And when you reached these moments in the story, you bathed in them, and thought - "Wow. I want more of this." But then 'the story' came back into play, and again, you kinda lost interest, but kept reading because there was just something magical about the writing in some parts. What do you do? How do you rate such a thing?
The first thoughts that go through my mind, is two stars for story, three stars for description, four stars for character development. How to you lump all of that into ONE star???
So. I HATE USING STARS TO RATE BOOKS. And that's it.
What would you do in this situatuon?
“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp
“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin
“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney
“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch
“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland
“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris
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I do use a 'rating' when I review a book, but I've set up my own with their own definitions. I definitely concentrate on the positive, but I do give an honest review.ReplyDelete
u have a point there besides since there is no rating scale u could get one star bcos someone wants ur book to be sold for $1. Some people also dont read reviews and just pass on a book if it has low stars. damn the internet (okay I take that back i love you internet, don't ever leave me)ReplyDelete
I use ratings for my book reviews (although not stars--decimals instead). I just try to rate it based on how much I enjoyed it; that can be hard to pinpoint sometimes, but since I find readers of reviews often look to the rating over other parts of the review, it helps to have one.ReplyDelete
I agree, it is a sort of bad way to summarize someone's work. But I think it does help those who need a quick answer on a product's worth. I think most people are going to go on to read the review anyway (unless it's only one star, then they probably won't, ha!).ReplyDelete
I don't use star ratings because I always think of grades - 3 stars is a C, and in my eyes, that's not good!ReplyDelete
I don't use ratings for my reviews. I feel like a good, thoughtful review is a much more holistic way of looking at the many parts that can go right (or wrong) in a book.ReplyDelete
I do give stars on librarything and the random house site when I upload my reviews. I notice that a lot of them are in the 4-5 star range, with a few in the 3-star range. I think that this is probably not the most accurate way of judging a book because all books are not going to be that good!
I don't really mind the stars--I just keep in mind that all reviews are subjective. The only way for me to know if I'll like a book is to read it myself.ReplyDelete
When I unofficially review a book for friends, I never give it an arbitrary star rating--I just say what I liked (or didn't), and leave them to make their own judgment.
Hmm. The stars do seem pretty arbitrary. Personally I don't ever say anything bad about any published novel because as a writer I consider than bad karma. But I do have some books on goodreads that I've rated with 4 stars instead of 5.ReplyDelete
It is impossible to get your entire opinion across in just a out of 5 scale. I agree.
I think that book ratings are an inescapable part of "review jargon." While I don't rate books, either--and hated giving my students grades in school (LOL!)--I sometimes get asked at the end of a review: "What rating would you give this out of ten?" And then I end up coming up with a number anyway. =P
But I'll be the first to admit that my ratings can't be broken down into rubrics. No "one star for character, one star for plot, etc" stuff. If it gets an 8.5, that's because it feels like an 8.5. LOL!
I don't use stars, either. I find the 5 star system too narrow. And the whole thing is way too subjective. Someone's three star isn't going to mean the same as my three star.ReplyDelete
I share your hesitation about their usefulness, which is why I almost always write comments with stars when I post reviews on Goodreads. I always find that I wish there were half-stars (sometimes there are, but not on Goodreads), because I'm like, it's definitely not a 4, but is it really a 3? Sheesh. Fun/interesting post.ReplyDelete
When I rate on goodreads, I follow what their stars actually say. 3 stars means "i liked it" as where four means "i really liked it." So I go by that.ReplyDelete
I guess I'm one of the few who will write a so-called bad review for the public to read. I'm not a flamer or a hater, but I know that I read reviews when I'm venturing into an unknown book, and I want to know if the time I'm going to spend is going to be worth my while. If I found something particularly unreadable, then I'll list those reasons, and yes--generally layer in some positive stuff too.
I dunno. I guess I value honesty above karma?
I don't use ratings with my reviews for some of the reasons you mention. There are too many things about a book to like or dislike to give it a number of stars are not for me. Some people can, and that's great. I had rather just tell what I liked about the book and let the next reader rate it for themselves.ReplyDelete
Thoughts in Progress
It is a harsh way to judge a piece of work. But typically speaking the rating system is for the readers, not the writers. And while some like to take the time to read reviews, many are lazy 7 just want to get to the good stuff. So they check for stars.ReplyDelete
And must you fill my head with stories about how you received a request for a full two days before Christmas? That's mean, Jess. Just mean. :p
hi miss jessica! mostly i could know not every ones gonna feel just like me on a book so im not a rater. i just say if for me i like it or didnt like it. if i gotta do a review im gonna say lots more on what i liked or didnt like. my stars are people like you! :)ReplyDelete
...hugs from lenny
agree 1,000 percent! I try to do ratings as much as possible. I like it though when they help w/the stars... like adding that "really liked it" and "liked it" w/the stars. That helps. Only slightly...ReplyDelete
But I'm sure you're a 5-star! :o) <3
Part of me wants to get rid of the rating system for my book reviews (and was hesitant to use it in the first place), for the very reasons you've outlined above.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, the other part of me wants to keep it because I don't use stars for my ratings; I use flaming wheels. There's no way I can win.
By the way, I give this post 5 fiery wheels (out of 5).
I don't give stars, but rather give an honest written review.ReplyDelete
Stars Suck. I'm with you.ReplyDelete
I so agree. Honestly, I hate rating books period. It's why I'm not in good reads. Because it makes me start to compare books against each other (like, oh, I gave THIS one five stars, so maybe this one I liked a little less deserves less than that) and I just don't think you can really compare books.ReplyDelete
Plus starts don't tell me why I should or shouldn't like the book, so they don't help me at all. I'm all for getting rid of them. But I have a feeling they aren't going away. Le sigh.
I agree with you. The stars can't quite differentiate between the good parts and bad. I don't like them.ReplyDelete
Oh yeah, the stars suck. I tend to go with my overall impression when I'm giving a rating. I'm very conscious on sites like Amazon, though, that stars can really affect sales. One two-star review can have a very negative effect, even if there are 10 five-star reviews. It's rubbish, but that's the way it is!ReplyDelete
Funny. I don't mind the stars at all. I mean SURE, it's subjective. But I guess I think everyone is entitled to my subjective opinion *shifty*ReplyDelete
I am on the generous side sort of... I mean... if I enjoyed a book, it gets a 4 (though it has to be a home run to get a 5). I give a 3 if I can seen what there IS to like but it wasn't really my thing, and i don't give a 2 or a 1 unless it is actively BAD (Twilight)
It's all so subjective. If I'm all over the place like your example, I'll usually "average" them. But I don't use stars unless I have to. :-)ReplyDelete
It can be rather harsh when you just dis a book because it wasn't your cup of tea. I try to be very fair when using the star rating system on Goodreads or such. I haven't done any book reviews so I don't get to far into the stars. I just let the work speak for itself.ReplyDelete
Honestly, If I didn't like a book enough to at least give it three stars, I won't review it. I haven't done a lot of written reviews due to time constrainst but I do think they're really the best way to go.ReplyDelete
I suppose it would be better if the stars were defined better and books had multiple ratings. For example: Characters, plot, writing, etc.ReplyDelete
Agreed - there's just not enough information provided with the star system. When reading others' reviews, I glance at the stars and then read what they they have to say.ReplyDelete
I don't mind star ratings for books, what I dislike is when they aggregate and average those ratings out. There isn't a standard criteria given to judge the book by and even if there is people don't adhere to it. The reviews should be read and then the reader can be given the star, otherwise it's just a shortcut that doesn't mean much.ReplyDelete
I've never given any of the books I review a star rating. To my mind even a 5-star rating is fairly meaningless unless you tell me why you think it deserves 5 stars.ReplyDelete
When I started out I used a ratings sytem, but I very quickly abolished it when I realised that a ratings system makes something subjective. How can I create a balanced review of something when I end my review with an official stamp that depicts my assumption of its worth?ReplyDelete
I usually settle instead for "would I recommend it, and to whom?" That works a lot better for me.
As a consumer, I rely on the star system to put me in the ball-park and then I drill down to the more specific comments to get a better feel for what I'm in for. There has to be some sort of quick glance rating system in-play or else the amount of detail in the review can be overwhelming and put people off.ReplyDelete
Thanks for all your comments! I find it really interesting that no one actually answered my question at the end of the post ... hmmm ... I wonder why ... ???ReplyDelete
Maybe we all thought we did? =P
*goes back to read first comment*
Okay, I see that I didn't.
But something that came to mind when I was writing it was another blogger's rating system. I don't remember her blog's name, but I recall her graphics of vials with colourful potions. There is a "modicum of mediocrity" and an "elixir of excellence" (I think!) and so on. So everything gets "lumped" anyway.
Um, does that help? If your question is about "lumping," that's what I understand you to mean. =)
I always feel bad when I'm rating something so I almost never give something below 3. It would have to be truly terrible, unreadable, worst thing I've ever subjected myself to to get lower than 3. Not the best solution. Maybe I should start writing reviews instead...ReplyDelete
I have a hard time rating anything. I like a book / album / cheesecake / whatever, and I give it 4 / 5 stars. But then along comes another one and I like it too...but do I like it as much as the first one? It becomes more of a comparison to all my other influences than it is a rating of the item itself.ReplyDelete
And that's before I even consider how OTHER people perceive a 4 star rating vs. a 5 star. ACK. I'm such a mess.