Friday, November 19, 2010

Lately, I feel like my ratings scale is inadequate. I think that I haven't yet successfully found the balance between objectivity and my own subjective enjoyment. I don't feel the need to be 100% objective - who can be, when part of the experience of reading is how the story plays on your emotions and connects to you as an individual - but I do think I have allowed my opinions to influence my ratings unevenly so far. I'm trying to think of the best ways to rate both the literary merit and my personal experience with the book.

My main concerns are:
* When a book is definitely a well executed piece of writing, but I just didn't like it. I think there are certainly books that could receive a 4 or 5 for writing, but a 2 for whether or not I would recommend someone to read it. If I hated the book, I'm not going to rate it a 4 or 5. But I don't want to discount the literary merit.
* When a book is "ice cream," basically just a book for entertainment. The book could be a 2 as far as literary merit, but higher for entertainment value. Still, it seems wrong to rate something like The Hunger Games over a masterpiece that just wasn't as "fun."

I think I am going to try rating different aspects of a book and then average them for an overall score. The areas I am considering are
  • Aesthetics/literary merit
  • Plot
  • Character
  • Personal response (although this is different for everyone and may have everything to do with someone's personal taste, I think it is still a valid aspect to consider when writing a review)
  • Accessibility/Readability - In this case I think it makes more sense to just make a qualitative statement.

What do you think? My goal in writing this blog is to have a place to write about what I read and a way to connect to others' ideas about books. Do you think this ratings system would be a more effective way to accomplish these goals? I think I am going to try it for the next few books I review and see if I feel like I've covered my bases more thoroughly. After reading so many scientific papers, I guess I feel the need to come up with an accurate scale for evaluation!


  1. My scale is completely subjective, and I make no apology for it - it's my impression. When I have not liked the book but still respect it, I give it a score based on my enjoyment but make lots of qualifying remarks in the main body of the review.

    And when I read other reviews, the scale doesn't influence me as much as the written text.

  2. I like the catagories because where a book my succeed in one area it may miss on something like characters or literary merit.

    I know I'm bored with my 5 star scale and since I'm picking out pretty tried and true book, I find I'm just giving out a lot of 4's. I think your way is subjective and specific.

  3. You know, I just use a 5-star scale on my books read page, so someone can get a general idea of how I felt about a book...I never really mention the ratings in my posts!

  4. I struggled with this about a year ago, especially with nonfiction, and so eventually I just gave up ratings altogether. I still give the books ratings on goodreads, a mix of personal and objective, but I don't put a lot of weight on them either.


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