So I was reading this blog post, and it got me thinking about starred reviews.
Okay, let’s get real. I’m an author. I think about starred reviews just about every time I think about my books in the hands of a reader. (Like the newly-released “One More Day” anthology, for instance…) I also think about them when I’ve finished reading a book borrowed from the library or won in a blog raffle and I’m pondering whether I feel like letting Goodreads know about it.
I’ve never much liked using the star rating system. I don’t fancy trying to pin a concrete number on something as “based on or determined by individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity or the intrinsic nature of something” as my opinions. For that matter, I’m not a huge fan of stating my opinions on the record unless they’re very strong and very positive – in other words, unless I’m geeking out about something. And while I’m happy to geek out about books as a species, it’s harder to get me worked up about most books individually.
Confession: I am a picky reader. Not in the non-eclectic sense, but in that it takes a heckuva lot to get 5 stars out of me. I use a 3 as, “Yeah, it was pretty good, I liked it well enough; might even read it again.” 4 generally means, “Really liked it. Really good. Quite possibly among my favorite books of all time, and I would totally recommend it.” To get 5 would mean that book really hit me somewhere deep inside, making me go around in a fog of love for it for days. Truthfully, I wouldn’t give some of my own stories a hard 5.0, not because I don’t love them and think they’re awesome (I wouldn’t try to publish them, otherwise), but because they just didn’t reach me in that specific way.
So for every 5-star review I’ve received for my first books on the market, I’m thrilled! For every 4, I’m quite pleased. A 3 wouldn’t break my heart. (Maybe mildly tick me off, depending on the reasons given for the rating, but hey, every reader’s looking for her own special strike to the sweet spot, right? Not even the best of us can win ‘em all.)
A book would have to be exceptionally lousy for me to give it a 2- or 1-star rating in public. Normally if I dislike a book that much, I’ll keep it to myself or within my circle of friends. Which isn’t to say I think it’s morally reprehensible to give a book a low mark where everyone can see; like I said, I’m just generally disinclined to air my private opinions. If I don’t have anything exceptionally nice to say, I may not bother to say anything at all.
That’s just how I roll. I think every reviewer should follower their own convictions on this, with a minimum decency requirement of not giving cutting reviews just to be a jerk. There’s plenty of room for honesty and civility to coexist.
How ‘bout you guys? How do you determine how to rate the books you read? Do you think another rating system would be more effective, or do you like the stars?