Star Ratings

Star RatingGiving a book a star rating is tricky business. All commenters on sites like Amazon or Goodreads do it, but not many book bloggers. It is like looking at a resort on Tripadvisor, you are always going to find some who champion the place and others who would never recommend it. A book may get a high rating from me but you might be lukewarm about it. Of course reading tastes differ. Even if I read the same book in another time in my life, I might rate it differently.

The reason I do give a rating is because it requires me to give some indication of the quality of the writing and the quality of the reading experience.  Though mostly gut reaction, I do look at things like writing style, readability, overarching themes, what I learned, level of suspense, conflict, redemption, point of view, emotional impact, character development, etc. It remains an interesting exercise because no book has everything for everyone, but it does help me to identify the really good ones and forces me to form an overall opinion.What do Star Ratings Mean?

Most importantly, it allows you to click on the Five Star and Four Star lists from the “Genre Categories” menu in the right sidebar of this blog,  for quick lists of the very Best Books I’ve read. I hope this is helpful to you!

2 responses to “Star Ratings

  1. Thanks for this post, Joanne. I like your rating system. In general, I’ve been ‘pondering” for quite some time this social media phenomena of ‘rating’ anything from a book, a teacher, a hotel or a kid’s toy.

    How do these ratings it compare to word-of-mouth promotion or gossip?

    In a book club I belong to, we routinely ‘rate’ the book’s value on a scale of 1 to 10. However, I recently read an opinion piece that compared book club discussion to Bible study groups: people share their opinions w/o having academic background, in literary criticism or theology resp, to validate those opinions.

    Here another comparison: How do these star ratings compare to bestseller lists. When a book becomes an International Bestseller is it a good book?

    Some questions: Are book ratings in newspapers, on websites or blogs helpful?

    How do they compare to book reviews which can be negative, neutral, or positive without assigning a numerical value?

    Where did this need come from to condense careful thoughts into what seems to be an obsession with rating-at-glance?

    Isn’t it kind of ironic that we are now, in effect, grading anything from a 500-page novel to a comic book while the North American educational system seems to discourage strict grading practices, and, almost without exception, protects students’ privacy when it comes to sharing those grades?

    You can follow me at http://nandyheulecommunications.wordpress.com

    • Five star to you for a thoughtful comment Nandy! 🙂 These are good questions. I always say every grade or rating has a story behind it, so an anecdotal explanation is always helpful in determining how a more objective valuation is assigned. Great literary works and award winning novels may be very unreadable, though of high literary standard and vice versa. At best a rating is an objective tool in a subjective situation…never perfect, but still useful at times.

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