I’ve been thinking about the issue of rating books for a while. In general, I only rate books through goodreads, because I think their system is fairly easy to understand. It’s a purely subjective assessment–did you like the book or not? If so, how much? The number of stars correspond to your opinion. Easy enough, right? And since I keep track of my books through their website, it makes sense to rate them there, too. I mainly do it for myself, to keep track of my reading experience, more than to recommend (or not) a book to someone else.
However, I’ve noticed that a lot of book bloggers use their own personal rating system and include this with book reviews. I’ve decided not to do that for a number of reasons. For one thing, I don’t find it particularly helpful. So you loved a book? Great, but that doesn’t mean I will love it, too. As someone who reads book reviews, I’m much more interested in why someone did or didn’t love a book–I prefer qualitative to quantitative feedback. I mean, that’s where real discussion begins, isn’t it? And it’s the discussion that someone’s experience of a book can provoke that interests me more than a one-off rating.
Also, I’m just not comfortable with people putting their own interpretation on the rating I assign to a book. I mean, if it’s three stars, does that make it bad? I once wrote in a review that I had rated a book as ‘3 stars’ on goodreads, and a commenter actually said that although she had been interested in reading the book before, she wasn’t sure she still wanted to, because three stars is not a good rating. Really? According to goodreads, it means I liked the book. I don’t want my personal opinions to influence other people in that way, particularly when it’s not what I intended.
I realize this is a bit of a rant, but I hate to think of an arbitrary number of stars or other items turning off a reader to a book. Everyone’s experience of a book is different, which is what makes reading such a meaningful, personal activity. And while I love discussion and debate, I certainly don’t think that my opinion should be taken as gospel.
So, in future, while I’ll be more than happy to tell you what I thought of a book, I’m not going to “rate” it here on my blog.