Monday, September 10

Obsession Confession: Rating System

It isn't every day I read a five star book. In fact I have only given out 16 five star ratings this year. When I do read a five star book I often suffer afterwards. I can't seem to detach myself fully from the fictional world I just left. In many ways I don't want to. If it were possible I would likely want to remain in that five star book. In the end I can neither stay in that book nor ignore the other books clamoring for my attention. So here is part of the rub, I am afraid that my expectations for the next book I pick up will be higher. Won't I automatically compare it to the amazing book I previously read? Will it then get a worse rating than it deserves? 

Which led me to wonder are ratings really effective and unbiased?

Here on Hope, Love, and Happy Endings I have adopted Goodreads rating system.

Five Stars - It was amazing
Four Stars - Really liked it
Three Stars - Liked it
Two Stars - It was okay
One Star - Didn't like it

(You might be looking over at the side bar and thinking something like, "Actually it looks like ducks and ducky sayings." Okay so yes instead of It was amazing it says something about ducks in a row. That is more my hubby than me. He really likes those ducks.)

It seems to cover my needs fairly well. Also, since I use the same rating system there is no miscommunication in the transfer to Goodreads from the blog. While I have changed my rating system pictures a few times I have never changed the underlying meaning. Not that I haven't thought about it. There are so many clever or funny rating systems I have seen. Sadly when I tried to remember where these all were my mind was not being cooperative. *sigh* The one that did come to mind is on Read Now Sleep Later. She rates her books bases on their ability to keep her awake all night. I really love that. Some blogs have pictures that fit their likes or personality. Those that come to mind are [Fikt]shun and Stories and Sweets. Come to think of it I don't really care for my rating system pictures. I have yet to find just the thing that suits me best. Maybe it will come to me soon . . . because ducks so aren't me.

Possible Ideas to Base a Rating System on:
Adrenaline rush
Gasp or yawn
Refreshing as compared to old hat
My grip on the book(Kung Fu or Slipped from my Fingers)

I have found a problem with my rating system. One that is getting harder and harder to ignore. Sometimes I come across a book that doesn't fit into any of the five categories. It tends to straddle the divide between them. This is an irritation of mine since I am never sure which way to lean. It has to be one or the other since Goodreads doesn't do halves. Do I give it a higher rating or a lower either way isn't the right impression to give off.

I have seen a variety of rating systems as I have browsed other book blogs. Most are very nearly the same but there are a few that are almost unique.

Authors and Ratings:
I even noticed an author complaining about three star ratings. She felt they meant her book was a failure, when she compared it to grading. I thought that was a bit unfair. Sure I wish every book was a five but could I even handle that sort of sustained awesomeness? I would probably get desensitized and authors would have to work even harder to impress me. Regardless I feel when I mark something a three I am not say a C grade but that I Liked It. That sounds like a good rating to me. I can see where the author is coming from. If I wrote a book I would be thinking it was the best book out there. That is couldn't possibly be any less than a five star rating. How could people not love it? No one likes to put their heart and soul into something and have it trampled.

The Funk that Stunk:
Sometimes I get into this funk and nothing seems to please me. During such spans of time it doesn't seem like I am giving fair ratings. I tend to go into each book carrying ill thoughts from the last and it disturbs the flavor of the new book. I tend to hand out low ratings to several books in a row. All those disappointing reads get me down and depressed. Maybe there aren't any more great reads out there. Then I start to wonder if I were to take a previously five star book and read it during this stretch would it still get the same rating? Is it the books that are responsible or me? Mood really does affect my ratings.

Book Innocence: 
There is no way for me to be a truly blank slate for each book. I have been shaped and changed by each book read before whether for good or ill. With each book added to my mental read list it may get harder and harder to please me. After all I have read the same basic scenarios many times now.
Falling in Love
Love Triangles
Near Death Escapes

Even themes have been repeated in my mental read pile.

I will never be as open to a book as I was the first time each of these scenarios and themes crossed my path. It is sad since there is nothing quite as exhilarating and exhausting as the first time. That is how I fell in love with reading. I also feel bad for those books trying to make their mark in a previously over published theme. I might just be daring them to entertain me but expecting they might not be able to.

The Ending that Carried it Off:
My ratings are also skewed toward my response to the ending. It is the last thing I read and much like the final of a class carries off much of the grade. I figure they can mess with my mind as much as they want during the book. But when it comes to the ending it has to be just right.

So if ratings are subject to moods and are extremely unfair, why bother?

Some days I am not sure, but I keep it up to give myself and others some small sense of reference.

How do you feel about rating systems?