Friday 14 October 2011

Why I'm Giving up on Ratings...

I've been trying to tidy up the blog a bit lately, as it's feeling a little bit ignored, and as I was thinking about how I'd like it to be, I reached a decision. I'm giving up my rating system.

Lately I've kind of hated the idea of assigning an amount of stars to a book, unless I really really loved it. It feels like I'm trying to simplify the experience of reading it too much, and I'm finding it very restrictive. Therefore, I've decided to stop doing it, to scrap ratings altogether, and instead to have a page that contains a list and links to the reviews of just my favourite reads of the year. All the books I would without a doubt give five stars to on the old system will be on here. The others will remain in the archive of stuff I've read this year, but this way I hope I'll feel less pressured and more able to explore my thoughts in a less restrictive way.

I know a lot of people have been saying similiar things lately, and I'm trying to understand what it is that makes us want to give stuff a mark out of five/ten? I think maybe as a kid it helps you to sort things out in your head. To maybe clarify the degree to which you loved or hated something, and I know that as a kid reading, I usually did either adore something or despise it. There weren't a lot of grey areas for me, but as I've grown up (ish) that's changed. This year I've read books that I've been completely meh about except for maybe one scene that was just beautiful, and I've read books that I loved except for one particular character that I just couldn't stand. It's not black and white. For the most part, I can't say that I loved a book or hated it - I can say 'I loved x about it but disliked y'. It's a balance; often a discussion with myself when I'm writing a review, and a working through of all the things I felt and thought while reading the novel.

Anyway! That's why I'm giving up on ratings. Does anybody else have any thoughts on what makes us want to rate? Do you rate things, and if you do, do you find it helpful?


  1. Oh my gosh, I just got my surprise! Thank you so much, I've been wanting to read it for some time :)

    Oh I don't think I could give up ratings but I understand where your coming from and why you've made that choice :)

    Thank you again

  2. This is a huge part of why, when I decided to start a book blog, I also decided I wasn't going to do a rating system on my reviews. I feel like it's too restricting, and also too ambiguous - everyone might have a slightly different idea of what "2 stars" or "3 stars" means.

    Also, I feel like some people might glance at the rating, see something relatively low, and then not even bother to see what the book is about or why I did or didn't like it. I want to encourage people to read a book regardless of what my personal thoughts were, so they can find out for themselves!

  3. Mist- i'm so glad you liked it! :-)
    Colleen - yep that was part of it for me too, I know that i 've been guilty of skipping to a rating and not reading the whole review before, and years later have read the book I was put off and loved it. Also I think rating something can make people feel like that's how good the book is, fact, rather than it being your opinion of how good the book was.... Not sure if that makes sense :-/

  4. I let go of the ranking system after reading THE CRYING OF LOT 49 by Thomas Pynchon. It's absolutely impossible to categorize, let alone give it a score or a rating.

    I'm still scoring movies, because it's more of a formatted medium, thus easier to judge. Novels are waaaay to funky of a material to score, so I understand your decision very well.

  5. I think I stopped after my first fortnight of blogging. I don't like them because a rating can change depending on your mood, pain level, comfort, etc while a review is pretty much constant.

    Plus, there are books that I'd give five stars to that I liked in completely different ways.

  6. I don't rate books. My opinion changes far too often, and really there are so many elements that make up a book, it'd be pretty hard to assign it a single number. :-)