WHY I RATE BOOKS HIGH…AND WRITE A LOT OF GOOD REVIEWS
I give a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings on books. It really bothers some people, but I’m not sure I understand why. Several people have complained in my general direction recently about readers rating books too high, and it always shocks me.
“What?” I ask. “How is it possible to rate books too high?”
5 Stars on Goodreads only = It was amazing!
Amazing is what I say when my nephew colors me the ugliest picture ever.
Amazing is the queso at my local Mexican restaurant, after two margaritas.
Amazing is how I spent two whole days cutting 1,000 words from my latest manuscript, then spent an hour writing a scene that added 1,003 words back.
If I were in charge of Goodreads, there would be more stars, because amazing barely does some novels justice.
I have compiled a list of reasons why I rate books high, but honestly people, it boils down to that gut impulse feeling I get when I close the book. Whatever I feel in my heart, at that exact moment, is the book’s rating.
Period. End of story.
Because what matters to me the most is the journey. It’s not about how I feel a month and six books later and definitely not how I feel after overanalyzing (Yes, I overthink) the story, the writing, or the reviews others have posted. I stick with my gut, since I have a few commitment issues. I often crush hard and then doubt myself, but that’s silly. I can adore a wide number and variety of novels for many reasons, and my love for one novel doesn’t have to diminish or impact my love of another.
So without further ado, here’s why I rate books high:
- Because I choose wisely in the first place. Usually. This isn’t to say I’ve never read a book I didn’t like. It happens, especially when I’m reading for a committee, but when I choose for myself, I tend to pick novels with good potential, good authors, interesting reviews, and/or a great premise. It’s not always a win, but there’s so much great literature out there these days. It’s easier and easier to find books I love or that fascinate me, and if something doesn’t grab me, I quickly toss it aside and pick again. Why waste time? It also helps that I have 34 years of experience picking out novels, and considering most people retire from a job after 30 years, this should make me an expert. On myself.
- Because I love different types of stories and don’t mind a few flaws. I can see the beauty in a story without liking every single thing about it. For me, it’s a lot like loving people. The imperfections are fascinating and sometimes charming. If I rated people as harshly as books get rated, the world would be one hell of an ugly place. Just because a story has a few flaws, doesn’t go my way, or isn’t my perfect style, that doesn’t mean I can’t see the beauty in it, appreciate what’s unique about it, learn something from it, and/or grow with it. I can hate a moment or hate a scene and still love a novel, because I don’t need every moment or every word to be perfect. I just need enough of them to be perfect or so profound that it touches something deep inside of me.
- Because when I hate a book, I don’t typically feel a need to criticize it online: So I usually don’t review it (assuming I even bother finishing it). I save reviews for books I like and love, because I figure those authors deserve my support. Also, if I adore a novel, I want to tell the whole world, so all of them will read it and discuss it with me. It’s fun to write good book reviews and share the love, but I don’t feel any joy in trashing someone else’s life work or creation. Maybe I do hate their novel, but does that make them wrong for having written it? I guess I don’t feel any need to put others down. I do occasionally explain how a book doesn’t connect with me, but I try to point out what might be good about it or who might connect with it instead. . . #AlwaysTheLibrarian
- HERE’S WHY: Reading is HIGHLY subjective. I don’t like all novels. Sometimes they are boring, frustrating, poorly written, atrociously edited, underwhelming, uninspired, etc. Most of those previous opinions are subjective statements though. Not facts. Just because I don’t like something, that doesn’t mean someone else won’t. I can’t bring myself to purposefully dissuade people from reading a book. It feels silly to me and a bit spiteful . All people are different, as are all books. I would guess that every book I hate is loved by someone, and I’m good with that. More power to them. That’s the beauty of diversity.
AND THE SLIGHTLY HYPOCRITICAL TWIST:
While I don’t typically write poor book reviews, I’ll glance at some of them if I’m choosing a novel that’s not rated quite as high as others. I make sure to skim the good reviews as well, but I take all reviews with a grain of salt and am careful not to read anything that might be spoilery. If some people don’t like the writing style or the love triangle or a plot twist or who a character is or what a character does, then whatever. *shrugs*
However, when a huge handful of people say a novel is poorly edited, I completely balk. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves, and it brings us full circle to reason #1.
Now, please don’t confuse the tone of this informational blog post. It’s not meant to be persuasive. I understand that like reading, writing book reviews is very subjective. I’m also not suggesting people can’t or shouldn’t write bad book reviews. Everyone has to do what they feel is right and best when it comes to representing themselves. If it’s their honest opinion, then so be it. I’m going to do my thing, and they should do theirs.
For those who are still annoyed with my typically 4 and 5 star ratings though, I have one remaining question:
Seriously? What’s it to you?
I am entitled to an honest, subjective opinion (same as you), and just because I don’t hate on the book you hate on, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong, lying, exaggerating or stupid. I prefer my reading mug to be half full (not half empty), and I enjoy supporting the writing community with positive shout outs when I love their novels. It’s the least I can do in return for the gifts they gave me.