Hello, bookworms! Here is another Booktalk Post for you.
First and foremost, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your responses and comments! I never thought there would be this many positive responses and thought-provoking, insightful comments when I started this series. I am literally blown away and glad you enjoy reading my humble two cents worth! Thanks so much to you all, you are all amazing!!
Getting back to the subject, today’s topic is a bit tough and actually is a bane of my existence as a fledgling book blogger – ‘ratings and book reviewing.’
Now, this is something that has kept bugging me since I started this book blog a year and a half ago. My reviews were seriously cringe-worthy back then because I knew nothing about writing book reviews, and I actually deleted most of my earlier posts. I am still struggling to best describe/explain my thoughts on books with my own words, but I’ve learned to accept my own ‘voice’ and faults as time went by.
That said though, ‘rating’ has always been tough because I always have to reflect myself and ask myself these questions:
- Am I doing a book justice?
- Am I objective enough and being fair to the book?
- Have I earned enough insight to squarely review a book?
- Don’t I lack experience as a book blogger?
- Do my insight and instinct make my eligible for reviewing books?
These questions always run through the back of my mind whenever I write book reviews. In particular, #2, #3, and #5 sometime stall me upon expressing my thoughts.
Intellectually, I do know that I can write my honest feelings and thoughts on a book. I have NO REASON to feel intimidated upon expressing my feels and thoughts. It is OUR BRAINS, not anybody else’s that judge a book whether it’s for us or not. I can, and ought to hold my head high and be confident in stating my opinions.
Still, there exists an issue of ‘objectiveness/subjectiveness’ in reading.
For me, reading itself is pure entertainment and I tend to be pretty subjective while I’m reading. I do try to find and latch on good points in a book, I strive to be as objective as I possibly can, but then again, #5, the issue of my potential lack of insight/instinct creeps back in front of my head and makes me struggle to decide how many stars I should give to a book.
In addition to that, since I read books purely and solely for pleasure as I mentioned above, my emotions and impression towards characters in a book tend to affect me upon rating a book.
The perfect example is Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve been Gone that I reviewed about a month ago.
As you might know, that book has gleaned lots of lots of rave reviews and 5 star ratings. But for me, it didn’t work out. I just couldn’t forgive the one behavior that the protagonist, Emily, displayed in the latter part of the book. I took the behavior pretty personally and came to dislike the book so much. Despite all the positive thoughts that I had on Morgan Matson’s beautiful, descriptive solid writing, on-point pacing, and well-executed character developments, that single element threw everything out of the window, and completely ruined the book for me and made me grant only two stars for the book.
Nevertheless, I still wonder if I was being fair to the book. Yes, I did point out the things I loved and appreciated in the book, but didn’t I overreacted to Emily’s behavior and her character arc??? Didn’t I stubbornly stick to the negatives and turn a blind eye to all the positives in that book?
That I didn’t love a book doesn’t necessarily make it worthless to read.
Our liking/disliking isn’t necessarily directly translated into the worth of a book.
And this dilemma leads me to the next question: ratings and our emotions towards a book.
Honestly, I even wonder how reliable star rating itself can be.
Everybody judges a book based on their own perspectives and interpretations. We interprete a book as we please – no one reads a book exactly the same way as others do. From that standpoint, it’s hard to think, at least for me, that there is any ‘absolute fine line’ on book rating unless you are an accomplished book reviewer with thousands of book reviewing experience under your belt. Ultimately, it is your brain that judges a book at the end of the day; irrespective of the rating and accolades a book has gleaned over time, you cannot know whether a book is for you or not until you actually pick it up and read it.
Then, are star ratings pointless?
I know I’m being contradictory, but I don’t think that way, either.
When I debate whether to download a book, I go straight to Goodreads and look at the ratings. I would go for the book if the rating is like 2 to 3, but I probably wouldn’t take a chance on the book if the rating is 1 star. I do rely on star rating system to some extent.
But the problem is, what elements are reflected in the rating.
Did other readers rate the book based on their emotions – whether they liked the book or not?
Or, did they rate the book based on how good or bad it is, excluding the subjective, emotional elements?
Obviously, I haven’t the foggiest idea to these questions, but one thing I know is that I should give a book a try if my gut-instinct tells me I want to read it.
Once again, it is my brain that judges a book. Nobody else’s.
I do trust my trusty fellow bloggers’/bookworms’ recommendations and judgment, but I don’t want to ditch a book I think I want to read just because the rating sends out a red warning.
I think I should give as many books a chance regardless what the rating tells me.
How about you? What is your rating system like?
Do you rate a book based on your emotional experience? Or are you a type of reader who judges a book objectively?
Comment below and let me know!
Thank you so much for reading such a lengthy and kind of messy, ambivalent post.
I’ll talk to you all in my next post!