Thursday, March 8, 2012

How do you rate books?


While reviewing books, I have always had a problem with coming up with a good rating system, that I can follow irrespective of the genre, type, size and author of the book. I mostly just follow the Goodreads system.

It goes like this:
1 star: Didn't like it
2 stars: It was okay
3 stars: Liked it
4 stars: Really liked it
5 stars: It's amazing

I don't find it sufficient though. For one, it is very relative. I may give a 5-star rating to 11.22.63 by Stephen King as well as The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde; not that the books are in any way comparable or equal. I thought they were both amazing in their own ways; what I don't get is how to convey this "in its own way" through a rating!

Consider the example of a review copy; where I know it's the author's first attempt at getting published. I have certain expectations from the book and when the book fulfills those expectations almost entirely, I give it a 4-star rating; because I do really like it. That doesn't mean it is even close to being as good as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which I also really liked (and hence gave a 4-star rating!)

Secondly, I think five stars are too few to judge a book by. So I either use half-ratings i.e. 2 1/2, 3 1/2 etc. Or I use ten stars. Either way, the first problem persists.

I have seen people rate individual elements of a books separately. For instance, theme, plot and characters, each with its own separate rating. This is, I think, the most justifiable method; but I don't know how it exactly works. Which different elements would you rate separately and how do you decide the whole rating of the book?

I don't tend to put much weight in the rating a book holds. Until now I haven't come across a widely applicable rating system. Unless you have one. What do you base your ratings on?


8 comments:

Gopinath Sekar said...

well you could try giving your comment about the book since the rating standard is up to 5 stars that's what i do. I give them stars and say the good, the bad and the ugly in them. But that's just me :P

ankitthereviewer said...

Very Difficult ask to rate Novel by way of stars. I was thinking about it recently, but couldn't come with any good idea. So solution is too oblivious to me.

May be we have to give stars according to our reasoning i.e. bench marking. For example: I gave harry potter 5 star, so i will give 5 star to another novel only if it as good as Harry potter. Also,i gave Litigators 4 stars that means i have kept litigators as benchmark for other novels to come in range of 4 stars. If novel is better than Litigators but not as good as harry potter then i may give any number between 4 - 5 like 4.25 or 4.5.

Expectation and entertainment plays huge part in my Rating. In short they have high weightage in my Rating.

Not sure about final solution , but it some progress for me..

beautyisasleepingcat said...

For all the above mentioned reasons I never rate a book. I can't and I find that when I see blogs that do it, I often am influenced by the rating or even skip reading a review when the book has less than 4 stars. Once or twice I read it anyway and had to find out that another person's 3star book was one I truly loved.
I have seen someone use a very nice rating system once with different colors for different aspects. A book could then earn three different star categories.

ankitthereviewer said...

Can you elaborate about color rating system or provide link of that site ?

Priya said...

Caroline- I mostly avoid giving a rating too; but some sites and authors do require a rating along with the review.
Like I said, I don't put much weight in the rating, since usually my ratings aren't all that consistent either! I wish there were a way to keep them consistent, though (hence this post!)
Like Ankit said, it would be great, if you could link to that site you mentioned!

Priya said...

Of course, which is why a review usually accompanies the rating! But I don't write reviews on Goodreads and I don't give ratings on my blog (for all the aforementioned reasons) So it's all just a big mix-up! But that's only me, I guess :)
Let's just say I want to come up with a better reviewing system, and so, a better rating system!

ankitthereviewer said...

It is interesting Review system from our fellow blogger Mandy

http://borkadventures.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/book-review-rubric1.pdf

What u say about this?

beautyisasleepingcat said...

Sorry, it took so long to answer. I can't find it anymore. It isn't a site I visit regularly.

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