Why I Give High Ratings to Books
November 18, 2012 58 Comments
I don’t give low ratings to books very often. Have you noticed? I mostly give 4 and 5 stars with the occasional 3.5 stars and a rare 3 stars. 1 and 2 stars have not appeared anymore since I decided not to rate books that I don’t finish. I review books that I don’t finish, but I don’t think it’s fair to give them a rating based on (say) the first 100 pages.
So, that’s the first reason: Books I don’t finish I don’t rate, i.e., books that I do finish are at least compelling enough to sit through till the end. And that’s worth 3 stars at the least. I don’t often put a book away before it’s done. This year, out of 170 books read so far, I did not finish 6.
The second reason is very different: My acceptance criteria are strict! I only accept a book if my first impression (cover, description, author information) suggest I will give the book 4 or 5 stars after reading. In fact, lately I’ve become even more strict and aim for 5 stars.
Look, this is my to-be-read bookcase:
There are about 70 books in this bookcase (some double-shelving) and I have another 20 to-be-read books on my ereader. That’s a lot! It would take me about 6 months or more to read them all without getting any new books in the meantime.
I’ve got some principles:
- I need to read all the books on my shelves. I cannot collect books and build up a library from which I can choose whatever book I like when I feel like it. No, I feel I need to read these books, and I need to read them soon. I don’t like yellowed pages so all these beautiful new books need to be read before age sets in.
- I review all books that I get for review. And they have priority. So all other books will have to make place (literally, in many cases) for the review books. Obviously, the more review books I get the longer it will take me to read through the books on my shelves. I am careful not to accept too many, so there is always some space left in a month to read some of the books I already have.
- The books that I already have are not worse than the books I may want to get. At some point, I really, really wanted those books. It’s just that I have looked at them so often since, that they don’t seem so special. But really they are as special as any new books I might accept (for review, from the library, etc.).
The third reason is that I’m an easy reader. If I like a book, it’ll probably get 4 stars. My rating represents the enjoyment I get out of reading a book as well as the quality of the book. So, a really well-written, great story will easily get 5 stars, whereas a badly written fun story might get 3.5 or 4 stars. With “badly written” I don’t mean spelling/grammar mistakes. I can handle up to 5 of those in the whole of a book before I get seriously annoyed.
So, those are the reasons I rate books relatively high. How about you? Do you come across books that you’d rate lower than 3 stars? Do you finish them?