Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Elusive Perfect 10 Star Rating

I apologize in advance for how rambley this will probably be. This post is as much for working out my own thoughts as it is to get the opinions of other people.

I've always enjoyed rating and ranking things. Whether it be CDs or movies or books, I've always felt the need to have distinct favorites, a distinct list of my top 10, and to rate things (which is in stark contrast to the fact that I'm completely indecisive about everything). This might be why I chose to start a blog where I review things. I like not only expressing my feelings about something, but also giving it a score that defines how good I think that thing is.

However, as I've been reviewing more and more books, I've realized that I seem to be a fairly tough rater. Many of my favorite booktubers have average book ratings somewhere above 4 stars (out of 5). I, however, have an average of 3.38. Of the 113 books I've rated on Goodreads, only 14 books have received a 5 star rating. In comparison, I've given out thirty-nine 4 star ratings and forty-one 3 star ratings.

Am I that unimpressed with the books I read that I've rated the majority of my books as just "average" and have only thought that 14 books deemed receiving five stars? I mean, I only gave three of the Harry Potter books a 5 star rating, and that's my favorite series ever!

I've realized that the large number of 4 star ratings is due to me shirking away from giving a book 5 stars unless I think it truly deserves it. I've read a book, thought that it's good enough to deserve 4.75 stars... and yet still clicked the 4 star rating, simply because I didn't think it deserved the full 5 star rating. That book was closer to being a 5 star than to being a 4 star, and yet I still gave it 4.

Along similar lines, when I go to do the ratings for my CDs On My Shelf posts, I have trouble giving CDs the full 10 stars unless they're one of my all-time, perfect, can't-be-beaten, CDs. So far, I've discussed several CDs that I would consider to be among my favorites... and all but 1 of those favorites has received 9.5 stars rather than 10. And when it came to that single CD that received 10 stars, I knew going into the post that it would get the full 10 stars, because it's my second favorite CD of ALL TIME. The 4 CDs I've discussed which received 9.5 ratings would all fall within my top 20 CDs ever, and possibly in the top 10, and yet they only received 9.5. Why?

I feel like I often hold the books I read (and the music I listen to) to unreachable standards. A couple times, I've found myself thinking that a book wasn't as good as Harry Potter, so there was no way it deserved the full 5 stars. That's a ridiculous standard for me to hold any books to, because I know full well that I'll never love a book or series as much as I love Harry Potter. And yet I use it as a comparison. Is it justified, or is it stupid? I can't decide.

Lately, I've been more lenient with my 5 star ratings, just to try it out. I've been using Goodreads' little descriptors attached to the ratings (5 stars= it was amazing, 4= really liked it, 3= liked it, 2= it was ok, 1= didn't like it) to help me decide what to give it. In the last month, I've given 3 books 5 star ratings- Clockwork Princess, City of Glass, and City of Heavenly Fire. I definitely think that Clockwork Princess deserved every single decimal of the 5 star rating... but I'm not sure about the other two. How can I give all 3 books the same rating, when I could easily rank them from best to worst?

Do I give out less 10 star ratings because I want to save them for those very special books/movies/CDs, or because I'm not as easily impressed as the general public? I'd like to believe that it's both. As creative and artsy as I am, I'm also a thinker. I tend to be really analytical and that tends to lead to being somewhat critical. So I can certainly see that I'm probably a more difficult person to please. However, I do feel like I try to save the "full marks" for books/CDs that are genuinely special- books that I can re-read over and over with the same enjoyment; CDs that I can enjoy all the time, regardless of any outside factors. It's not just a quality rating, but an emotional rating as well- the difference between like and love.

I guess I say all of this to say... I'm stingy with my 10 star ratings, and I think I'm OK with that. If you see that I've given full stars to anything in any medium, you know that it's not just something I thought was good and slapped a rating on. Rather, it's something I think is special and really care about, which is what I think that a full star rating is all about in the first place. Could I be a little more lenient? Sure. Should I just go ahead and give the rest of the Harry Potter series the full stars? Probably. Will I?......... Maybe. I like being able to easily denote my favorites in the series.

So what are your thoughts on this whole thing? Do you (whether you're a reviewer or not) tend to be picky with your ratings? Do you hold off on full-star ratings like I do, or do you tend to hand them out fairly freely? Once again, sorry for it being so rambley- it was practically stream of consciousness writing. I used my filter very sparingly.

Hopefully, either Monday or Tuesday will be my Prisoner of Azkaban Discussion post. That will hopefully be followed closely by my May/June book haul (which is slightly extremely impressive... I have yet to count the books I have bought. and I'm not sure I want to). I also plan on getting a chapter of my Harry Potter fanfic up soon. I would've done one sooner, but I hit a bit of a snag with the plot and have been trying to figure out where to go for this chapter before moving on to some of the most exciting/ my favorite plot points!

Thanks for reading! If you like my posts, don't forget to subscribe/follow, since it lets me know that you're enjoying what I'm doing. See y'all in a few days!

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