Monday, April 25, 2016

How I Rate Books! [2016 Update]

Hey, y'all! So, I've been doing a lot of reading. I know what you're thinking: "Kristen, you always do a lot of reading!" and to that I would say, "Well yeah. Kinda." I got a bit slumpy last year. A lot. And now that I've gotten back in the groove of reading a lot (12 books in February, 9 in March!) I've realized that my descriptions of ratings no longer accurately describe my reasoning for giving out certain ratings. And what I mean by this is that (for example) I have descriptions explaining what a "6/10" means to me, and literally every time I give out a 6/10 rating, I think that the description no longer describes how I actually feel about that number rating. So, I'm going through and re-vamping everything. Below, you'll find the list of possible ratings (with some excluded-- you'll see why) as well as descriptions of what these mean to me and words/books that I associate with that specific rating.

Explanation/Changes

After using my previous rating system for ~ a year, I realized that it was very skewed toward enjoyment of a book. I realized that 95% of ratings I was giving were 3/5 or higher. And that's not necessarily how I actually feel about the books that I read. So, I decided to do something to fix that.

I personally give ratings out of 10 stars instead of 5. I feel that it allows for more accuracy/nuances within my system. However, I also have recently realized that I do still rely heavily upon the 5 star system. I discovered that my personal feelings toward a book tend to dictate the star rating out of 5, while my critical eye dictates where within that star rating the book falls. Allow me to explain by giving you my description of each rating out of 5, as well as the "10 star" breakdown within those.


Ratings out of 5:

5 STAR RATING
If I give a book 5/5 stars on Goodreads, it means I really loved that book. Like, a lot. I could have a couple problems with it, but my feelings are strong enough about the book that I ignore them. 

Ratings out of 10 within this rating: 10/10 & 9.5/10

4 STAR RATING
If I give a book 4/5 stars on Goodreads, it means I really liked the book. Books within favorite series tend to be 4/5 or higher. These are books that I enjoyed that will also stay with me. They may not have been as amazingly outstanding as their 5/5 counterparts, but they're ones that I thoroughly enjoyed and that will stick with me.

Ratings out of 10 within this rating: 8/10 - 9/10

3 STAR RATING
If I give a book 3/5 stars on Goodreads, it means I liked it. I enjoyed reading it, and it *probably* didn't have any huge, glaring problems. The key difference between 3 and 4 star books is that 3 star books don't stick with me as much. They're not going to show up on any favorites lists, but they're also not going to show up on any least favorites lists. 

Ratings out of 10 within this rating: 6/10 - 7.5/10

2 STAR RATING
If I give a book 2/5 stars on Goodreads, it means I had definite problems with it. If I think about a book and the first thing that comes to my mind is a laundry list of problems I had with it, it's probably here. It's likely not an outright hatred of the book, but I just didn't like it. Maybe it wasn't my thing or there were aspects that I thought were bad, but either way, my overall thoughts about it are negative ones. This is also my "most likely to lie to myself rating." I don't know how many times I've given a book a low 3/5 only to change it to 2/5 later because I'd been trying to convince myself that I liked it. 

Ratings out of 10 within this rating: 4/10 - 5.5/10

1 STAR RATING
If I give a book 1/5 stars on Goodreads, it means I strongly disliked the book. I like to call this my "kill it with fire" rating. Unlike a 2 star rating, when I think of this book, I don't automatically think of its problems. I automatically think of my complete disgust for the book.You're probably wondering why this one takes up the largest numerical range, and that's just because I give it out so infrequently. Rarely do I pick up a book that I loathe, and rarely do I make it all the way through a book that I really don't like. However, this rating stays here, ready for whatever awful book I see fit to put into it eventually.   

Ratings out of 10 within this rating: 0/10 - 3.5/10


Ratings out of 10:
(and books that are examples of that rating)

10/10: Literal perfection. My mind is blown and I probably just want to hug it.
Examples of 10 star books:  The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson & The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

9.5/10: I still absolutely love this book, but I either have some small problems with it or there's something indefinable about it that makes me feel like it's not quite a 10 star book.
Examples of 9.5 star books: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell & Night Film by Marisha Pessl

9/10: I really enjoyed this book, and it's right at the upper end of the 4/5 spectrum, but I just can't bring myself to give it a full 5/5. I kinda view this as an -A. Really good, but not quite amazing. A key aspect that gets a book up to a 9 (instead of an 8.5) is that typically, there's a specific aspect that really impresses me, whether that's world building, the characters, etc.
Examples of 9 star books: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson & The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

8.5/10: This book is really great, and I really enjoy it. This book is really solid and it's definitely going to stick with me. I may have had a couple problems with it, but it's overall very strong across every aspect.
Examples of 8.5 star books: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen & City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

8/10: I really enjoy this book and it will definitely still stick with me, but I found some problems. Technically, this book might borderline a 3/5 rating because of the quality, but I enjoyed it enough that I felt that it deserved a 4/5 rating.
Examples of 8 star books: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie & Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

7.5/10: On the flip side of the 8/10, this one borders on 4/5, but doesn't quite get there because I didn't enjoy it quite as much. I find problems with it, but it gets a rating within the 3/5 rating because of my enjoyment more than because of the quality.
Examples of 7.5 star books: Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman & Lexicon by Max Barry

7/10: I like this book, but I don't think that it's particularly special. I enjoyed it, and might think that it's a fun read, but it didn't really impress me in any way. It's missing some sort of depth, uniqueness, or freshness that's present in books with higher ratings.
Examples of 7 star books: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs & Murder After Hours by Agatha Christie

6.5/10: Essentially the same reasoning as 7/10, but I like it less than I like a 7 star book/have more problems with it.
Examples of 6.5 star books: Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

6/10: Once again, the same reasoning as the two before it, but right at the bottom of books that I can still say that I like.
Examples of 6 star books: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Ten by Gretchen McNeil

5.5/10: I didn't like this book, but I also don't hate this book. I found a lot of problems with it. I guess my feelings toward it could be described as vague dislike or indifference. 4.5-5.5 are about the same in the fact that I have a vague dislike or indifference toward them, but the variance between them is mostly in how I feel about them quality-wise. As stated in the 2/5 description, the first thing I tend to think of with these books are the problems I have with it. And the more problems, the lower the rating.
Examples of 5.5 star books: Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie & Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse

5/10: Like with the previous rating, I have a vague dislike or indifference toward this book. With this rating, the indifference is probably the strongest because it is exactly in the middle. And, it should go without saying, but I had a lot of problems with this book.
Examples of 5 star books: Ghosted Vol. 1: Haunted Heist by Joshua Williamson

4.5/10: Once again, this is pretty much the same as the two before it, but there's more of a dislike and the quality is lower. If I give a book this rating, I once again had problems with it, but I could see myself saying that I dislike it.
Examples of 4.5 star books: Wildflower by Janine Carbone & Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

4/10: I'm not quite to hatred of this book, but I could definitely say that I dislike it. As noted in the 2/5 rating description, the first thing that comes to mind with this book is still a laundry list of problems rather than "I hated it."
Examples of 4 star books: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi & The Leveller by Julia Durango

3.5 & lower: If I give a book 3.5 or lower (AKA 1/5), I really disliked this book. When I think of it, my immediate reaction is "ugh, I hate that book."
Examples of 3.5 & lower books: Looking for Alaska by John Green

So, that's it for my re-working of my ratings! I've tried very hard to make everything as clear as possible, but let me know down in the comments if there's anything that you're confused about or would like clarified.

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