Today I’d like to talk about ratings. I know this is a topic that has been widely discussed. However, I’ve never talked about it on Erin Reads, so I figured, why not?
A few days ago I was talking with a friend about rating books on Goodreads. We were bemoaning the lack of half-stars in the three- to five-star range. I have a pretty good feel by now of what constitutes a whole-numbered star for me, but I miss the half-stars offered by LibraryThing for the occasional book that falls in between.
As you have most likely noticed, I don’t rate books according to any set system on Erin Reads. For me, ratings are a way to remember my own personal sense of a book. My experiences as a reader, a blogger, and a bookseller have shown me again and again that one (wo)man’s literary trash is another (wo)man’s treasure, so I don’t feel comfortable assigning an overall rating to books I talk about here. I’d rather visitors read my thoughts on a particular book to get the whole story, as it were, of my own experience with the book and infer based on that than glance at a rating and feel they’ve gotten a sense of the book. I don’t believe any book can be boiled down to a single rating — there’s always more to it than that. So, in the spirit of “better safe than sorry,” I’ve never set up a rating system here.
I do, however, rate books on Goodreads. Perhaps this seems like a contradiction? My reasons for doing so are twofold. First, as mentioned above, I use Goodreads ratings to remember how I felt about a book overall. Because I know what makes a four-star book to me, for instance, so I can better recall my general feelings toward a book given such a rating. Second, I find it’s really helpful, when looking up new-to-me books on Goodreads, to see how others, with whom I’m Goodreads friends and with whose reading preferences I’m familiar, have reacted to a particular book. Since I use and love that feature of the website, I feel I should contribute.
Does this mean I am against rating systems on blogs? Of course not. Sometimes, I’ll see a blogger has rated something very highly, and I’ll feel compelled to read the review and find out why. The opposite is also true. Almost never do I glance at a rating and skip the review, so I’m really not sure why people will do so if I start using a rating system on Erin Reads!
Do you rate, on your blog or on your favorite book-tracking site? Why or why not? How do you use or react to others’ rating systems? I’m quite curious!