Welcome to Thoughts for Thursday! This feature is our outlet to talk with you about whatever we currently have on our minds. It might be bookish, it might not! Now for this week's thought:
My Mixed Feelings About Ratings
Ratings are fickle things.
The more I read, the more critical I become, the more books in my repertoire for a new book to compete with. Therefore, books I rated a certain number of stars in the past, might not hold up to that same standard today (I cringe a little when I look at some of my first ratings). And that standard is a moving target. And I sure don’t have rating down to a science. I try my best to remain consistent but I am only human (queue Christina Perri song) and I may feel a certain way one day only to change my opinion the next. I still don’t know what to do about books that bring a lot of feels but are flawed in some way, or vice versa. And I might change my mind about a book between the time I finish it and the time I write my review. Sometimes I am in between how I feel and how I want to feel. Hell, I might even flip flop.
Not to mention, we all read differently, feel differently, and thus rate books differently. Your rating may very well not be my rating. I know some readers who rarely give out 5 stars, while others give them out all the freaking time. I fall somewhere in the middle, I think. Some of us are more critical than others. Some of us are mood readers. And then there are the black sheeps. There are so many things that affect ratings. So honestly, what do ratings really say?
And yet, knowing how fickle ratings are, I still like having ratings as a way to compare the books I've read. And I like seeing them in the reviews I read (and that is why I include them in my own). Of course, I want to know why you liked a book, but I prefer to also know how much you liked it compared to all the others you've read. A review and rating is more influential to me than a review alone. I know I may be displacing my faith – putting too much faith in ratings and not enough in the details of the book – but I am just being honest. I find myself a lot more likely to take a book recommendation if I see that 4 or 5 stars next to it than if you list features of the book that appeal to me.
I think this is where the stigma of 3 stars comes from. If I see 3 star reviews, I know you liked the book. But you didn’t love it. With the staggering length of my TBR, 3 stars are not all that motivating to me. If I was already planning on reading a book you give 3 stars to, that book is going to stay exactly where it is on my TBR. For the record, if it weren’t on my TBR I would add it but wouldn’t place any emphasis on it. The 4 and 5 star books are the ones that really shake things up, cause a reaction. And I think in effect, 3 stars gets diminished.
Now, I am not saying that the rating matters more than the review. The book does have to appeal to me in some way. If I see a 5 star rating but the book is about a topic I am not particularly fond of, I am not going to just naively go out and get it. But if you read two books that sound really interesting to me, rate one 4 stars, and the other 5 stars, I’ll probably read both, but I’m going to go for that 5 star book first. Even knowing I may rate them oppositely of you. Even knowing how subjective those ratings are.