Hello and welcome to another bookish discussion! Today’s topic is assigning ratings to books: yay or nay?
When I started blogging, I noticed that most book bloggers gave quantitative ratings to books – 3/5 stars, 5/10 coffees, you name it. Even though from the beginning I decided to not rate books (just following my instinct), it is a topic I really thought about. And here I am, sharing my conclusions with you.
Let’s start with the yey arguments for rating books:
§ Clear opinion on the book – Attributing a number to a book is the simplest way of communicating your opinion on it. Of course, the rating should be explained with arguments in order to be convincing, but the “conclusion” on the book is the rating itself.
§ Easier to compare books – Starting from the premise that a person rates books in a consistent manner, it might be easier to compare books and choose which one to read. For instance, if a blogger who has similar literary tastes as yours will rate a book with 2 stars and another book with 5 stars, which one would you read?
The nay arguments I thought about:
§ Narrow view on the reading experience – I think the way we experience a book depends a lot on other factors which have nothing to do with the book itself – our prior expectations, events happening in our life, and others. So associating a number with a complex reading experience might offer a way-too-simple view …
§ Differences in how we understand rating scales – When a reviewer rates a book with the lowest (1/5) or highest (5/5) option, things are quite straightforward. But what about the middle rating – a book with 3 out of 5 is ok as in “I liked it” or “it was ok, but nothing impressed me” or maybe something else? Most bloggers explain their rating system, but how many of us do read (and understand) it? When you read a review and see THE number, you might associate it with your own rating scale, and not with the blogger’s rating scale.
§ Not all books can be compared to each other – Imagine someone rating 4/5 stars both a classic such as “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy and an easier read such as Bloom by Estee Lalonde. While both books might have their own reasons of getting 4/5, they are not comparable at all! In such cases ratings can be misleading, as you’re not really comparing apples to apples.
To conclude, I believe that rating books conveys an opinion in a simple manner. However, it might be misleading as it encompasses many subjectives ideas that are narrowed down to a single number.
My final verdict for rating books is: nay!
What do you think about assigning ratings to books? Why are you doing / not doing it? I am very much looking forward to reading your comments!
‘Till next time … happy reading!