NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

About Ratings, or the Lack Thereof

I wrote a short while ago in the post "About This Blog" about the kinds of book posts I like to write here at Books 'N Border Collies, but I never mentioned a rating system. That's because I don't have one. Shannon Hale had a very interesting post on her blog recently that hit on this subject (among others). In case you hadn't seen them before, here were the questions she posed:

1. Do you find that the anticipation of reviewing the book has changed your reading experience?
2. Are you rating the book even as you read? Or do you wait until the end to sum it all up?
3. Does knowing you'll be reviewing it (or rating it) publicly affect which books you pick up in the first place?
4. Does the process of writing the review itself change how you felt about the book?
5. What is your motivation to assign a rating to a book and declare it to the world?
6. If you review a book but don't rate, why not? What do you feel is your role as reviewer?

As I mentioned, I don't have a rating system. I never did and I never will. When I finish a book I tend to move very quickly on the next one. I may have loved or hated the book I just finished or anything in between. It doesn't matter. I move on, but good books live on in my subconscious. A book I thought I didn't care for may prod me into thinking about it affectionately weeks or months later, whereas I may all but immediately forget a book I loved while I was reading it. I never know what I really think of a book until I put some distance between us. Therefore, I don't think it's useful to anyone for me to rate a book.

That being said, knowing I'll be writing about a book has no effect whatsoever on what I choose to read. I said in my earlier post that I don't consider what I write "reviews", ergo I don't consider myself a "reviewer". I accept occasional Advance Review Copies of books from publishers or authors, but with the exception of putting myself on a deadline to finish them on or soon after publication, I treat them the same as everything else I read. I make my choices based almost entirely on the desire I have to read the book at that time. Deadlines for ARCs and Reading Challenges are secondary factors when I'm trying to make a decision. And both of those factors will be all but going by the wayside in 2010. I have some interesting plans for myself coming up that I will share with you when it's time for next year's Lifetime Learning Project Plan!


Ana S. said...

I'm with you: I just can't do ratings. Nothing against them, but they don't work for me. And sometimes it also takes me a while to truly know how I feel about a book.

Anonymous said...

I'm in two minds about ratings. I have them on my site but they aren't the be all and end all because the review is the most important thing. However, the rating can be a quick indication of what someone thought.

They have their flaws such as lack of nuance in them. Their a blunt tool that should be used in conjunction with a review and not instead of a review.

When I finish a book I give it a rating, it's just something to put down before I write a review where I formulate my thoughts more coherently.

Anonymous said...

They're not their.

Jeane said...

I have the rating system just because I like to click a button and see all the books that I thought were fantastic the past year, or good, or what I gave up on. But of course a rating will never reflect everything I feel about a book. Sometimes I wonder if I should quit giving books ratings...

bermudaonion said...

I don't do ratings either, but I don't mind when other people do.

Literate Housewife said...

I've thought long and hard about ratings. I've seen it debated on any number of blogs. I've toyed with the buy it, rent it, forget it idea, but it's still too limiting I think. I suppose what I write are reviews. I have the word review in my blog title, but I don't see myself in a Roger & Ebert type of situation - although a thumbs up or thumbs down wouldn't be a bad rating system. I'll have to go back to Shannon's post. I'm interested by the questions she has posed.

JoAnn said...

I started out rating books, but have found myself backing away from them the last few months. My thoughts on several books have 'evolved' after posting my review/rating and I've regretted the number. Actually, I'm not wild about using the word review either...

Lezlie said...

Nymeth ~ Exactly. I was just replying to Diane elsewhere that I *do* pay attention to ratings where other folks have a system they use, but I can't bring myself to have one myself.

Damned Conjuror ~ Your rating system is great! I especially love "My eyes, my eyes, my beautiful eyes!" :-) I agree with you though. Without the review itself, the rating doesn't mean a lot. It's also good to know what each individual reviewer means by their ratings. Three starts for one person can be quite different than three stars for another, hence the importance of the expanded thoughts.

I make those goofy grammar/spelling errors, too, and then I'm so embarrassed when I notice them after I hit the publish button. :-)

Jeane ~ I wouldn't give up on them, especially if you're using them for personal reasons like that. Like Damned Conjuror said, used along with the review they can be a great tool. I'd only stop using them if they weren't serving any realistic purpose or you truly don't want to use them anymore.

Bermuda Onion ~ I like when people *do* use ratings, I just know myself well enough to know that my rating today won't necessarily be my rating two weeks from now.

Literate Housewife ~ It is a highly subjective topic. I don't think one way is better than the other. They work great for some, not so much for others.

I think of your posts as reviews, too. And I like them a lot! :-)

JoAnn ~ You wouldn't think this kind of stuff would require that much analysis, would you? I sure didn't when I first started out blogging! :-) It's amazing, the weird little things that can cause us anxiety that we never really thought about before.


Rebecca Reid said...

I can't rate books either. I just like to write about them and explore the concepts and impressions I had when I read them. I can't put a number on that.

Lezlie said...

Rebecca ~ Sometimes it also simply boils down to something I've said here a number of times. Just because I didn't like a book doesn't mean it's not perfect for someone else. If you discuss what a book is about, and I don't mean a summary but, like you said, concepts and impressions, people can decide if it might be for them or not.


Serena said...

I really don't like rating systems because I think that some nuances of a book are intriguing enough for me to want to read a book...and I assume readers of my blog feel the same way.

I think ratings too easily distract from the quality of books.

Lezlie said...

Serena ~ That's very true. There are times I may not have liked a book overall, but there were aspects about it that I thought made it entirely worth reading.