Monday, September 10, 2007

Does that look even to you?

I'd like to know how you guys feel about those shiny red stars over at I enjoy being part of GoodReads because when one of you raves about a title, it's so easy to pop that book onto my "To Read" shelf. And, so easy, once those books have moved from that shelf to the "Finished!" section, to dutifully rate them with star levels from one to five. But I don't like it.

For one thing, I feel a need to explain my ratings. Here's one of my quirks: a four-star book is of the same high quality as a five-star one. The fifth star is like one of those silly buttons you buy because you see it and it says something so witty, or brazen, or goofy that it makes you laugh or go UH-HUH! YOU SAID IT SISTER! So you wear it around and feel crazy and proud and silly all at once.

Yup, I bestow a fifth star on a book because it makes me a tiny bit (or maybe a whole lot) unreasonably crazy about it. Notice the unreasonable part. That is actually my rationale: I can't be able to explain---at least not completely---WHY I loved the book in order for it to get the fifth star. Is that insane or what? So I think I'm going to stop rating my reads. The rest of you, go right ahead. I get a big kick out of seeing what you love and what you don't.

Except for those people who give one (or five) stars to a book on their "Not Even Read Yet" shelf. What's up with that? Are they psychic? Or do they have some irrational twinkle distribution system like a prom decorating committee with thousands of glow-in-the-dark stars but only one tall ladder?

But who am I to judge? I have a "Books whose covers I've kissed" category. And a "Don't You Even Put Me in the Same Room with That" prize. How can you express such things when all you've got are five little 's?


  1. Sara - I was so glad to see this post. I confess that I've been feeling a little uncomfortable with those stars myself. Maybe it's a peer thing. I've been doing it, but never feeling 100% right about it. You know, I think I may take your lead and leave the star-spangling to others.

    Thanks for this thoughtful post.

  2. Sara,
    I haven't registered on Good Reads, and one of the reasons is the star rating system. How do you rate your peers, or worse yet, an author you know personally? I'm even thinking that the Amazon ratings are not as accurate as they could be, when friends/relatives bestow an automatic 5-star rating.

  3. I have not checked this place out. Looks like a goodblog (lol). I would have trouble choosing a star level as well.

    Books are three-dimensional, living, breathing things. They deserve more than a star to rate them.

  4. "Books whose covers I've kissed"--boy, do I get that.

    Intense book love is a beautiful thing.

  5. I kind of agree with you, Sara. I've been hating the stars too. I think I'll leave 'em off. That's simple!

    I just gave 2 stars to a book I HATED, but it was also a book I recognized that many people would love. That's hard.

  6. Oh, I like the stars! Not because I think each assessment is truly accurate, but if a number of people give 4-5 stars, I can see that it's been a well-received book. Of course, this does not take into consideration friend/family stars. On the other hand, if a book consistently gets 1-2 stars, I can feel comfortable skipping it. At first, I chose 5 stars for books I liked, then realized that 5 stars should really be reserved for the most excellent of books, so I've adjusted my ratings.

  7. I agree that the stars can be helpful, Kris, if there are lots of ratings for a particular book. And I'm always interested when someone I know gives a book five stars.

    Maybe I'd feel better if I could post my irrational policy next to every one of my "reviews." Or put my arm around the author and tell her everything I DID love, even if the whole book was only a two star.


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