Oh my stars! Reconsidering a ratings system.

Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder whether I should include you when I write book reviews…

Sorry, is that not how the nursery rhyme goes?

About five years ago, I wrote a piece about star ratings and why I don’t use one (here). Looking back, I can see I did some serious overthinking of the issue. But hey, that’s not so unusual for me!

I’ve been blogging and reviewing books for over seven (!!!) years now, and from the beginning, I opted not to include a rating with my reviews. I’ve often felt boxed-in by the Goodreads 5-star system (oh, for those half stars they deny us!), and felt that the approach that works best for me is to put my reactions and feelings about a book into the review, and not try to attach a number to what is essentially a qualitative experience.

So why am I bringing this up again now?

Because I realize that my approach may be a little contrary to how I read other people’s reviews. Okay, I’ll admit the stark truth here: While I don’t use stars (or any other numeric ratings system), I do find myself scanning other people’s reviews to see their ratings before I go ahead and read the reviews themselves. There could be lots of reasons for this:

  • It’s a book I’ve never heard of, so I want to know at a glance if it’s worth considering.
  • It’s a book I’m reading or planning to read, and while I don’t want to know anything about it just yet (the dreaded spoiler phobia at work), I do want to know the reviewer’s overall opinion of the book.
  • I’m in a rush. I do follow quite a few bloggers and some days, there just isn’t time to read everything in my feed. But, if I see that a blogger whose reading tastes usually align with mine gives a book 5 stars, I’ll slow down and read that review to see if the book is for me.

Give that I value other bloggers’ ratings, how do I continue posting reviews without including ratings as well?

I’m cautiously dipping my toes into the idea of adding ratings to my reviews going forward. (Sorry, mixed metaphor, but whatever.) It feels like a big change for me, but also like not quite as big a deal as I once made it out to be.

What do you think? For anyone who’s read any of my reviews… well, first of all, thank you! But secondly — would you prefer to see me include ratings with my reviews? Overall, do you prefer to see ratings when you visit book blogs?

Please share your thoughts!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads.

It’s nice to be able to give some love to stellar books that not enough people know about! Here are some of my top-rated reads, all with fewer than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads. Where available, I’m including links to my reviews, so check ’em out if you’re interested!

1) All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen (1,463 ratings): A super-charming steampunk adventure, with nods to Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. I think I’m due for a re-read!

2) Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett (1,292 ratings): An Austen-esque novel about a whaling community in Australia in the early 1900s. Such a great read! (my review)

3) Extreme Makeover by Dan Wells (943 ratings): The end of the world, as brought about by a cosmetics company. Scary yet kind of funny in a bizarre sort of way. (my review)

4) Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel (358 ratings): Why haven’t more people read this book?? I rave about this book whenever I get a chance — a mash-up of Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice that works perfectly. (my review)

5) Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst (933 ratings): I read this book years ago, but remember being charmed by the shenanigans of the ghosts in a California cemetery.

6) Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (1,468 ratings): I can’t for the life of me figure out why more people haven’t read this terrific book and its sequel, The Wild Dead. The world-building and storytelling are amazing. (my review)

7) Miniatures by John Scalzi (1,808 ratings): This collection of short fiction is adorable and highly entertaining. (my review)

8) Unequal Affection by Lara S. Ormiston (1,857 ratings): Yet another Austen-influenced book! This is one of the best riffs off of Pride and Prejudice that I’ve encountered — not a retelling exactly, but a continuation with an alternate ending. What if Elizabeth had accepted Mr. Darcy’s first proposal? This book explores what might have happened, and is a wonderful read. (my review)

9) All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson (1,534 ratings): A beautiful story about love, second chances, and survival, set in one of my very favorite places, Alaska. (my review)

10) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (1,591 ratings): As I wrote on Goodreads: Weird, wonderful, beautiful, tragic. If you’re wondering how elephants could possibly fit into a story about the “radium girls” tragedy, check out this inventive, powerful novella. (my review)

Have you read any of these? What are your top underrated books?

If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link so I can check out your list!