A Note About Ratings

So a couple of weeks ago at work, one of my co-workers asked me why so many of my reviews are positive. It wasn’t accusatory or anything, just curious. And to be honest, it hadn’t gone unnoticed by me that the majority of my reviews seem to involve a good rating and/or some kind of gif of people dancing. So to hear it asked out loud made me think, “Uh-oh, it’s not just me who has noticed this.” While it was easy to explain to someone who was standing right in front of me, it’s not so obvious to people who I don’t know personally. So here’s my explanation (and before I start, a disclaimer: they aren’t ALL positive…I’ve given some mediocre reviews and even some 2s, which i consider to be bad. But for the most part they do tend to be in the range of 4 or so).

First of all, I don’t pick up a book unless I’m pretty sure going in that I’m going to like it based on either the subject matter, genre, reviews, that it’s written by an author whose work I like, etc. Maybe that’s a fault of mine – I don’t read outside my comfort zone much. Seriously, it seems like if it’s not non-fiction, YA or horror I either don’t give it a chance or I bump it so far down the to-read pile that I never end up getting to it. So when I end up reading a book that I only rate a 3 or below, I’m usually pretty surprised.

Also, if I’m not enjoying a book then 19 times out of 20 I’ll just give up on it. Two recent examples: Chime, which I tried to get through in both print and audio versions before deciding that it just wasn’t for me, and Incarceron, which I gave up on pretty quickly because it just didn’t click with me at all. I know a lot of people see giving up on a book as something negative, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ll never get to all of the books that I want to read as it is. I don’t want to waste time on something I’m not enjoying. Therefore, I almost never actually finish a book I don’t like and I don’t do DNF reviews because I don’t think it’s fair to review something that I haven’t read cover to cover. I know a lot of people do review DNF books and that’s cool, whatever works for them. It’s just not something I’m comfortable doing. What if I had stuck with it and ended up thinking it was the greatest book ever, you know? And I gave it a crap DNF review that turned someone off of reading it? It was suggested that I keep a list of DNF books because it’s more fair/less harsh than an actual review and I think it’s a really good suggestion. I may do that. Because truly, I don’t like EVERY book I pick up.

And…quite frankly, I’m not that hard to please. Maybe that’s a bad quality in someone who is reviewing books, but I’m the pure entertainment kind of reader. I love blogs that do critical reviews and I have a few that I read every day, but that’s just not what I’m going for. If I were critically analyzing everything I read I’d end up hating reading because it would feel like a job or a chore. Things tend to fall into one of three piles for me – “loved the crap out of it,” “liked it well enough and it kept me entertained enough to read the entire thing,” or “didn’t finish.” That’s not to say I don’t have standards, because I do. But they’re low. Just kidding. It’s not low standards, I just judge more by entertainment than I do any critical measure.

Also, some of it is luck. I’ve been on one of the best book streaks ever in the past few months. Granted there have been a few I’ve picked up and put down without finishing them (including the ones I mentioned earlier) but since I’ve been reading the reviews of bloggers whose opinions I trust before I pick what to read next my reading life has improved dramatically. I still get the occasional stinker but they’re pretty few and far between.

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Soooo…while most of my reviews do trend toward positive (usually 3.75 or better), they’re all legit ratings. Never fear!

How about you, do you find that most of your reviews are positive? Do you review DNF books?

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5 Comments

  1. Like you, I generally don’t pick a book if it doesn’t appeal to me, so most of my ratings are 3 or higher. If it ends up below that, I usually don’t post a review. I don’t feel that it’s necessary to post on the blog. However, I do rate it on amazon, goodreads, and barnes and noble and give a short review of why I don’t like it or DNF. That’s my 2 cents. 🙂

    Reply
  2. I agree 100% with everything you’ve said! I honestly worry that people stopping by my blog will think I’m sugar-coating or lying about books since the majority of my reviews are 3 stars or more. But the truth is I just no longer read books that I’m not enjoying.

    Last year I read a LOT of books that I didn’t like and it led me into a lot of reading slumps and days when the thought of reading made me shiver which should never be the case! So this year I decided I would read all those books I’ve been dying to read and not continue on with anything I’m not enjoying. I will still end up with some negative reviews but not many.

    Life is so short and there are SO many books that I know I’m going to love, that I simply can’t see the point of reading crap. And I have enough reviews to be writing without writing ones for books I didn’t even finish!

    Reply
  3. So I pretty much feel the exact same way. The only time I finish a book I don’t like is if it’s a book I requested to review. I have DNF’d several books that authors have requested a review of, but I state in my policy that that’s my option.

    I guess, that like you, I have a lot of positive b/c I don’t choose or accept books I don’t think I would enjoy. Life is way too short.

    Reply
  4. Asia Morela

     /  March 24, 2012

    What’s wrong with having mostly positive reviews/ratings? LOL
    I’m in the same situation as you. If you go to my old blog (asiamorela.wordpress.com) and check out my Ratings page, there are more books in the A’s and B’s than in all three C, D and E put together. I love picking on books in reviews, but just because I happen to notice one detail that isn’t right for reason so and so, won’t stop me from rating the book as a whole a B or B+, or even an A if all the other elements were really great.
    I have to say, though, it’s been years since I didn’t finish a book. I always finish books for many reasons (I *paid* for this book! dont’ waste, LOL and maybe the end will be better than the beginning?), but since I started to write reviews, one of them’s definitely been: so I can have fun criticizing the book on my blog! I only do that with popular/bestselling novels, though, but then that makes up most of what I read. So, like you, while I don’t purposely try and remain within my comfort zone, I do read books that are *supposed* to be good in the first place.
    Your comment about being easy to please (I always claim that, too) once more makes me think of the matter of tastes, and personal opinions. I’ve been meaning to write a blog about that for a while. I mean, I wouldn’t have a problem admitting that my standards are low, but… I also didn’t like books that a lot of other people raved about, or at least recommended. So, yeah, my standards are just different.

    Reply
  5. I agree with everything you and the other commenter’s said. I have absolutely no issues at all with putting down a book that just isn’t doing it for me. I will never get to all the books I want to read in one lifetime, so why waste even a little of that time on a book I don’t enjoy? And I won’t post a review of a book I don’t finish either, doesn’t seem fair to critique something I didn’t read all the way through. I tend to post mostly positive reviews as well (only one negative so far on my new blog) but, again, if I’m not enjoying something at all, I put it down and move on. Great discussion topic Karen:)

    Reply

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