There are two definite camps in the book blogosphere: those who give/find useful star ratings, and those who don’t. I’ve always been in the former camp, but I do recognise that ratings are no more than a highly personal snapshot of opinion at time of publication.
I started out giving whole stars out of five, then had to give half stars to reflect in between scores, and my ratings thus became out of ten. Then I found that I wanted to finesse my scores a little further and started giving half marks again. I’ve since found that I give a lot of scores of 8.5/10. On one occasion (see here) I went one step further giving a book 7.3/10! What was I on that day eh?)
In fact it is rare that I give scores of 6/10 or less, most books get between 7 and 9, and around 10% in a year may get the full 10/10. That makes the majority of books I read better than average. I like to think that’s because I mainly choose to read books that I expect or know will be good, (although it can be therapeutic to read a stinker just once in a while).
Back to the snapshot business for a moment. There are times when I’ve gushed about books and scored them highly, but with the benefit of hindsight can see that I overrated them. Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James was one such case. I was about the only blogger loving this book at the time of its publication. I later realised I was reading it with rose-tinted glasses adapting it for TV as I went with Colin Firth (natch) starring. Now, I can see that as a hybrid crime/classic pastiche it wasn’t entirely successful; I stand by my initial enjoyment of reading it though.
Then there are books that I’ve underrated. One such came to mind as I was writing my post yesterday about Illumination by Matthew Plampin. I was constantly thinking of and comparing it with Andrew Miller’s wonderful novel Pure. I did score Pure as 9/10 at the time but, going by the way this novel has stayed with me, and the number of times I recommend it to others, it should have been a five star book.
All this musing leads me to ask you, dear reader…
– Are you’re bothered by scores in a review?
– If you do find them useful, is my fussing with halves out of ten taking it too far?
I do plan to keep scoring books for my own records (they’ll appear in my Reading lists), but other than highlighting 5 star books, or absolute stinkers, I’m thinking of dropping them from my main reviews, unless you want them that is!
Thank you for bearing with me…