Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Charting the Star System

by Stephanie Black

Bloglet today. Sorry to be brief, but my deep, dark secret is that I’m veerrrrry slllooowwwww at blogging. And considering that my breakfast dishes are still on the table, I need to pick up my daughter at preschool in forty-five minutes, and I have a YW meeting at my house in an hour, I’m thinking I’ll cut the blog short today. (Clarification: normally, it wouldn’t bother me at all that my breakfast dishes are still on the table. I don't worry about breakfast dishes unless my visiting teachers (or YW presidency) are coming over, or I have guests staying at the house and I want to pretend to be classier than I am. Why clean up the breakfast dishes only to have lunch dishes promptly mess up the kitchen again? And even today, I don’t actually plan to do the breakfast dishes—I’m only going to clean off the table, since you can see that from the living room. Who cares about what’s in the sink? No one will see that).

Today’s brief topic, upon which I hope our readers will expound in the comment trail, is the five-star rating system used for book reviews on places like Goodreads.

It seems to me that the stars mean different things to different people. You read a three-star review and get the impression that the reviewer really liked the book. You read a different three-star review and get distinctly negative vibes. So what do three stars mean? Good or bad read? Apparently both, depending on who’s dishing out stars.

When you review books, how do you use the star ratings? If you liked a book, do you generally give it five stars, or do you reserve five stars for books that really blew you away with how awesome they were? Does three stars means thumbs up or thumbs down, or a little of both? Four stars? Two stars? The dreaded one star? What do they indicate when you post a review?


At 1/28/2009 2:32 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

My personal rating system as backwards of the stars, more along the lines of a book being #1.
1 = a book I have read more than 2 or 3 times and will read over and over again.
2 = a book I have read once and would like to read a second time (2's can become 1's).
3 = a book I enjoyed one time but really have no interest in reading again.
4 = a book I finished but really did not enjoy.
5 = a book that I didn't even finish.

For me this works really well. When I look at star ratings I tend to use the same idea.

At 1/28/2009 5:40 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

For me I'd say:

5 stars: The writing was excellent and the story completely absorbing. I loved the book and would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. This book would get a lot of word of mouth by me.

4 stars: I really liked the book, but there were a couple things I would have changed/edited/developed. Or there was a flaw that bothered me like maybe head-hopping, etc.

3 stars: I liked the story enough to finish the book, and the writing was decent. But the editorial was lacking.

2 stars: Either the writing was poor, and I skimmed most of it to get to the ending. Or there was a fatal flaw that I couldn't get over.

1 star: I probably didn't finish it, or if I did I was seriously tormenting myself.

At 1/28/2009 7:37 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

5 Stars: AMAZING!!!!
4: Really good.
3: OK, but maybe it was predictable, got boring, or annoyed me in some way.
2: I recommend that you do NOT read this.
1: I'm retching on the book as I write this review.

At 1/28/2009 9:14 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

I agree with Heather on stars 2-5, with Stephanie on 1--except I'm usually poking my eyes out with a fork.

At 1/28/2009 9:31 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Actually, the above comment listed under my name isn't mine--it's from my fifteen-year-old daughter. She also changed my Facebook status today. I'm feeling identity-challenged.

For me:

4-Really liked it. I'd read other books by this author.
3-It was okay, but either it wasn't particularly riveting, or there were things that bugged me.
2-Too many things bugged me. Didn't like it overall, even if there were some good elements.
1-Unspeakably bad.

At 1/28/2009 9:51 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

I rate books pretty similar to the way Heather does.

At 1/28/2009 10:36 PM, Blogger Melanie J said...

I actually just use the guide they give you, defining what each star means. That way, I figure everyone's kind of using the stars the same way.

Uh, guess not! But 3 for me on Goodreads is liked it, but check it out from the library. 4 is buy it used, and 5 is pay full price and get it now!

At 1/29/2009 2:31 PM, Blogger lachish said...

I think it is a good thing to put your rating system in your profile. This comment is direct from mine:


I think I will tend to be quite picky when rating books I have read. In order to get a 5, the book must:

1. Be clean - No filth allowed.
2. Have "moral fibre" - It should teach me or improve my character.
3. Be well written.
4. Have a good story line and believable characters.
5. Be "memorable".

There are a ton of good books out there which will probably come very close to fitting within my criteria. Only my favorites will get a 5


So now that I have seen some good ideas here for the other star levels, maybe I will update my profile to be more clear.

Great idea to discuss this!

At 1/29/2009 2:33 PM, Blogger Charlie Moore said...

I usually will not rate a book I've read unless I can give it a 4 or 5, based on these numbers meaning I really enjoyed the book and I always try to define what made the story work for me. Most other good reviewers do this as well. What I will not do is give a bad review publicly. I don't believe it is necessary. All it does, in my opinion, is make an author look like they don't know what their doing (as with some readers that can spread beyond the book being reviewed). Instead, if I read something that I feel needs help I will try to find a way to tell the author in a more personal and private manner, such as through an email if I can get access to one or via a website if the author has one (here only if there is a way to do it privately).

One thing I do like to do is go to places like Amazon or Goodreads where reviews are plentiful and compare other reviews against my own for books I've reviewed just to get a sense of how a book can influence different people in different ways. It is interesting to see how different people come away from the same story.

Charlie Moore

At 1/30/2009 11:05 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I am totally with Stephanie Black's first one post by her daughter! That is how I rate books to a T. :D


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