THURSDAY RAMBLINGS IS A CASUAL FEATURE/MEME HERE ON JOSIE’S BOOK CORNER WHERE I PICK A TOPIC AND DISCUSS IT WITH YOU. THIS IS A CASUAL POST, FILLED WITH RAMBLING AND CHATTING! SO BASICALLY, WE ARE SIMPLY HAVING A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE TOPIC AT HAND!
Hello bookworms and welcome back to another Thursday Ramblings post! I’m excited to be sharing this discussion with you, as it came completely on a whim and I feel as though this is a good topic to address, especially for us book bloggers and readers who share our thoughts on books, whether through things like Goodreads or Instagram or Twitter or on a blog of our own!
Part of being a reader and book blogger (for me, and many of you), is reviewing books and giving them a rating out of 5 stars – or however you like to rate your books. We do it to express our thoughts, impressions, and reactions, we do it to further our connections with authors and publishers, and to give and share our honest opinions about upcoming releases – or backlisted books too, of course. Rating as reviewing a book, especially in a more professional setting like for those of us who blog, it requires us to take a step back, put our critical-thinking heads on and analyse a book that way.
I find that, for myself, I can easily do this with ARCs I’ve been given or received, for I know that they’ve been given to me for the purpose of presenting a more critical review, to ensure the honest sale of the book. However, when it comes to backlisted books, or books I read for my own entertainment that have been purchased out of my own pocket, it’s much harder to critically rate and review.
The real struggle in rating and reviewing a book, I think, is trying to separate your personal entertainment experience from the critical view of the elements within a novel. Sometimes, there are books that have been written mediocrely however when reading them, they pull you in and you enjoy it so much that you forget all about the elements of the story and rate it because it was so awesome and you loved it, and you find yourself talking like this:
I am definitely guilty of this! So I definitely think that sometimes, we can be so entertained by a book that we rate it higher than it deserves and in turn, we create a hype that may prove to make the book disappointing for others. As book bloggers, I think it is especially important to know and be aware of this, because the last thing we want to do is lead people to books with false expectations, am I right?
Of course, I am not saying that we should not rate a book 5 stars if it was really enjoyable and gave you all the feels. I believe we should give credit where it is due, and if a book has me totally wrapped up in it, aka The Throne of Glass series, to the point where I could spend days awake, reading the book from start to finish, then it deserves a good high rating.
My point here is, that, knowing this struggle, I think we need to approach the way we rate and review books in a different way.
A New Approach
Personally, I think that we should split up our book ratings into two sections: a critical rating and an entertainment rating. This way, we can acknowledge both sides of the book and therefore, generate a much more fair and proper rating and review for a book. But how exactly do these two different ratings work? Let me tell you.
The critical rating:
This rating is determined by the proper elements of the story and the quality to which they are written. This includes things like:
- plot: plot progression, the execution of the premise, pacing, structure
- writing: style, readability, world-building, flow
- characters: development, relatability, construction
Basically, it’s how well all of the novel elements are done. Are there any plot holes in the novel or does it flow seamlessly? Is the pacing off or slightly confusing? Are the characters written in a way that the reader can engage with them in some sort of way and in that, become immersed in the story? Is the writing easy to read, is it poetic and does it match with the theme and the story as a whole? These are questions you’ve got to look to when thinking of your critical rating, in my opinion.
The entertainment rating:
Alright, so this is where things get a little more abstract, but basically, this rating is how all the elements of the story made you feel. What is the engagement factor in this novel? Books that can evoke raw, powerful emotions and that can keep you engaged from start to finish, could receive a high entertainment rating. Sometimes a book can be written beautifully, but you just can’t seem to enjoy it, because we are all different and we have different tastes. This rating is much more subjective, while the above rating is purely objective.
With your entertainment rating, when translated into a review, you’d talk about themes in the book, and how the book made you feel. You’d possibly talk about the characters you loved the most, your OTP, etc. It’s difficult to really distinguish what goes where, but generally, this is what I think it encompasses.
Why should we use this approach?
Personally, I think this approach would help me review books much more fairly, and it would minimise the risk of over-hyping. Just like a science experiment, you have to have more than one result to get the best outcome, and having two ratings and then bringing them together, would equal a much fairer review and rating all around. This approach might also make it easier for some of you to actually write a review, because I know that sometimes, writing reviews can be a total challenge because – where do you begin? What do you talk about? This could help give you structure to your reviews.