Friday, January 13, 2012

Why I Ditched My Rating System

Dear Future Self,


I have so many questions I want to ask you. Where do you work? Do you still write? How do you dress now? Are you going out with someone? Most of all, did Elena end up with Damon in The Vampire Diaries? I HAVE TO KNOW.

Just kidding. Well, not really.

I have a couple of things I want to discuss with you, but, before I do that, I just want to say that I hope you’re still posting on this blog and reading classics. They’re good stuff, you know.

If you read all my previous posts, you’re probably wondering why I ditched my rating system. I used to grade books from a scale of 1-5, one for the utterly craptastic, and five for the oh-my-god-I’ve-been-waiting-for-this-book-all-my life novels. There’s actually a very logical (and hopefully sane) explanation for that.

Before the end of 2011, I decided to get more personal on this blog. Instead of writing “reviews,” I wanted to start writing “journal entries.” I know it sounds cheesy, but I’m actually doing this for you. If I continued writing my reviews, you probably wouldn’t have anything to cringe at or be embarrassed about, but you wouldn’t remember the books you read at 19 or 20 very well, either.

You’re going to remember that some of the books you read were well-written, but that would be it. You would probably forget that you saw yourself in a fictional spinster from the 1940s or that you wanted to do violence to Lucas Corso from The Club Dumas with a blunt object—preferably a gigantic piece of frozen ham.

Cringe all you want at my somewhat na├»ve and sometimes cynical thoughts on the classics, but I hope, deep down, you’ll still recognize the person writing this post, this letter to you. I hope you’re well and happy, and, if you’re not, I’m sure you will be soon. Most of all, I hope you’re still in contact with the wonderful people you met through this blog, the ones whose thoughts sometimes align or contradict your own, the ones who love books more than you do.

Sincerely yours,

Current You


Trish said...

I much prefer writing (and reading) casual journal entry type reviews. Because what I really want to know and remember is how a book made me or the reviewer feel. The story and character development and plot points are interesting but I can find those in any SparksNotes or newspaper review.

Reading Rambo said...

"I much prefer writing (and reading) casual journal entry type reviews. "

THIS. I agree. Go for it, madam.

Ben said...

I abolished my rating system for books too, after reading THE CRYING OF LOT 49 by Thomas Pynchon. Blew my fucking mind and yet I didn't really understand what was going on, so I felt that rating it anything from 2% to 99% was unfair to a)Pynchon and b) everybody else on Earth (me included). So I say what I have to say and not place myself above writers like I was a goddamn teacher or something.

No need to categorize your posts in "reviews" or "journal entries", I'm just happy when you post because it's honest, heartfelt, smart and it's not caught somewhere in an Academic cloud. Does that even make sense?

everybookandcranny said...

I also did away with my rating system a while back. I still give books star ratings on goodreads just for purposes of categorization but I don't rate books on my blog. I decided this after I found that sometimes I appreciate a book for this or that reason but maybe don't fully enjoy the reading experience. How is one to rate such a book? Do you rate only on enjoyment? Or only on appreciation or literary/historical value? And like yours, my blog has evolved to have more of a journalistic feel as well, which isn't really conducive to rigid rating systems.

Zibilee said...

I actually love that you've gotten more personal in your reviews, as it lets me get to know you a little better, and lets me see that we are actually a lot alike. I only rate books on Amazon, Library Thing, or Good Reads, and not my blog. Ratings are just a little difficult for me to sort out, because I could love almost everything about a book, but hate one plot point that would drive the rating down to the ground. Also, we all have different tastes, and what may be abysmal for me may be a great read for someone else, and I don't want to discourage that. This was a very cool post, Darlyn. I hope your future self enjoys it!

Andi said...

Right on! Great post, and I love that you're getting more personal with your entries.

Megs said...

I LOVE your blog's face, and I feel like I know you just from reading your posts over the past couple of you're doing something right. Your future self will heartily approve.

mooderino said...

I don't really think it matters how you do it, as long as you put down what how the book affected you and your various thoughts on the story.

Personally I don't really pay much attention to ratings, in any form. Is a four star book 20% better than a three star book?

It's usually a line or a paragraph that captures the impact fo the book on the reader, and that's the thing I like to know.

Moody Writing
The Funnily Enough

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

Like everyone else, I like the more personal entries and it's something I am considering for my blog. Ratings are so subjective anyway, we all read based on our personal experiences.

Trisha said...

Ditto to what everyone else is saying. :)

Jillian said...

Totally agree! Write for youself -- write yourself into your posts. You'll remember that far more than ratings, one day. I started out my blog with ratings but got rid of them after the first year. Enjoy the change! It's freeing! :)

Audra said...

Loved this whole post. As usual, you're entertaining and pointed and it's awesome. I've given up rankings for my blog but not the hardcore review format, and I can so appreciate why you've changed from reviewing to journaling about your reading -- a book sticks because it has touched you in a way, and it's that completely subjective experience that I love. So -- I'm heading this way, too, and I think I'm going to cut back on my reviews so I can do more subjective, personal reviews. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.


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