I have a question for you, my book-reading friends 😉
I use LibraryThing to keep track of my books, and among other things it allows me to rate books on a 5-star scale (half-stars allowed). I am trying to come up with method to my madness as far as assigning stars goes. This is what I have so far:
No stars – Did not finish the book. Because maybe it’s wonderful and all, but I just couldn’t get into it. Or it could be horrible, but once again, I did not bother to finish. Who knows. For example, I could not finish Justine Larbalestier’s “How to Ditch Your Fairy.” The book got good reviews from others, it just wasn’t what I like.
1/2 star – Awful. Finished, but no idea why. Perhaps it was a willpower-building exercise, or I am a glutton for punishment.
One star – Very bad (F). Writing is horrible, plot non-existent, protagonists inspire hatred. Somewhere, trees weep at the horrible use their brethren and sistren were put to.
Two stars – Bad (D). Writing is clunky, plot holes abound, protagonists are not likable. Won’t seek anything by this author out unless I am desperate, and books recommended by this author are automatically suspect. Case in point: “Undead and Unwelcome” by MaryJanice Davidson. The first book in the series (“Undead and Unwed”) was a 4-star for me, the second (“Undead and Unemployed”) a 3-star, and the rest are in the 2-star category.
Three stars – Average (C). Serviceable. Decent writing. Was enjoyable, time went by quickly, but I am not seized with desire to run out and buy the author’s back list. Will check out other books by the author from the library, or pick them up at Half-Price books. A lot of the romance books I read fall into this category.
Four stars – Good (B). Would recommend to others. Want them on my bookshelf at home, and might buy some of these books at Amazon.com in paperback if I can’t find them at Half-Price books (in particular those that verge into 4.5 star category). Most of J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series books would go there. Also most of Terry Pratchett books. Ditto Sharon Shinn, Louis McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, and Connie Willis.
Five stars – Excellent (A). If I were told to pick books to take with me to a desert island, these are the ones I would take. Often, the authors are the ones whose new hard-cover books I would pre-order at Amazon.com. I am thinking of limiting the number of 5-star books to 100, to promote selectivity. After all, the books that didn’t quite make the cut can have the 4.5 stars rating. Currently, Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine” and “The Blue Sword” are in that category, as well as Guy Gavriel Kay’s “Tigana,” “A Song for Arbonne,” and “The Fionavar Tapestry” trilogy. Also Terry Pratchett’s “Small Gods” and the Pratchett/Gaiman collaboration “Good Omens.” And C.S. Friedman’s “Coldfire” trilogy.
What do you think? Other suggestions on how to approach the ratings? What makes a book Excellent, Good, Average, Bad, or Awful for you? Where’s the line between Good/Excellent, and Bad/Awful? Go forth and comment!