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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rating a Book is Easy. Reviewing one is harder.


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If all I had to do was assign a number (1 - 5) and not actually write something constructive, I could rate several books a week. Rating is the easy part. Reviewing is more difficult. That's what I've learned from doing book reviews for a year now.

Why Rating is Easy


Rating is easy because I only have to ask myself two questions: was it written well? And, did I enjoy it? Answering "Yes" raises the rating. Answering "No" lowers it. Easy peasy.

Here's a table that simplifies the ratings for me. It doesn't cover everything that goes through my head. There are times a rating goes up or down based upon one of the answers to the two questions.

For example, I may have enjoyed a story but the writing prevented me from rating higher, or the opposite: it gets a higher rating because I answered "Yes" to one of the questions (but "No" to the other one). Just depends.

Five Stars Written extremely well. I really enjoyed it.
Four Stars Written well. I enjoyed it.
Three Stars Minor problems with the writing. Perhaps enjoyed it but with difficulty.
Two Stars Major problems with the writing. Probably couldn't finish the story.
One Star Horribly written. I couldn't finish the story.


Why Reviewing is Harder


Reviewing for me is harder because it involves critical thinking, which is probably why I'm slow to write my reviews.

Within just a few pages of a book, I already know what the rating will probably be. I'll know if it's in the 4 to 5 range, versus the 3 to 4 range. Sure, the rest of the story might ruin it for me, possibly lowering the rating some, but the strong beginning and overall writing quality will probably keep the story from losing more than one rating.

For example, if it starts as a 4 to 5 but gets worse near the end, it could be a 3 but may still end up being a 4. Just depends. I try to be fair with the rating.

My comments in the review are another matter. That's where I get to say what needs to be said. I may have enjoyed the story, but if I took some issues with it, I'll save it for the review, not the rating.

What do you think of my rating/reviewing style? (This is Mark, by the way, in case you wanted to read through some of my reviews to see what I'm talking about.)

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