This summer, Carole is hosting a Summer Reading program . . . to bring back that read-what-you-love, childish-pleasure “thing” to our reading. There’s no particular structure to Carole’s program, just plenty of thinking – and talking – about reading and books.
For me, Carole’s focus on reading has got my own gears moving, considering what I like best about books. She’s inspired me to . . . unpack my own library.
Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend, and she asked me to recommend a good summer book. Daisy Jones and the Six, I said. She was a little put off. But you didn’t like that book, she said. Huh? I said. It’s a great book; lots of fun.
But you only gave it 3 stars, she said.
Aha! That was it.
The star-rating system. . .
So easy. Read a book, give it a star! (Or 5.)
Rating our reads is fun. It’s a quick way to respond to what we just read — and it sends a signal to other readers about how we felt about a book. The thing is, though, well . . . those star ratings aren’t really all that useful (to anyone but the reader) . . . because they’re so arbitrary. And they can actually signal the wrong message — like when my friend thought I didn’t like Daisy Jones and The Six when I really did.
We each have our own way of assigning stars. It’s our system, after all, and we get to decide what those stars mean to us. But the meaning behind those stars may not . . . align . . . between individual readers.
So I thought it might be helpful if I explained my own star system. So you’ll be able to understand what it means when I rate a book 3 stars . . . vs 5 stars.
First, I start every book I read . . . at a 3. Why? Because I’m not looking for 5-star reads when I pick up a book. I’m looking for 3-star reads. Which, to me, are good, solid, entertaining, and totally worth my time.
If the book happens to have great characters or an intriguing storyline or is beautifully written or presents a unique point of view . . . well. Add a star!
And if the book makes me gasp or if it is incredibly clever or unusually beautiful, or . . . if it ends up “rearranging” the way I think in some way? It will get my 5-star rating.
But. On the other end of the spectrum, if the pace is tedious or the characters don’t act beliveably or if the storyline is predictable and mundane? 2 stars.
That’s how it goes for me. 5-star books are quite rare. 4-star books are really good. 3-star books are completely enjoyable. And 2-stars? Not so much for me. (I rarely give a book a 1-star rating, but that’s only because I usually don’t get far with them.)
That’s just my rating system.
I’m stingy with my stars. But I am consistent.
I think it’s good to think through our own rating systems once in a while, but I think it’s even more important to understand that each of us have our own, individual rating systems. It’s not a standard, one-size-fits-all kind of thing. When I know that a reader-friend gives 5 stars to every book she likes, I get it. Her 5 stars let me know she really enjoyed the book, and that it hit all her ‘good-book” buttons.
We read our own way.
We rate books our own way.
And that’s what makes the world interesting! There are absolutely no “right ways” or “wrong ways” to apply our stars. We each get to decide how we like to use them.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is . . . don’t judge a book by its . . . star rating!
(I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on the fun that is Daisy Jones and the Six.)
How about you? Do you give stars to the books you read? And if you do, what makes a book a 5-star read for you?