A few days ago, I was talking to Boquinha (of Sushi and Pizza) in the comment section of my review for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. She pointed out that I must be a tough critic because I said I enjoyed the book and then gave it three stars out of five.
And it made me think. I probably do rate books strangely. Let’s look at my Goodreads account, where I found this cool feature that categorizes your books into any number of ways!
This graph displays all forty-six books read so far in 2014 and I am indeed fond of that three-star rating. Over half the books belong to that group. But does that mean I don’t like most of what I read? Not at all. I consider three-star books to be perfectly good, enjoyable reads.
Not perfect. Perfectly good. So, they didn’t blow my mind but they did provide a nice diversion for an hour or two. Most of the books I’ve read (throughout my life, not just during this year) are probably three-star books. I think most books on the planet are three-star books – entertaining and moderately thought-provoking, but neither extraordinary nor awful.
Maybe that does make me a tough critic. You’ll notice that very few books earned four stars, and there is only one five-star book to date. However, you’ll also notice that there are nearly equal amounts of two-star and four-star books. If book ratings begin at zero, then two point five is the halfway point between zero and five – and so this category makes up the “did not enjoy” stack of books.
Goodreads itself helps with this: Hovering over each star brings up a different rating description and two is “it was OK” while three is “I liked it.” A subtle but important difference.
Furthermore, you’ll notice that there are no one-star books! Basically, I did like most of what I’ve read these past few months. I only add books to my “read in 2014” list if I actually finished them (and they aren’t rereads, because I’m weird that way) and when a book is so terrible that it would likely get one star, I just don’t bother finishing it. Who would?
And maybe I should add that if you still think I’m too picky, this whole thing is further complicated by Goodread’s stubborn refusal to let me rate books using half-stars! In book reviews posted on my blog, sometimes I use whole stars (3/5) and sometimes I use half-stars (3.5/5). Again, it’s a small difference, but it matters to me. It’s a way of saying, “This book deserves more than ‘good’ but it didn’t quite reach the point of ‘a cut above most books.'”
And there you have it. I like my little three-star ratings. And my four-star ratings. And that lonely five-star rating. Basically, I like anything as long as it’s not two stars or below.
If the rating is one lone star, does that mean the book belongs to the state of Texas? Three stars mean I appreciated the story so don’t fret, minions and blog-readers, if someday – when we’re all awesome published authors doing awesome things – I give your books the same rating.