Around the end of May I stopped adding a rating to my reviews. I was planning on doing a post on it at the time, but never got around to it. So I figured that it could work as an end of year post as I reflect back on changes to my blog.
A couple of years ago, I read a blog post about steering away from number ratings (I don’t remember on what blog). It’s been sitting in the back of my head for a while, but for the longest time I’ve been weary of making the change. Number ratings forced me to truly evaluate how much I liked a book; they forced me to be decisive. I couldn’t simply be ambivalent about everything I read, but had to stop and weigh pros and cons. You could say this process helped me become a better blogger, helped me set my thoughts straight before I began the review. I also felt the rating set the tone for the review, letting readers know at a glance if I’d be praising the book or tearing it apart. And these are important, but the benefits of not having a rating are far greater.
I dropped ratings because it stopped being about how much I liked a book and more of a way to categorizes similar reads. I always felt that when deciding on a rating, I was just slotting it into a position. Did I like it as much as I liked a book I previously gave four stars too? or maybe as much as I liked a book I gave three and a half stars too? were thoughts that ran through my head. Because how can you choose between ‘liked it’ and ‘really liked it’? What do those categories even mean? What about books that fall between the two? Where do you rank them?
Because it’s hard to break down literature into simple ratings. Books aren’t toys that you can arrange by size. They are complex creations that both elicit an emotional and academic response. Should you rate purely based on how much you liked the book or based on it’s literary value? I aimed for a mix between the two but at times ended up frustrated and confused. My reviews lean towards the analytical, for I find enjoyment in dissecting themes and plots. But my emotional response to the book is arguably the most important part. And these thoughts only come through in a written review; a rating is mathematically and cold.
When it comes to reviews, it’s truly the thoughts that count. I frequently look at one star reviews to see exactly what it is about a book that someone didn’t like. It’s the thoughts and opinions that are important. The ratings don’t help me decide what to read, it’s the words that do.
So I decided to stop including ratings in my reviews, choosing instead to let the words speak for themselves.