– Kelley & Asti
I Guard My 5 Star Ratings
Do any of you take a long time in deciding your ratings for books? Because I swear I spend more time doing that than I do in writing the actual review. I’m constantly going back and forth on them, especially when it comes to those half stars. If I DO use the half star, then I have to figure out if I should round up or down on Goodreads. Then I start wondering if anyone actually cares about the rating, or if it really reflects my feelings and opinions on a book exactly. And I turn it into this big, huge deal that takes up so much of my time. It especially takes me a long time when it comes to those amazing books that I’m not sure what to rate: 4.5 rounded up or 5 star all-time fave shelf? And that leads me to this guest post and a question for you all: do you guard your 5 stars? Because I do!
and by galaxy, I mean my bookshelf. :D
So when I first started blogging, I generally rated right after I finished a book. It was my immediate thoughts + all the feelings from a good ending. You know how it is. It’s like a book high. One that makes you see a book through rose-colored glasses. But after a few hours, or even days (hello book hangovers, amirite?), those highs wear down until you’re left thinking a lot more clearly about what you just read. At least for me. When I used to rate straightaway, my feelings would either stay the same or they would change a little bit more negatively after I would start analyzing the book for my review. And most of the time, those initial impressions after finishing were so much HIGHER than they should have been. But I had already rated it, and was I allowed to change that upon further reflection? Yes, but if I did that, then SO MANY books would have had different ratings, so I kept them all. But I changed my style of reviewing.
There are so many books I read in 2013, and even 2014, that have higher ratings than I would have given them had I read them now. It’s why I don’t rate until AFTER I review a book anymore. For example: Divergent? I was OBSESSED with it at the time, and you know, I thought I had loved Allegiant. But now every time I think back on it, I just want to yell at myself for giving it 4 stars because I don’t feel that way about it anymore. When I rated right after finishing, I didn’t let myself think critically about the book. I didn’t analyze it, or look further into my feelings. I didn’t ask myself: okay, but did I actually love it that much or am I just in that book high still or did the hype get me? Upon more reflection, I can actually step back and let myself THINK instead of just feel. So many of the ratings, especially the 5 star ones, ended up being basically inflated. It was honestly what I felt when I rated it, but after time passed and I read more (and better) books, I started to wish I’d been less careless with them.
I think a LARGE part of why my reviewing and rating process has changed is because I’ve gotten more picky with books. When I read in high school, I tended to have genre phases, such as adult mystery, inspirational fiction, a stint in YA that didn’t last very long. But when I started blogging, it opened up my eyes to all the books I’d been missing, and all the ones I never would have found without this. I started gobbling up everything within reach, and through that, I became aware of typical tropes or character arcs or plotlines that didn’t sit well with me. I’ve figured out what does and doesn’t work for me (though sometimes that changes anyway, but that all depends on how well an author gets the job done, so to speak). And through that, I’ve become a lot more particular on calling a book a favorite. It has to be really special to get a 5 star from me.
And this all brings me back to a point (because I know I do have one, somewhere in here) I was trying to make: I guard my 5 star ratings. Sure, ratings probably aren’t the most important or biggest factor in deciding what books to read or buy. And I don’t know if many people pay that much attention to them. They’re more for ME than anything else. I know I don’t have to be so hard on myself with ratings, but when it comes to wanting them to reflect how I felt about the book, I want them to be perfect. Does that sound stupid? And with 5 stars, I don’t wanna just give them out to any book I loved. I want those to be the books that truly matter to me. The ones that have changed me in ways I didn’t think was possible. The ones I will hold close to my heart and reread over and over again. The ones that deserve all the stars in the night sky because they’re that special to me.