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Maio 14, 2009, 7:50 am

On a different site, I read a post by someone who gave a bok fewer stars because she thought it would be one type of book, but it was different than she expected. Not a bad book.. but..?

How on earth can she rate by her own misjudgment instead of the books merits? What are your thoughts?

I wonder how common this practice might be....

Maio 14, 2009, 11:22 am

I suspect it's more common than we think.

I can see rating a book low because you didn't like it, but a lot of times, I can see that a book is a good book, even though I don't like it. You can't lower a book's rating just because it's not what you want it to be. (okay, I suppose you can, but you shouldn't)

Funny, I had a similar experience on those lines last night. I was looking for a book to read, so I let my son play the random number game. The book that came up was Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. I read about 30 pages, then knocked on his door and said "I can't read this book." He said "It's a great book--why?" And I had to agree--it's a great book. But I know how it ends, I know how the Indians were treated (and it was horrible), and I just didn't think I could stand to read 400 pages about it. I have the right to not read a book, but I can't condemn it because of that.

My own personal rant...

Maio 14, 2009, 4:57 pm

I guess that is my point.. all of us can recognize a good book when we find one ..and if we don't like it.. we can say, this is a well written book, not my cup of tea, but...


Maio 23, 2009, 12:41 pm

For me it isn't always that I didn't like it, I just might not be in the mood for it at the time.

Editado: Maio 23, 2009, 1:07 pm

Hm, yes, I guess it depends. If you feel misled in some way you might...

As an example: I have Dutch Art and Architecture 1600-1800 by Jakob Rosenberg (& others). It gives an adequate introduction to Dutch 17th century painting and in that sense it's not a bad book. But it deals with Dutch sculpture and architecture of the same period as if it was an afterthought - and the same goes for anything 18th century. So it simply doesn't live up to its title. If I ever get round to rating that book, I might very well lower the rating because of that fact.

Correction: It's seems I already have rated it two stars - meaning "disappointing".

Maio 23, 2009, 1:39 pm

I always try to rate a book on its merit first, and then say if I liked it or not.

This is going to be he case with The Angel's Game I think.
It is without a doubt a well written and interesting book.
Still mulling over if I like it or not..

Maio 25, 2009, 11:44 am

Kath, I just had a thought about this (which I shared as I thought it on my 75 Challenge thread). It may not be possible to rate a book solely on merit if the book touches something in your life experience. I read a book last week about the first century of the St. Louis Zoo, written by a local columnist whose work I generally enjoy. The Zoo has been a very large part of my growing up, and the memories that I have of it loom large. I found the book to be dull and poorly written. But someone who had never experienced the Zoo growing up might find the stories interesting and might feel that the book was written in a better style than my analysis of it.

Just another observation...

Maio 25, 2009, 12:36 pm

I have to agree. I read a book for vine..

The Mercy Papers: A Memoir of Three Weeks
By: Robin Romm

This book was escrutiating for me to read, as it hit so close to home.
I did try to star it by merit, but I have never been sure If I managed that.
I hated the story and I hated the main character.

But there it is.. I still believe that we have to try. We are only
human and we are a sum total of our experiences. This works for us and against us too, at times.

I think that we especially have to be careful about low rating a book that just doesn't live up to what we thought it was about, or what we expected it to be. I have that issue with the Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I love her books.. all of them.. except this one. It was said to be a ghost story, haunted home, etc. I did not get what I expected in any way, and so I wonder if my rating was fair to the book and the author, or if I was just showing my own disappointment.

The OP was a result of someone blatantly posting elsewhere that they thought the book was about one thing.. it was about another. this led to low star rating from them, which I don't believe is fair. My question to that poster went unanswered. It annoyed ( and still annoys) me to think about that.

I guess I am just saying that I hope that I.. and most of us, can be more fair when we are reviewing. Try harder? or learn to put our preconceived notions, mis judgments that are our own out of the picture. That is what I would hope for were I the author.


Maio 25, 2009, 2:05 pm

Amen, Sister! We can only do our best.

I agree, though, that a low rating needs to be because it was a poorly-written book (even if only in our humble opinion) and not because it didn't meet our expectations. Unless our expectations were of a well-written book! ; )

Maio 25, 2009, 2:07 pm


Maio 25, 2009, 2:09 pm


I may see the St Louis Zoo soon..
I am visiting my son and his wife there next weekend :)

Maio 25, 2009, 9:03 pm

I highly recommend it! You can't beat it for the price (okay, parking is pricey, but the zoo is free). But DON'T buy any books by Patricia Corrigan as souvenirs!
And just for the record, if you're in the area, pop over to the Convention Center in St. Charles--it's the weekend of our annual Library Book Fair! On Sunday, books are $5 a BAG! The rest of the weekend, $.50 - $2.00. Worth the trip over the bridge...

Maio 27, 2009, 7:06 am

ack! just found this... I am sending the info to myself....
but I would have to ship them home...

I would love to go!!!

He said something about a ren faire..?


Maio 27, 2009, 5:11 pm

you betcha:

it's in Wentzville, further west than St. Charles. Practically in my brother's back yard!

A little further west in Hermann is the last weekend of Maifest...

Quite a weekend in our humble neck of the woods.

Jun 16, 2009, 7:55 pm

>How on earth can she rate by her own misjudgment instead of the books merits? What are your thoughts?

This is such an interesting question. I confess that if I can't give a book five stars, I don't star-rate it. I recognize that this doesn't necessarily help folks, but it just always seems to me that not every book is for every person, and the fact that a book wasn't a great fit for me doesn't mean it won't be for someone else.

Admittedly, I'm an author, and so I have a pretty personal idea of how the ratings feel, and how hard it is to write a book.

And I guess I was trained well by my mom, who always told me if you can't say anything nice...

Jun 17, 2009, 6:54 am

hmm. Mark says I am a tough reviewer. Yet i do try to keep in mind that there is a person behind the book. I will be honest, here. I do not write my reviews for writers. I write for readers. My ratings... a three is a good solid read. It means I am glad I read it. Five stars is extraordinary, and frankly, few books get a five from me. Four stars is a stellar read...

I feel that when I review, it is my job to let other readers know how the book felt to me. If the characters were simply unlikeable, or if they were thin and silly.. I say so. I do not review according to the writing, or expecting each book to be great literature. How boring would that be?And I am certainly not qualified to do that. I write according to how I liked the book. An iffy book can be redeemed by a great ending. It seems that great endings are difficult to achieve.. good endings, yes... but great? Not so much.

I would never, ever rate according to my own misunderstanding. I rate according to how I see the books entertainment factor, or enjoyment factor. Not all books are entertaining, but the most serious of books ca be enjoyable. I do not usually like most chic lit. There is some very good chic lit out there, and if I sometimes want a light read, that is where I go. I rate according to how much I liked it. AND I do like chic lit now and then.. seek it out for restful reading.. relaxing reading...

Jun 17, 2009, 1:24 pm

Kath, you should try MWC's The Wednesday Sisters. I'm not trying to brown-nose, but I considered that to be a chick-lit book that wasn't as annoying as most of them seem to be. I don't like smarmy women in person, and definitely NOT in my literature, but she did a very good job of making them more "people-like."

Jun 17, 2009, 1:59 pm

I did read that one, in fact. AND liked it ~ I don't think it was an ARC... I bought it! :)

3..5 stars. I was very glad that I read it . Ditto re:smarmy ... women or men.
I gave it to my sister, and she has it on her TBR pile, still.

Editado: Jun 19, 2009, 10:14 am

Picking up on BarkingMatt's "misled" aspect -- it's one of my biggest reading pet peeves (and I do downgrade star ratings and explain why in my review) when the title, flap copy, or marketing materials give me an inaccurate expectation of the book.

Two come immediately to mind. Five Men Who Broke My Heart includes nearly as much about the author's relationship with her father and husband (who aren't in the five) as about reconnecting with five former boyfriends. And Amy Dickinson acknowledged that she ended up removing most of the passages about her extended female family from The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, A Daughter, and the People Who Raised Them to protect their privacy. Bah!

Jun 24, 2009, 2:06 pm

My star ratings are similar to mckaits--3 is a good solid read that I have no hesitation in recommending. 5 stars are books of a lifetime, and I rarely give those. 4 stars are books that are outstanding and that I think will still be read 15 or 20 years from now.

I have a difficult time giving stars to 'classics,' because who am I to rate such books? I think I can only state my personal reaction. I recently rated Pnin by Nabokov with 'only' 3 1/2 stars, and was asked why, since I liked it, I rated it so low. In that case, I was thinking of Nabokov's Pale Fire which I read the month before (for the 3rd time), which is a 5 star book for me, and which had similar themes.

Overall, I don't think you can rely on a star system in deciding whether a book is for you or not. I think you need to read the review or comments that are made to get a feel for what the book is about and whether it's something you want to read.

And I'll admit to occasionally giving a book a lower rating because it was not what I expected. But that's always stated in my review, so that whoever reads it can take my rating with a grain of salt.

Jun 27, 2009, 2:23 am

Thank you, tloeffler and mckait. :-)

Editado: Jun 29, 2009, 4:36 pm

I try to be fair and judge books on their merits, but "merits" can be a judgment call, depending on the genre.

I was pretty tough on Time Bandit, the book written by two of the captains on the TV show "Deadliest Catch" and a pro writer. You could say it was based on expectations. I've read other books in that kind of "celebrity with pro writer help" genre, and the best of them, you can almost "hear" the celebrity saying what's written as you read -- the "pro" keeps his own personality and style out of it, and focuses on organizing the book. No way, in this case. I just couldn't imagine either of the Hillstrands telling the story the way it was written, except for a few phrases where their personality peeked through. It was just too flowery, melodramatic, whatever, for those two earthy guys. I just couldn't wrap my mind around the book, because the content didn't mesh with the way it was told.

Jun 29, 2009, 5:15 pm

Yeah, I think my point is that it depends on the genre as well. If it's literature and you don't particularly like it even though it's well written, that's an entirely different thing than non-fiction that simply doesn't deliver what it is supposed to.