Loony’s Musings: have your book ratings changed?

Or in other words, are you tougher than you used to be, or more of a softie? Have you gone from ALL BOOKS ARE AWESOME…

…to NOT IMPRESSED…

image

Or vice versa.

Here’s my answer. 

I’m quite sure that when I was a young kid, I liked every book I picked up. I read everything without knowing what a genre was (or how to say it, because it’s a weird word). I read fantasy and contemporary and sci-fi and adventure and books about mermaids and books about dragons and books about ballet shoes and books about swallows and amazons (props if you know what this last one is).

These were the first books I was introduced to, and I loved all of them. I was definitely not a harsh critic.

Fast forward a few years. 

(okay, yeah, this was a weird gif to use, I admit. But I wanted a time lapse one and this was the coolest. Just….how do people gymnastic? It’s crazy. Off topic)

If you fast forwarded a few years from that “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME” time, you reach the age of “EVERYTHING SUCKS.” Okay, not everything. But if something was part of dominant culture, I wanted out. I hated Twilight for completely no reason. I didn’t like many books, mostly because I hadn’t really discovered YA, and drifted between adult and MG.

But now? Now I think I’m more sensitive to the amount of effort that goes into writing a book, and more empathetic to the author, and more aware of the fact that reading is ridiculously subjective. 

My average rating on Goodreads is 3.87. Which I feel is pretty high, but it could be skewed because I’ve included all my favourite books from over the years. I give a lot of books four stars – and that’s fine by me! I’d give all books five stars if they were all good enough. And to some people, they’ll be more than five stars. They’ll be the whole universe.

Hey look at that, Emily’s getting poetic.

Oh, by the way, this is not telling me you should be nicer in your reviews. I like negative reviews as much as the next person – I honestly believe we have the power to shape the way we tell stories by saying what we like and dislike – by saying the tropes that are exhausted, the things we need more of, and the things that work. There are a TON of different ways of reviewing out there – I like both the softies and the not-so-softies. If I ever publish a book, I will welcome both. Yes, I will probably sob my eyes out when I read negative reviews, but as long as they’re not bashing me TOO much I will probably take what they say on board.

All that said, I’m definitely more aware now of things like cliched writing, pace that drags along, under-developed characters and over-used tropes. But there is always, ALWAYS something I enjoy in a book.

So what about you? Have your ratings changed over time? 

 

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32 thoughts on “Loony’s Musings: have your book ratings changed?

  1. Yessss. *sobs* I remember the good ol’ days when I just loved lots of books and READING WAS ALWAYS A JOY. Now, ugh, I’ve just run into SO many bad ones. I wonder if you can actually read too much?? I mean…I hope you can’t, because heck that’d be the death of me. My average rating is 3.68 on Goodreads. Which I guess isn’t too bad. I have to remind myself that I read a LOT, so obviously I’m going to stumble on MORE books I don’t like then when I only read like, 2 books a month in my wild and woolly youth.

    • I guess reading the bad books is all part and parcel of being a book blogger – so worth it to have All The Parcels, though 😛 I always surprise myself when reading books that have had negative reviews…pretty often I actually like them. Weird. But yeah, I read more now too, and I’m smarter than my midget self (well, hopefully). Wild and woolly youth, I love it 😛

  2. Oh, yes! (Unfortunately :() But I remember when literally every single book I picked up were amazing, to die for, had such talented authors, I could relate to every single character, etc. I still, of course, I have those books that I love but some books I used to LOVE I now think “Oh my word, they’re honestly not all that great!” I’m kind of glad I’ve toughened up a bit, though, because I know the difference between a great book and a good book. 🙂

  3. I was actually wondering this a while ago. I feel like I’ve always been a softie. There was a time where I liked everything I read. Then a few books kind of ruined that record, but I still read anything and everything. Regardless of genre. But I was still pretty lenient. Then I started this whole book blogging thing and I my ratings got a little lower… I’ve always been able to rant about a book I don’t like, but the first time I did a real rant-y review was in January. And I haven’t done one since, although I’m going through this awful book right now so I might do a second one. I don’t know what it is with me, I find it really hard not to finish a book, which is probably why I’m so lenient. But I don’t really mind either way. My average rating on Goodreads is actually 3.7. I got really paranoid that it was too high, but I don’t care anymore. The whole point of this is to be honest, right? I certainly don’t love every book, but I’m no more picky than I was when I was younger. If it entertains me, it’s done it’s job. If it pissed me off, I will rant. That’s about it (:

    • This actually occurred to me when I was talking to someone about Allegiant, and how much I disliked it. And I thought…wow, I probably would have loved it as a kid. I’m pretty easy with my ratings too – and like you, I VERY rarely DNF a book, because…I don’t know, maybe because I’ve started it and have to get to the end? I had a stage where I thought my ratings were too high as well, but it doesn’t bother me much anymore, 1) because positivity is great and 2) My actual review says more about my thoughts than the rating. I hope! If I had fun reading it, regardless of things being wrong with it, I’m a very happy reader. 🙂

  4. Well, I’m generally very soft, because like you said, I know what goes into writing a novel. The only way you know I dont like a book is because I don’t read the entire thing. But lately, I’ve been looking at character development and things like that.

    PS. I’m very sad that you hated Twilight…. I just discovered it and I’m infatuated with it

    • Well, exactly, and when it’s an author I’ve interacted with on Twitter especially, I know the hard work they’ve put into their novel. I know I do, and I’m not even published!

      I’ll probably reread Twilight one of these days…eventually…although it might be hard to keep an objective opinion after everything that’s been said about it.

  5. I’m exactly like you. All of our stages sync up. xD I think I’m little harsher though. Being a writer has made me more critical and harder to impress. Sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll ruin reading for myself, but that’s pretty much impossible.

    I just looked at my goodreads rating and it says 4.0. o.o To be fair, I haven’t review that many new books. I’ve mostly just been rating books I loved when I was a kid.

    • Haha, we’re book twins! I like how you’re the opposite, being a writer, and in some ways I NOTICE poor writing than I used to as well. But like I said, I do try to find positive things to say – it’s not like it would have been published if everyone hated it! Your rating of 4 makes sense if you’re rating childhood books – I think that’s a large part of why mine’s so high 😛

  6. This is a really interesting topic! I am actually pretty similar to what you said — I used to rate pretty much everything I read a four or five stars, depending on how much I liked it, but over the last few years that has changed A LOT. At current, my Goodreads average star rating is 3.10, but I remember a time when it was much much higher than that.

    I think, personally, a lot of it has to do with me and how my reading tastes have changed — eg, I only used to read fantasy and whatnot, but now I’ve branched out into other different genres (contemporary, in particular) and that’s changed how I view the books I read. Another reason being that I’ve become HEAPS more nit-picky as a reader, and as I learn more about writing, the more I begin to see the flaws in books. But I completely agree with you when you say that there is always something to like about a book. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kara!

      My reading tastes have also changed from predominantly fantasy to predominantly contemporary – although since becoming a book blogger I’ve read a BUNCH of different genres, which is a lot of fun. I don’t consider myself nit-picky, but like I said, there are so many different ways to review books – if there wasn’t, blogs wouldn’t be very interesting 😛

  7. Just looking at my reading challenges from last year to this year I can see how much I’ve changed. I had so many favourites last year, something around 20 and I took about 3 months out of reading, but this year, I’ve read more books and had less favourites by about a 5th and I can see I’ve changed. I’m much more picky now; that character I don’t like, it affects my enjoyment, those 50 dry pages in the middle of the book, it affects my enjoyment, that unrealistic romance, it affects my enjoyment and I just refuse to give 5 stars to something that isn’t faultless or hasn’t won my heart, I just can’t. Maybe I’m cruel, but that’s my method 🙂

    • And hey, there’s nothing wrong with that! Variety is the spice of life etc. We need our softie reviewers, and we need our tough reviewers, and I love reading ALL of them. Before buying or even borrowing a book, I always read a huge variety of reviews to know if I’ll like it or not. Well, okay, not always – sometimes it’s impossible if it’s an ARC. But I like seeing what people have to say, and comparing it to what I thought of a book 🙂

  8. They definitely have, when I was younger and YA wasn’t really a genre I would pick anything up at the library that interested me, no matter what genre it was. Funnily enough not that I think about it, I gravitated towards YA contemporaries even though that wasn’t a genre then, and action/sci-fi ones. Anyway, I looked at my average rating on GR the other day too and was pleasantly surprised, I think it’s 3.81 or so? I think it’s because now I’m a bit more aware of what types of books I love and well, prefer to read books I know I’ll enjoy other than ones I’ll dislike. Great post Emily!

    • You make a good point about choosing books to read that you know you’ll enjoy. I try to do the same when requesting books or borrowing from the library. I know I’m not a paranormal fan, so I don’t make it a point to read that genre if I’m just going to give every book a bad review – that’s not really fair.

  9. I think that I’m a bit tougher now. I uses to buy all my books so I made sure I was picking something I’d love before purchasing, but now that I’m blogging, I don’t love all the books I’m being sent for review. Most of them are great but others…eh.

    • It’s weird because I think I’m the opposite. Before book blogging I chose books kind of blindly, not having read other people’s reviews. But now I can read opinions of people I trust and decide what to request/read. Of course this doesn’t always work if I’m sent a copy I didn’t request, but it’s definitely helped 🙂

  10. Hahaha, omg. My ratings have definitely changed! I used to be a lot like you, all of my ratings being 5s and 4s. Lol I was really easy to please back at 14, all I needed was some cliche romance and boom. Instant 5 stars. Since then I’ve grown up both in terms of age and ratings haha 😛 I feel like I’ve come to expect more from books, now cliche romances don’t cut it for me. I have also become more familiar with tropes and annoying things within the genre. I do consider myself a fairly fair reviewer. I don’t have a overwhelming amount of 1 star ratings, nor 5s. I judge each book on the same criteria and it just depends how they do on it which determines their rating

    • It’s weird how I didn’t actually read much romance as a 14-year-old. I probably thought it was lame 😛 I think romance is a really hard genre to do well, because almost everything has been done before. At least with spec fic the plots are always different (mostly). I’ve rated only one book 1 star this year (Allegiant, grr) but I have a fair few 5s. Mostly because I tend to stay away from books I know I’ll dislike, I think. Plus, I follow recommendations from you and my other lovely blogger friends 🙂

  11. I also loved everything when I was younger, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting more critical. The more you read, the more books you can use to compare your current read with. I think it’s only natural when you start to dislike things when you get older 🙂 You start to form your own opinion about things and you just can’t like everything. I’m happy that I’ve already figured out which books work for me and which books don’t (although some books manage to trick me ;)) The one thing that really changed is that I DNF now, while I used to finish everything no matter what.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy

    • Definitely! And not liking everything automatically is good in a way – lets you enjoy the things you love even more fully, I think. Generally I know which books I will like, but like you said, sometimes I’m blown away by books I didn’t think I’d like, or books I was anticipating don’t turn out to be very good. I don’t DNF books right at the moment, but if I continue book blogging I might have to. Thanks for your comment, Mel! 🙂

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  14. Definitely! I think I’m way more critical now. I think it’s just that I read more now as opposed to then and when you read more, I guess your tastes develop and you’re more attuned to the little things that maybe you didn’t pay attention to before? Like I actually notice when sentence structure is a bit off now and when an author uses one word over and over when that type of stuff just totally flew over me before.

  15. I know what you mean. I’ve fluctuated a bit over the years, but in general I’ve gone from less critical to more critical. But when I rate books, I’m rating them completely subjectively. I’ll give a brilliant classic 2 stars if it wasn’t enjoyable to me. On the other hand, I’ll give brain candy 5 stars if it really entertained me. I’m not rating the book as much as I am rating my experience with the book… which means, in addition to tastes changing over the years, ratings can also be affected by my mood, if I read something really great or really terrible right before it, or any number of things. And I’ve finally come to the decision that I’m okay with that. I have to accept that my ratings aren’t perfect or I’d drive myself crazy.

  16. Oh absolutely my feelings have changed over time. I did the EVERYTHING IS AWESOME thing when I was younger as well. I’m now more of a emotional/enjoyment rater now.

    Sometimes I’ll really enjoy at book at the time while I’m reading so I’ll rater a bit high but as time goes on I realize the book wasn’t actually that good. Other times I’ll be lukewarm about a book until I have time to think things over and realize I enjoyed it more than I originally though. I usually won’t go back and change my reviews/ratings for that though. It’s just something I mentally keep track of when thinking about a book (or wanting to continue a series).

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