Recently I read a book (shocker, I know).
It had a great premise.
The main character was Black and gay, and I'm all about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement and the #OwnVoices movement.
It was a fairy tale retelling that really reworked the original and challenged the sexist stereotypes, and ai am HERE for that.
it was boring.
THERE. I said it. I ended up skimming through the last half of the book just to see what happened and if my guesses were correct. But I could just as easily have put it down and never thought of it again.
I have a "skimmed" shelf on GR so I can mark that I've interacted with a book without having to rate it. If I were going to rate it, I would have given it a 2. It wasn't vile or offensive (1), but it wasn't good (3).
But given how important I think it is for all people (and especially all young people) to see themselves represented in books, I would have been tempted to give it a 3.
And given how many authors I've seen decrying the reviewers who say "Well I hate YA, so I hated it--2 stars" I might have even been tempted to rate it higher. Maybe the predictability would have seemed fresh to a younger reader? Maybe the love at first sight romance would have seemed dreamy instead of annoying when I was 15? Is it a four star book for what it is, even if 'what it is' is not my cup of tea?
Which brings me to the question at hand. I've bemoaned this before, as have many of you, but the ratings side of things is frustrating. For my own record keeping, I want to write down how I felt about the book. But I don't want potential readers, who might well love it, to be turned away from it. I've been splitting the difference for awhile now, putting half stars on the Google form I use for more extensive record keeping and rounding up on Goodreads. But that doesn't seem sustainable. There's also the issue that my understanding of ratings (3 and up is positive) doesn't match what it seems publishers and authors believe (anything below 3 is an insult). And that doesn't even get into the theoretical "True" audience for reviews, other readers.
The only time I look at ratings for books is if I'm trying to decide between specific books to spend money on. If I'm at the library, I'll grab anything that sounds good. No skin off my teeth if I don't like it! If students have requested a book, I'll buy it for them. I'm here to make readers, not judge them. But if I'm looking at a list of books that SOUND like my students might like them, then I'll pull up their ratings and see if there are any outliers. 4.5 and up? I should probably get it. 3.3 and below? Probably not. And yet, who is rating these middle grade and young adult novels? If it's other teachers, librarians, and adults who like a good story, is that really going to give me a good idea of what my students will like? This is why we get the complaints about reviews from people the book wasn't written for.
What do you think? Do you rate books for yourself or for other readers? Rounding up or rounding down? With descriptors instead of stars? (And if that one, do you feel like you're just calling 1-5 by new names?) CAN WE GET THE AUTHORS TO JUST STAY OFF GOODREADS FOR THEIR OWN SANITY? Do you use ratings when making decisions about what to read and/or purchase?