The first thing I do after I finish a book is go onto Goodreads to rate it. I click on “I’m finished!”, look at the five greyed out stars… and that’s when the first wave of anxiety usually starts. What did I think of this book?
If it was mindblowingly good and an absolute new favourite (such as Throne of Glass), then the choice isn’t that difficult. Same goes for books I flat out despised (which doesn’t happen that often – which we’ll get to in a minute). But if it is a book that I simply liked, or even really liked, it can take me quite a while to decide upon a rating. I start comparing the book to books I’ve read previously to decide if it’s “worth” 5 stars, which is often like comparing apples and oranges.
It’s a real struggle, you guys.
So, when I’ve finally figured out this all-important rating, it’s time to take a look at what my friends thought of the book, which is when the real rating anxiety starts. I look at their ratings, and see that they’ve given my 5-star books only 3 stars. Immediately the wheels in my head start turning. Was it really as amazing as I thought? Did I miss some things that were really not very good?
Am I critical enough?
Of course, this whole thought process is completely unnecessary. We all simply have different tastes when it comes to books. A book I adore might just not be someone else’s cup of tea, and vice versa. Still, there is this lingering feeling that I’m too enthusiastic and positive, and that I can’t tell an exceptional novel from a mediocre one.
Part of the feeling has to do with my average rating, I think. When I checked out my “Year in Review” thingy on Goodreads, I noticed that my average rating for 2015 was 4 stars. 4 stars, on average! That’s pretty high. So, the question is: am I amazing at picking out great books, or am I too liberal with handing out stars? Rating anxiety.
I don’t read a whole lot of books in a year, compared to most other bloggers, which leads to me being rather picky when it comes to the books I do read. I don’t want to waste my time with a book I don’t like, but I also don’t like not finishing a book, so I mostly only read books I’m pretty sure I’ll like. This means that I rarely read a book I really don’t like, except for when I have to read it for one of my courses.
So, when I think about all this rationally, there’s no reason for me to worry about not being critical enough. I just read the books I want to read, and occasionally there’s a disappointment. Other times, I simply adore a book because of how it made me feel, even if it’s perhaps not a work of extreme literary genius. There’s just so many different types of stories that rating them all according to a five star system is just impossible.
But does it even matter at all? In the end, aren’t we reading for the fun of it? I certainly am.
How about you? Do you suffer from rating anxiety at all, or am I just weird?