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Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Note on My Ratings

It was commented once to me that I give the books I review high ratings in general, usually no lower than 2/5. I don't think I've probably ever given a book a 1/5 rating on Bold. Blue. Adventure. No, it isn't because I am a ratings-inflater. Don't you worry, I have started plenty of books that would have received a 1/5. Had I finished them.

Gah, now you know my dark secret. I am not good at finishing books I don't like. There are some I try really hard with, but I just can't. I just can't. I try, but I have this huge tbr pile staring me down, and I just can't do it.

I don't even write down the titles of the books I don't finish. Because I can't really review a book I didn't finish, because that's just not fair. Who knows, I may have liked it had I finished it. Most likely not, though.

But here is a random sample of books that I remember reading but never got around to finishing:

Zorro by Isabel Allende.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Human Stain by Phillip Roth
The Constant Princess by Phillippa Gregory
Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand

Those are just the ones I remember. Some of them I was lukewarm about, but others (The Human Stain, Mortal Love) I just got so bored I couldn't read another page.

So there, I've just outed myself as a bad book reader. Sorry. Can we still be friends?


Literary Feline said...

I don't think you are a bad reader at all, Kim. Lots of readers stop reading books they aren't enjoying--they think of it as a waste of their valuable time. I'm one of them, in fact. I have rated books as low as 1.5 before, but I don't recall ever going lower. I only finished those books because there was something that kept me wanting to read. If I give up on a book, it's usually because I'm completely bored with it and don't care what happens.

I admit I tend to like most of the books I do read and so my rating scale is top heavy. I don't often rate a book below a 3 (which is good on my scale) these days, although it does happen (I gave a book I read last month a 2.5). I just chalk it up to my being a good judge of which books I will enjoy. :-) I haven't ever had anyone comment though on the fact that I like most of the books I read. At least not directly.

Renay said...

I don't review books I don't finish, either. Mostly because I put them back on the shelf with intentions to "return to them later". Uh, this rarely happens.

Why didn't you finish The Chocolate War? Do you remember. I almost quit because it was so depressing and I stuck it out because it had to get better but um. Oops.

Melody said...

I don't review books that I don't finish either. I don't think it's fair anyway IMO.

I always try to finish a book, unless they're really boring and didn't hold my attention at all. I tend to give no lower than 3 actually, unless they're really, really bad but I haven't encounter those so far.

Alice Teh said...

Yikes, I have Lolita on my TBR. I should give it a go and see if I survive it.

I do sometimes stop reading a book because it's just not for me at that moment, but then when I did pick it up again later, it was actually really, really good. For example, Janet Fitch's Paint It Black. I couldn't stand it because of its bleakness and I got depressed just reading it. Later, when I re-start all over again, it was quite good.

I don't put any ratings for the books I reviewed, but generally I review only stuff I like so...

Lezlie said...

You're not a bad reader at all! I wish I didn't feel compelled to finish every book I start. Maybe I'll get over that someday.

I don't blame you at all for giving up on Lolita and The Constant Princess. If it weren't for audiobooks, they would have taken me a whole lot longer than they should have!


Debi said...

Oh, no way, Kim! That most definitely does NOT make you a bad reader! Life is waaaaaay too short and there are waaaaaaay too many books out there to read to waste your time on something that is boring you to tears. Took me a long time to learn that lesson, but I'm so glad I finally did!

Nymeth said...

Go Kim! Life is to short for 1/5 books. I really don't think that makes you a bad reader. And I don't review books I don't finish either. The ending can often completely change my opinion of a book, so it really wouldn't be fair.

Nymeth said...

*too (sorry :P)

Alyce said...

I'm the same way about not reviewing books I haven't finished. The majority of the books that I read and review fall into the 3-5 stars rating, and the reason for this is I pick books that I am interested in, therefore I will probably like them. Either that or I choose to read books that come highly recommended from others.

I suppose I could balance out my ratings if I went out and picked books I knew I wasn't going to like, but that seems pointless.

Oh said...

Wonderful! I gotta say, I read your list of what you did NOT read as avidly as I read what you did read.

It feels good to give oneself permission to stop reading a book, doesn't it?

And it makes your book reviews, the ones you do, all the more valid.

BTW, I couldn't get through LOLITA either. And I just might "copycat" and make one of my blog entries a list of the books I couldn't finish!

Anonymous said...

I usually try to stick with the 50 page rule, myself. If I'm not enjoying the book after 50 pages, I usually give up. No sense wasting time on bad books!

Kim L said...

Literary Feline-Yeah, my ratings are top heavy as well, because I tend to pick books I think I will enjoy. Sometimes I challenge myself, but then I either like it and rate it well or don't like it and don't finish it.

Renay-I didn't finish The Chocolate War because it was depressing and I felt like the "mean" boys had way more power than high school boys ever would in real life. I mean there was no one worth liking in the book!

Melody-Hats off to you for finishing books. I try, I really do. I'm just sucky at it if the book doesn't hold my attention!

Alice Teh-There are so many others who really like Lolita, and you might be one of them. The language is very poetic and lots of people enjoy that. BTW I like Janet Fitch and I think I might have to try Paint it Black.

Lezlie-I could probably do an audiobook of The Constant Princess, because it wasn't that I was not interested in the subject matter, I just didn't want to devote that much time to reading the books!

Debi-I'm glad I'm not the only one! You're right, life is too short.

Nymeth-that is so true, sometimes when I do manage to finish a book I've been hating I end up feeling like the ending redeems everything else. That is pretty rare though.

Alyce-Heehee, when we are reviewing for fun, not profit, it seems pointless to force ourselves to read books we know we won't like, huh? I agree with that!

oh-yes it feels good to give myself permission to stop reading a book! I was so happy to stop reading Zorro, even though I felt horrible, because I have liked other Allende books. Perhaps the translation wasn't so good? It seemed so wordy and there were spelling mistakes I noticed. Feel free to copy my idea!

heatherlo-I should use a 50 page rule. I don't have time for bad books!

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Of course we can still be friends! If I read more than half of the book before quitting, I still review it (only two reviews so far). I figure if I'm going to spend so much time reading it then I'm going to tell other people why I couldn't do it.