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Friday, 2 August 2013

I'm a book whore - I don't mind reading around. Or how to rate a book on Goodreads.



Rating books on Goodreads has been a little bit of nostalgia for me this week. When I first got my account I started rating books I could see on my shelves, books I had read recently and of course my favourite books. Then as time passed I started remembering books I'd read in the past. Now I've read a heck of a lot of books, and probably forgotten a good majority of them, but every now and then I'll remember one or an authors name and will go down memory lane rating these books.

As a child I worshipped at the alter of Enid Blyton.(Yeah I know, those books cannot be revisited happily as an adult, I found this out when I read them to my children). I wanted to be one of The Famous Five - I even took my ham sandwiches and lemonade and camped in the garden with my stack of FF books beside me. I was a strange child. I didn't think I would ever read anything quite so marvellous as an Enid Blyton book - Roald Dahl, pah you could have him, I wanted adventures on rocky islands, smugglers, secret codes and plucky, adventurous children.

Then at a summer library reading challenge I was persuaded to try the book Alanna by Tamora Pierce - I was convinced I wouldn't like it and took it home reluctantly. Of course I loved it and had my first taste of romance (to become a life long addiction in my reading). I kicked EB to the kerb and started devouring the usual teen girl books, you know Judy Blume (all together now I must, I must....), Paula Danziger et al. Then I had a huge flirtation with the Sweet Dreams books - so much so that they saved the new ones just for me at the library and I used to go in, get my own books and ticket and stamp them myself. God I loved that library, it isn't there any longer but it was my favourite place ever as a child.

It was remembering these books and subsequently rating them on Goodreads that got me thinking about the whole book rating thing. I mean, how do I rate them - and any other book that I read as child? Do I rate it for the enjoyment I got at the time of reading it, or the enjoyment I would get now? I mean when I was 6/7/8 I practically thought I was one of The Famous Five (or Five Find Outers, or friends with Barney etc, etc) I lived for those books. Yet as I said when I read them back recently to my children - all excited because these were f****** fantastic books - I was so bored. Seriously, J. K. Rowling she can write books that both I and my children adore, Enid Blyton, not so much. It made me sad. So do I rate the books as a 1 or a 5?? Dilemma. In the end - and I have done this for a lot of books - I settled for a middle of the road 3. Mainly because if I hadn't loved them so much back then I probably would have stopped reading and that is just a thought I don't want to have.

Of course this doesn't explain how I rate other books, the ones I've read as an adult. Well there is no secret to my method, I go with my gut. If a book has kept me up half the night alternately laughing and crying (yes I'm looking at you TJ Klune), or I have had such a book hangover I have been unable to read anything else for days afterwards and find myself obsessing about them when I'm at work etc (Scott Lynch, J. K. Rowling, Patrick Rothfuss & Stephenie Meyer - you're all guilty), then it gets a 5 star rating from me. I don't care if it is a literary work of art. I don't care if it's up for numerous (or any) literary prizes. I care if it became real to me. If my waking moments were a little obsessed by the books I'd read and the real world took a little while to catch up.

I'm a book whore - I don't mind reading around. Earlier this year it was the fantasy genre I was whizzing my way through. At the moment contemporary M/M floats my boat. Next week/month it could easily be detective novels, or chick lit, or YA. And I'll rate them all on the same system - if I love it it gets a 5. So how do you rate a book?

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