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Book Rating Categories That Should Exist (Because Star Ratings Can Be Useless)

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Natalie Meyer

Staff Writer

Natalie Meyer quit her psychologist job to travel the world with her husband and a Kindle loaded with books. In her spare time, she can be found taking photos, reading, and writing about her , travel adventures.

I try to keep track of the books I read so that I don’t accidentally pick it up again thinking it’s new (that has happened a lot). If you’re like me, however, a simple Likert scale is more a source of frustration than help. Clearly, I am not the only Rioter who has issues with this system. I need a more nuanced system to keep track of my thoughts on the books I have read. Here are some categories that I desperately need when rating books:

painterThe “I Loved It – Until the Ending” Category
Example: The Painter by Peter Heller

I’m a ruthless reader. I subscribe to the Kurt Vonnegut school of thought that your characters should suffer. I also think that if a story is building to a character having some sort of horrible thing happen then they shouldn’t be let off the hook at the end. If I could recommend books up to a certain point (as in “read this book until page 245 and then imagine how it would end”), that would be great.



tampa alissa nuttingThe “You Probably Think I’m Weird for Liking This” Category
Example: Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Occasionally I read a book that I really like but I feel like I shouldn’t. Case in point: Tampa was a really raunchy book about a very taboo subject. However, I really liked the writing and the sheer awfulness of the main character. When it came time to rate it, I hesitated with my rating because I thought people would think I was weird for liking it. The same happens whenever I like a YA book.



remember me coverThe “It Was Really Good for a _____ Book” Category

Example: Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Everyone probably has one of these categories. It could be “really good for a teen book” or “really good for an apocalypse book” or a bunch of other categories that normally aren’t your cup of tea. For me, it is “really good for a chick lit book.” I enjoy mind candy to balance out some of the serious stuff but I get annoyed with a lot of chick lit plotlines. When a book in this category is good, I want to give it a high rating but then look at some of the other, more serious literature that I’ve given similar ratings and can’t quite bring myself to rate it as high.



few seconds of radiant filmstripThe “I Wish I Could Read This Book Forever” Category
Example: A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade by Kevin Brockmeier

Sadly, this would be my smallest category. There are only a handful of books that I wish would go on and on and on. They are really well written, interesting, and have a satisfying ending. Typically I want to become friends with the characters and continue to hear about what happens. A top rating on a number scale doesn’t really do justice to the fact that these books are somehow special.



game of thrones coverThe “I Really Want to Read This Book But I Really, Really Can’t” Category
Example: A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin

This really just a general category for all of those books I wish I had time or patience to read. In it would be all of those classics I should’ve read, every book deemed “important,” and a whole lot of nonfiction books that would help me understand things. Right now, it seems like everyone is recommending that I read the A Song of Fire and Ice series. I really like Game of Thrones and I’ve read the first one (which I liked) but just couldn’t muster the patience to read through the next ones. I wish I could, but I can’t.

Are there other categories that would help you when rating a book you’ve read? Let me know in the comments!



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