Of Things We Like. Or, Not.

I had a tea party for my mother today. And long after we ate the red pears with Gorgonzola, the orange currant muffins with Black Forest Ham, the pecan chicken salad on cucumber rounds, followed by the poppyseed cake, there was a conversation about this blog.
“Tom likes your blog, you know,” said his wife Amy. “He really does.”
A look of small surprise from me, that my pleasure would strike this judge’s fancy.
“But,” said Tom, “I really want to know what you think of the book.”

“Hmmmm?” I say, thinking that my reviews give an indication of what I liked.

“If you really enjoyed it,” he said, “I want to know. Or, if you think it’s just so-so, I want to know.”
I’m so busy worrying about hurting someone’s feelings, that I don’t say, “Hey! This book is meaningless drivel.” When I have said that, about one or two, I’m anxious I’ve offended the author especially when I’m reviewing per request. (Which I’m determined to do less of, but that’s a post for another day.)
“I think it would be very helpful,” said my mother, “for people who know you, and trust you, and read your blog, to have your honest opinion.”
“Yeah,” said my husband, “you could give it five quills or something. Five bookmarks, maybe.”
“Or three,” said Amy.
And so, I think I’ll go back to rating the books I’ve read on a five star basis. As I used to do in 2008 or so. The elementary teacher part of me, the part that has to be an encouragement to every child in the room, will be laid aside in the name of blunt truth on my blog. I loved this book. I hated this book. I think this book is okay. From here on out.
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26 thoughts on “Of Things We Like. Or, Not.”

  1. It would be helpful, but that's hard to do. I sympathize! P.S. while we're talking about tea and sympathy, I give five stars/ quills/ bookmarks for your lovely tea food.

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  2. Personally I really like it when people give books ratings…even though I don't even do it myself :p I did once upon a time though…And BELLEZZA!!!!!! I am drooling from those amazing looking treats!!

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  3. Hmmm…okay. I don't rate books with stars or in any other way, except on my Amazon reviews, because it's required. I know it may be helpful to others, but, it is, in my opinion, so subjective. Hmmm….Lovely photos!

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  4. I considered this when I started, as it seemed " the norm" but quickly came to the conclusion that I'm far too lazy, so there's a disclosure in a couple of places that simply states that if I it's on the page I like/love it, I simply don't waste my time writing about something that didn't appeal, & as I've got busier I've become more adamant about that ruling, I really need to enjoy it to write it.

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  5. I have to give a star rating now – it helps me really be critical, but obviously I hope that readers read the content of my review too to understand how I came to the number of stars! Honest feedback is always useful isn't it? 🙂

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  6. The thing with rating books is that more often than not I tend to change the stars I give a book after I read two or three more… So it also depends on the mood we are in or the books we read before/after… Nowadays, I really don't care about how many stars a book was given, since that is so subjective, right? 🙂

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  7. I've wanted to stop rating books for awhile now and every time I do, or mention doing so, many people express to me that they want to see that. So for now I'll keep doing it. I feel a bit frustrated by it mostly because I have always been good about picking books I like and rarely read anything that I don't like. So for me its either a "I liked it" or "I loved it" choice for most books and that usually doesn't cut it for people who look for more in book reviews. If I'm not liking something, I stop reading it rather than plow through it so that I can read it and give a book a bad review on my blog. Thus you usually see a lot of 8/10 books (in my current rating system). Ah well, I do my best to be honest with my feelings on the book and hope those who read something upon my recommendation aren't disappointed by it.

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  8. I enjoy reading reviews that include a rating of some sort so I can gage if it's a book I'd like to read. After following several blogs for 5-6 years, I have a sense of who shares my taste in books. If one of those bloggers gives a book an average or below average rating, I tend to stay clear of the book. Helps to weed out some disappointments, I suppose. But more importantly, it does not look like there were any disappointments at your tea party! Delicious-looking treats, my dear. You are quite the entertainer. Wish we lived closer!

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  9. Audrey, I guess that's why I stopped rating things because it is hard to do. But, surely, I could give a 5, 3 or 1? Good, medium, awful? I'll try anyway. And thanks for the stars on my tea food. :)Chris, I love how you love the food posts I put up. I wish you could have seen the poppyseed cake. Which my son finished when he came in during the middle of the night. Nevermind that I wanted one more small piece this afternoon…Suko, it is dreadfully subjective. Also, my opinion may very rarely match up with someone else's; on the other hand, I guess that's part of why we write about books (to share our opinion of them).

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  10. Parrish, I've seen the 'disclaimer' on your blog which says you only review that which you've liked. Good idea, only for me? I really like, I mean am crazy about, so few! I'd probably have a review post a month if that were the case. I'm actually terribly picky about what books I love. Could name them on one hand from what I've read this year.Novelinsights, good point! We don't just want our readers to skip to the rating! I've always thought that my review was indicative of my opinion, without saying, "Blech!" If I don't like a book much, I'll just give a factual analysis of its features. But, I'm willing to retry the star rating business.Ally, I find the way a book strikes me quite indicative of my mood as well.

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  11. Carl, I like your idea of not finishing books you don't like (and, lucky you for so often being able to pick what you do like!), and therefore your reviews are always high. I've seen some bloggers I love put DNF (did not finish) on a book, and that certainly gives a good indication of their opinion. Les, it's good to have a blog which is reliable in terms of knowing that the reviewer and you have similar taste. Then no stars are needed, right? I'm glad that treats looked delicious to you, and I wish we lived closer as well, to cook, photograph, kayak and cycle together. Oh, and read. And rate books! XO

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  12. Diane, I'm getting that feeling, that a lot of people just want to know the bottom line. Hard as it is to say, "Read this!" or "Don't bother" we'll see if I can do it.Bermudaonion, it always surprises me when people in my real life mention my blog. I'm so used to having conversations about it, and books, with my cyber friends!

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  13. May I first of all say, come to Austin and let's have a tea party!! Well, don't come now because it's too hot, but come when you're snowed under and we're not. :-)Secondly, I don't do ratings. I've tried, but I end up second guessing myself later. I do them on Amazon because they make me. I'm very similar to Carl – I either liked something or I loved it. Which is a 4 or 5 rating.Truly, if I don't like it, I don't finish it. I never make myself finish a book these days if I'm not enjoying it. That may be simplistic, but I just can't justify it. Too many books are out there and I want to try all of them. I have a review coming up on Friday which was one of the hardest I've ever written. And it's one that I had to write because of a blog tour.

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  14. Kay, I personally find blog tours really, really difficult. This is the case of which I spoke when I don't want to offend anyone, most particularly the author. But, when one feels lukewarm at best about a book one's read for review, what do we do? The consensus last night was, "Tell us you didn't like it!" whereas what I usually do is remain coolly aloof. I'm looking forward to seeing how you handle it in your review on Friday.

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  15. Its hard, isn't? I mean, I've written the negative post and felt badly about it afterward. I just feel that I'm entitled to my opinion and I don't see why I have to hide it. I don't use book ratings, I just write that I either loved the book or didn't. I've thought about a book rating system, seems like it would be less harsh. I say go for it again – people do value your opinion, Bellezza 😉

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  16. I can sympathize with the difficulty of a rating system–I can't always even make up my mind as to my opinion of a book, much less how it rates out of X stars! I wouldn't want to review a book for anyone I knew or at an author's request either, fearful that I might not like it or that they might not like what I say–OR that if I did like it, no one reading would believe it because I didn't pick the book out 'independently.' (Not that I have to worry–no one's asked me to review anything and I don't know any authors!)

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  17. Yum! These little delicacies are really tempting.I don't know about the stars, it's really difficult, so much to take into consideration that I end up finding them insignificant. I hate doing it on Goodreads, especially since they don't have half stars, so I don't do it on my blog.Maybe a system with a rating of a few categories (writing, story, etc) would be more representative. We all have different criteria, so I'm not sure stars are really meaningful.

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  18. Sometimes it helps to consider an issue like this in a different context.For example, nursing homes and other such institutions often are rated on the web now. Would it be helpful for me to rate my mother's current waystation as a 3, for example, when I consider it a 1? Should I rate staff members as a 4 because they really do try and I don't want to hurt their feelings? Or would giving an honest 2 provide a prospective patient or family member a better hint of what to expect?I certainly could have profited by a more honest assessment of the acute care facility Mom's in now. Instead, I'm left doing battle to try to get her out of there while there's still a chance to reclaim a little life.

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  19. Oh, Bellezza. My heart goes out to you. And your mom & dad. I wish I could help in some way. Do loving thoughts, passed along the bandwidth of the internet, help? I do so hope so, as I'm sure I'll need the same loving thoughts in the coming years… Write…or call…if you need an ear. Love, Les

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  20. Nice pictures, Bellezza! Looks like you had a wonderful tea party 🙂 Rating books is an interesting thing. I don't read books on my blog, but do that on Good Reads. I find the exercise fascinating – especially when I compare two books that I rated similarly, but when I think about them, I find that they are really different. Looking forward to your ratings.

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  21. I couldn't bear rating books and waffled — back and forth from rating to not rating — for a long time, eventually ditching the rating scale. I do say "recommended" or "highly recommended" or "not a favorite", though. At least that gives people an idea what I really thought without attaching a number to it. Oddly, I like reading ratings at other blogs. Just don't like using them, myself.

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