Have you ever read a book that you started thinking of the rating while you were reading it? I think we’ve all found ourselves doing this at one point. Actually, I find myself doing this with almost every book I read. I think it’ll be five stars but then I come across something and change it to four stars. Or I’ll be reading a boring book and I’ll give it two stars right away. Rating books can be tricky.
But is rating a book before you’ve finished it all that bad? And if it’s only in your head and you aren’t explicitly rating this book, is there is a problem?
I don’t know how common this is for other people because it’s something I’ve been doing since I started reviewing books. I’m in a more critical mindset so I’m analysing the book for every good or bad thing while reading. Sometimes, this can affect my reading experience though. I’ll think a book deserves three stars early on but even as it gets better, I tend not to budge. For some reason, I just can’t bring myself to give it four stars, or maybe two or one or five, because of what I had thought at first.
It makes it easier to review books
I used to try and review books before I became a more critical reader and found it impossible. I seemed to forget all the details right away except for the major plot points. But once I started thinking about ratings before I finished a book, I found it much easier to write reviews. I realized that if i talked about my thoughts that I had while reading the book, it was much easier to construct a proper review.
You’re paying more attention to small details
Some people may actually consider this a con. I used to never pay attention to small details such as world building or character development, but now those are both major parts for me when I review and rate books. I started to pay more attention to details when I begin rating books in my head before they’re done and it helps me to come up with an ultimate rating. Plot wise a book may be four stars, but because of other issues I had, I may bring that down to three stars. When I’m just skimming through a book to read it for the plot, I’m too generous with my ratings. I find that as I’m thinking about rating while reading, I can give the book a better rating.
Your mind is set on that original rating
Like I said before, I’ll be on page 150 of a book and I’m so sure it’s three star book. I’m enjoying it, but there are just some parts really bugging me. But then maybe the next 200 pages will really pick up and blow me away. Sometimes I’m still set on that original three stars even though I know it should be four stars, or vice versa.
It’s not fair to the authors to rate their books before finishing them
This goes right along with my last point. If an author writes a book deserving of four stars, is it fair for me to give it three stars because of my initial thoughts? They worked really hard on an amazing book, but I’m just kind of throwing all those great moments out the window to focus on the bad ones. Or maybe a book is really bad and I want to share that the author didn’t do a great job with that one. But if I’m giving it a higher rating than it deserves, this also seems unfair to an author. You should always give honest feedback, even if you didn’t like it.
You ignore good/bad parts of the book to stick with that original rating
I feel like I’m just repeating myself, but this is really important. When you’re stuck on a certain rating, it’s like you’re worried to give it something else. You end up ignoring some really good, or really bad, parts that otherwise would have changed your review.
I don’t think that having a rating in your head before you finish a book is a bad thing, as long as you keep all the cons of doing this in mind. Just make sure you aren’t subject to ignoring good parts. Maybe you’re being too generous because of what you thought at first. Either way, this is something everyone does different. Remember, if you’re reading a book and you want to give it a certain rating, keep everything in mind and don’t ignore certain aspects to keep that original rating.
Do you do this? What do you think about it? Is it bad or good, or maybe even both? Any pros and/or cons that I didn’t include on this list? Let me know your thoughts on rating books before you finish them below!
I’ll start thinking about a rating when I’m halfway into a book. I have, however, never actually rated a book before finishing it for the reasons you mention under cons. I do not want to carve my original rating in stone and I believe that endings can sometimes redeem a book to the point where it changes the rating. What I do is change a rating after having written a review and pondered more extensively over the book, dissecting it into pieces. For example, I gave ACOMAF a high rating at first, completely ignoring the weight of the issues I had in spite of mentioning them in my review, but then I realized that I could easily list as much as negatives as positives, and I took away a star. The first rating can be really emotion-driven whereas a re-do is based more on rationality, at least that’s how it is for me. Really interesting post, Adalyn! 🙂
You have a really good point, Nina 🙂 Halfway through is a good time to start thinking about it because you’ve gotten into the story, but there’s still more of it left (am I even making any sense right now?). I often times end up changing my ratings because of the endings, too. I’ve also gone back and changed ratings after writing reviews as well. I totally agree though! I’ll sometimes rate a book based on how much I enjoyed it, but then I’ll end up taking off a star because there was some technical stuff that bothered me or vice versa. Thank you!
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I definitely think of a rating as I’m reading, but once I write a review, it often changes. It’s interesting to go more in depth with the review and realise I enjoyed it more/less than I thought initially.
Thanks for a great post!
For sure! I often times realize when I’m rating a review that it was a lot better, or a lot worse, than I had originally thought, too.
Ugh, yes! Ever since I started reviewing, I can’t seem to NOT do this. I hate it though because, like you said, it definitely has some cons. Once I get one rating in my head, it seems like my brain doesn’t want to change it. Maybe that’s just because sometimes you’re able to tell right away how you feel about a book, but I also worry that maybe, if I had held off and just enjoyed the book while reading, I’d have rated it differently. However, there have been some times when I kind of hated the book at the beginning and would’ve rated it low but then it significantly improved and I really liked it, and I did change the rating to a higher one. But it’s those smaller kind of rating changes that are more worrisome. I wonder if there’s any way we could train our brains to just stop rating books while we read them lol.
Same! I totally agree with you. I mean some books i’ve taken away from the rating not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because of tiny things I was paying close attention to. Otherwise I probably would’ve rated it four or even five stars.
I recently found myself doing this quite often when I’m reading! I think it’s kind of bad because then when I’m reading all I’m doing is thinking about that rating. I then change it when things start happening that make me upset. 🙁
Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian
True. I actually kind of like it, but I think it all depends on the book, and the person, too.
I do this a lot! I think it’s a side effect of reviewing books honestly. It’s not bad, but sometimes it can get in the way of the enjoying the novel for what it is. Though it is fantastic when you go “this is a 2 star read” when a sudden plot twist or something happens and you completely change your preset rating!
The only books I don’t seem to rate while reading are the books I end up rating 4.5-5 stars! If I get so absorbed into the story I’m not thinking about what I’d rate it that’s a good book.
Glad to know I’m not the only one. 🙂 I totally agree. I never did this before reviewing books, but now I do it constantly. And there are some books I really enjoy, but then the technical aspects really got to me when I was reading, and it’s like oh, here’s two stars off. Some books that I don’t intend to review, I don’t really do that with though. It’s almost like my mind defaults to thinking about rating if I know i’m going to review it.
I do this ALL THE TIME! I get worried about being stuck on an unfair rating, too, so I’ll make an effort to think to myself that it’s a three-star book IF it continues the same way. I think that it’s worthwhile to rate books in your head as you’re reading them, or at least to give yourself some equivalent indication of how much you like it, because otherwise, you might just rate a book based on the ending because that’s what’s fresh in your mind. That’s what happened to me with ACOMAF (kind of) – I was so sure for the first 400 pages or so that it was going to be a 4-star book, but the ending was so amazing that I nearly put it on my favorites shelf…until I remembered that the beginning hadn’t been that mind-blowing. I ended up giving it five stars but not making it a favorite.
Right? It makes me so mad when I see reviews solely based on the endings. But when I’m thinking about my rating as I read it, I feel like it’s almost a bit more fair (though that goes against one of my points)? ACOMAF is one of my favorites, but I’ve had similar experiences with other books.
Wow – this is some food for thought. Thinking about it, I don’t really rate books until I finish them – and even then only once I’ve written a review. I like to take a few days to think about how the book made me feel. Even writing the review, its not until all my thoughts are all on paper that I make a decision on its rating… I think if I tried to think about rating the book before I finished it, the book would stop being enjoyable and I would be nit-picking over every little thing.
That’s interesting. Sometimes I’ll switch my rating after writing a review, but normally I know right away what I want to rate it. It’s one of those things though that’s just different for everyone.