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My Ratings

I grew jaded with the idea of taking the immense amount of work that authors, publishers, graphic designers and everyone else puts into a book and then reducing my opinion of it to one word. It didn’t seem right.

So, in January 2010, I came up with a new system rating each book I read on five different aspects.

LEGACY
This aspect is the most important. I try to measure the essence of the book and think about the ways it has contributed to the world of literature. I think about how it’s captured the spirit of the age it was written in, the mood of the times. I consider it’s relevance to that time and to the contemporary period and humanity and think about what it has left us for posterity.

PLOT (fiction) / TOPIC (non-fiction)
Here, I consider how well the whole work holds together and how each part contributes to the whole. I think about how the writing is structured and organised and the issues it chooses to deal with.

CHARACTERISATION (fiction) / FACTS (non-fiction)
For fiction, this isn’t just about how well characters are constructed and used but also about the setting and the scenes their placed in. For non-fiction, I consider the way the writer has presented the details of the TOPIC and what they’ve chosen to tell us.

READABILITY
This includes not only how well the prose flows and the skill employed in the writing but also more mundane but important details of how the book feels in my hand, any graphics or images, the cover, the font, etc. In all, it’s this aspect more than any other that captures the totally subjective factor of how much I actually enjoyed a book.

ACHIEVEMENT
I once read somewhere that when reviewing a book, it’s helpful to remember that, no matter what you thought of the book, the author set out to achieve something. A good reivew, it said, focusses on whether the author actually achieved what they set out to do. So, I try to consider that too.

STYLE
Sometimes there isn’t a plot to speak of but you are captivated by the style that the writer employs. One of the first novels I remember where the style made the book for me was The Shipping News. This aspect of rating reflects how well I feel the author employed style to communicate what they were trying to achieve.

When I’ve rated each of these as a percentage, I get an overall percentage for the book. I use this to generate the impression the book has made on me as follows:

negative impression

0% – 19%

rubbish
no impression

20%-34%

poor

slight memory

35%-49%

mediocre

some impression

50%-59%

okay

made me think

60%-69%

good

a lasting memory

70% – 79%

very good

influenced me deeply

80 – 89%

excellent

life-changing

90%-100%

superb

10 comments… add one
  • Suchitra 3 March, 2010, 3:50 pm

    Hi,

    I just came across your website as I was looking out for a list of the 1001 books. It is a really well maintained site and I love the analytical approach that you have to reviewing the books.
    The rationale behind the name of your site also seems quite fascinating and well thought out. I love reading and traveling although I have usually been stationary while reading. The idea of reading while on the move seems unique and I will definitely try it out.

    Keep up the great work

    -Suchitra

  • Arukiyomi 6 March, 2010, 12:10 pm

    wow… thanks for the kind words Suchitra… consider your blog subscribed to!

  • pinuccia 23 March, 2010, 10:49 am

    Hello there! I acc?dentally found out about your blog and totally loved it, especially your rating scheme. I tried to subscribe myself but there was a problem. I’ll try it later on. Thanks for sharing all the info about your reviewing details and of course I’m waiting for the new spreadsheet. Greetings from Turkey,

    Pinar

  • Arukiyomi 23 March, 2010, 8:56 pm

    [quote comment=”19405″]Hello there! I acc?dentally found out about your blog and totally loved it, especially your rating scheme. I tried to subscribe myself but there was a problem. I’ll try it later on. Thanks for sharing all the info about your reviewing details and of course I’m waiting for the new spreadsheet. Greetings from Turkey,

    Pinar[/quote]
    Hello Pinar… many thanks for the kind words. The rating scheme is something fairly new so I’m glad you liked it. Sorry you had trouble subscribing. If you still have problems, please let me know what they are – it may be that others have similar problems. Thanks!

  • Barb. 26 March, 2010, 1:34 pm

    Hey! Love your way of rating! Do you mind if I “borrow” it?
    BTW: I just learned about your spreadsheet, I can’t wait until you post v4!

  • Arukiyomi 26 March, 2010, 8:36 pm

    [quote comment=”19444″]Hey! Love your way of rating! Do you mind if I “borrow” it?
    BTW: I just learned about your spreadsheet, I can’t wait until you post v4![/quote]
    sure Barb… if it inspires you, feel free to borrow it. Be nice to have a link from your review page to my blog though. Spreadshee’s up and running…

  • Barb. 17 April, 2010, 8:56 pm

    [quote comment=”19445″][quote comment=”19444″]Hey! Love your way of rating! Do you mind if I “borrow” it?
    BTW: I just learned about your spreadsheet, I can’t wait until you post v4![/quote]
    sure Barb… if it inspires you, feel free to borrow it. Be nice to have a link from your review page to my blog though. Spreadshee’s up and running…[/quote]

    Thanks!
    I’m stumbeling a little in the beginning – especially with the translation of the key words to Norwegian, but it’s a brilliant system! I’ve linked to you, and I’ll be linking again when I dwelve further into it.

  • Kay Bee 14 June, 2010, 8:33 pm

    I love your rating system, too! Makes more sense than just 1-5 stars.

    thanks! I apreciate all your insight and the time you give to this.
    KB

  • cipriano 17 June, 2010, 6:20 pm

    That is an amazing rating system. You’ve inspired me to perhaps employ something similar. You are so right — no book should be relegated to just a simple unexplained BLAMMO-style verdict of praise or condemnation.

  • Arukiyomi 17 June, 2010, 11:04 pm

    [quote comment=”20227″]That is an amazing rating system. You’ve inspired me…[/quote]
    wow… coming from you Cip, that is high praise indeed. I’m humbled… thanks for the comment mate.

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