Deciphering My Rating System
First and foremost, my ratings are based on how much I liked the book. It is not about how well written the book is or how effective it is at illuminating the human condition. Of course, that plays into how much I enjoyed the book and appreciate the author, but well written doesn't always equal amazing. It just helps. Reading is my drug of choice, and in the end, that is what the rating system is based on. Me. So, here goes . . .
These poor books are the ones that irritate me, and I am a notoriously easy to please person. Sometimes it's because I don't like the characters. Other times, the plot was too easy or the writer did something I hated with the book. Often these books are the ones that should have been great. I dislike them because I had such high hopes. They are the ones that stay with me, worming under my skin, chanting, if only, if only, if only.
This is the pile of such abject mediocrity that it didn't even have the flame to inspire dislike, hatred, or disappointment so common in the 1 star category. Everything here is simply okay, but nothing that I would ever pick up again. I won't call these books vanilla because I happen to love that flavor. Instead, this is the oatmeal pile, minus raisins, cinnamon, or even brown sugar to make it interesting.
Here lives the bulk of what I read. These are the friends you like in high school and then never talk to after graduation. Oh sure, you might occasionally see them, and when you do, you have a nice long talk. Maybe you Facebook them, but they aren't permanent fixtures in your life. Let me be clear: these are good books. They are probably a lot of people's 4 and 5 star books, but they didn't quite make the bar for me.
These are the books I will absolutely read again, and probably again and again. Yes, I do that a lot, the whole re-reading books thing more than is probably healthy. These books are my equivalent to most people's 5 star ratings. I liked the worlds, the characters, the conflict, etc. This is the pool I draw my 5 star books from. They are amazing and wonderful and everything a book could really ever hope to be.
Mine. My own. My precious. These books, for some reason or other, had that special something that lingered inside me, so even years after I have read them, I love them. They aren't necessarily deep or life changing (and no analyzing what that says about me). In fact, they usually aren't. Some of them make me laugh, over and over again. Others are sweet or poignantly painful or have a particularly good plot twist. These books generally start off in the 4 star group. It is usually only weeks or months after I read the book that they are bumped up into the 5 star echelon. I generally read the book (or series) through once, and then immediately skim over my favorite parts, or even re-read the book in all its glory. And then I read it again 6 months later.