How I (subjectively) evaluate books

Five star books:

Only my best-of-all books come into this category. The most beloved childhood books (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, O Sítio do Picapau Amarelo); the books that started my love for science-fiction (The Robots Of Dawn, Brave New World, Star Trek: The Lost Years) and fantasy (The Mists of Avalon), the most beloved romances and poems (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Pride and Prejudice, Love in the Time of Cholera, Wuthering Heights, The Phantom of the Opera, Federico Garcia Lorca: Selected Poems) have a place in my Five Star Favorite’s list. These are books that remained with me after I finished reading them. I will be happy if one days the style of my books approach them and for me these books add a lot of fun and beauty to the world.

Four Stars and Three Star books:

These were very entertaining books, they didn’t remain in my heart as much as the five star ones, but they were still worth reading and a pleasure to read. I usually give four stars to the ones who were really entertaining and three to the ones which were fun, but not as great as the former ones. This is a bit of a gray area though, especially if I read a book more than ten years ago. It can be that there is a star too little due to the distance of time. One day I might read these books again, only to refresh my memory, if one day I have finished my To-be-read list of new books.

Two Stars books:

I do acknowledge the effort of the authors in writing these books, but they somehow failed to impress me in a positive manner. My opinion is neutral, and even if as usual, I like to read something new, I would rather not pick up the same book again. They might be someone else’s five stars, but aren’t so special in my opinion. In the end, it’s only a matter of personal taste.

One Star books:

These few books left a lasting negative impression on me and I would avoid giving them to anyone. Funnily enough, this only means that I considered them not at all my taste, but they can be someone else’s cup of tea. I remember reading Pollyanna and hating every moment of it, in my opinion, this book only taught a whole generation of unfortunate girls to be constantly smiling and lying to themselves instead of fighting for a better life, so this is one of my one star books. I also started reading Hyperion and found the book so confusing, I just couldn’t finish it, so it got one star too. I must say though that the mere fact that the book is listed and marked as one star shows that I found it worth mentioning, something like: “This is spinach and I don’t like it, but perhaps you find it great”. After all, aren’t we all subjective readers?

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Author: Leticia Toraci

Artist, Painter, Writer, Indie Author in training and busy Mom

5 thoughts on “How I (subjectively) evaluate books”

  1. I’m a subjective reader, but I’m an objective reviewer. Your cup of tea comment is something I often say, though I use it as reason not to leave a bad review. Something can be wonderfully executed, yet not my cup of tea. I hated the movie Fargo, for instance, but I recognize it is a well crafted movie. Because of this I’ve never felt it fair to leave a review simply based on whether I liked it or not.

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  2. Well, in this world, there is always the question if you should say your opinions out loud or not. When it comes to politics and religion, I often find them better unsaid. When it comes to books I don’t see a big problem in saying “I didn’t like it.” My taste has nothing to do with the intrinsic value of something, it only means I subjectively didn’t like the book. Some people like Hyperion and other books I don’t like, but even though I prefer to give my own opinion about something than to let my review be guided by external factors. It can be that all literary critics praise Hyperion, but I couldn’t finish it, so I’ll say it out loud. There would be no point in being influenced by other people’s opinion on this. Another important thing is if you didn’t like a book because it had a sad story and end. I mostly recognize the need for sad stories for they help us to see the injustices of the world, so I usually see it rather as something positive for a review than not.

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    1. I worry just saying I didn’t like the book will negatively impact the sales. If I didn’t like it, but I can acknowledge it’s well written, I’ll try to explain what sort of reader I think would enjoy the book. My goal with reviews is to give others a good idea if the book is a good choice for them or not.

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    2. I worry simply saying I didn’t like a book will negatively impact its sales. If I didn’t like a book, but I can acknowledge it is well written, I try to post a review that explains what sort of reader I think would enjoy the book and why. I find those sort of reviews help me better to tell whether I’d enjoy the book or not. I might still say in the review itself that the book wasn’t to my taste, but if it’s well written I’ll still give it a good rating.

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      1. I usually don’t give reviews under two stars on self-published books because I think independent authors have it already hard enough when it comes to marketing and sales.

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