How I Rate Books

For years I’ve struggled finding a satisfactory method for rating books. For several years I just refused to put a rating on my reviews, instead letting my reviews speak for themselves… but I always thought was a bit of a cop-out. So I’ve decided to formalize my method of judging books to help ya’ll with deciding with whether or not you want to read them or not.

  • Super Highly Recommended
    • A book I Super Highly Recommend are the creme de la creme of what I read. Being the cream of the cream of the crop, they blew me out of the water when I read them.
    • I only give two or three stories a year this rating, and as I read ~150 stories a year that means something.
      • For example, the book ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller was a very excellent read for me. It had good characterization and novel worldbuilding, while still playing with ancient themes and myths.
  • Highly Recommended
    • Highly Recommended stories are books I can highly recommend to just about anyone.
    • The story might have excellent prose/characterization/story/plot/setting. In this case, I Highly Recommended these stories because of the author’s literary talents.
      • For example, the book ‘Tigana’ by Guy Gavriel Kay ticks many of these boxes about artistic quality.
    • Alternately, a Highly Recommended book might be very, very fun. While the prose/characterization/story/plot/setting might not be the best in the world, the author managed to pull off a glorious story writ-large.
      • For example, the book ‘Minimum Wage Magic’ by Rachel Aaron. The book wasn’t a gorgeous work of art worthy of display in the Louvre, but *hot damn* it was a fun ride.
    • This is a broad category meant to encourage you to read this book wholeheartedly.
  • Recommended
    • This category is the same as the Highly Recommended category, but less so. Think of this category as your ‘bread and butter’ category, in terms of a satisfying read.
    • Books in this category are more ‘good’ and less ‘knock your socks off.’ I still had good fun reading it, and think that most people would like it too. Hence, I recommend them.
  • Recommended With Reservations
    • This category is where I put a wide swath of books, from very good to mediocre.
    • Books I Recommend with Reservations might be truly excellent novels, but have such a niche audience that I can’t in good faith Highly Recommend them.
      • An example of this would be the ‘Kushiel’s Legacy’ series- a series with excellent flowery prose, but the BDSM themes might turn people off. If you’re into BDSM or flowery prose you’d like ‘Kushiel,’ but if you aren’t the series is a safe avoid.
      • Another example would be the Franchise Fiction category. If you play games in the ‘Warcraft,’ ‘Starcraft’ or ‘Magic the Gathering’ settings, then chances are you’d like reading stories set in those settings. But if you don’t play those games, then chances are you wouldn’t. (This isn’t always the case; if the work of Franchise Fiction is good enough/not wedded to it’s Franchise, I might recommend it to a broader audience.)
      • I try to include a ‘who’s the target audience’ for books like this, so you can see if you’d be interested.
    • Alternately, books I Recommend with Reservations might just be mediocre. This isn’t to say bad- the textbook definition of mediocre is ‘Average’ and you can have a lot of fun reading an average book.
      • An example of a book I’d Recommend with Reservations would be ‘The Name of the Wind’ by Patrick Rothfuss. While I personally thought it was slowly paced, it’s clear that this book can stimulate a broad fandom.
      • Don’t be afraid of reading a book I Recommend with Reservations. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!
  • Not Recommended
    • Included in this category are all the books which I detest.
    • However you don’t have to worry about ever finding one of my reviews which contains a ‘Not Recommended’ delineation, because I’ll never post such a review on my blog.
    • If/when I read a Not Recommended book, I just won’t blog about it. After all, if you can’t say something nice about something, don’t say anything at all.

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