I used to have so much fun giving books stars on Goodreads but recently, I’ve erased all of them. On my blog, instead of giving reviews, I give descriptions. This is why:
1. Negative reviews keep people from reading books. No matter the book, a writer’s goal should be to get books in people’s hands, not take them away.
“What about positive reviews?” you ask. They’re definitely a good thing, but at some point, you’ll probably have to lie. I’m tempted to give five stars to all my friends, for example. Besides, if you give rate all the books you like, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that you didn’t like the other books you read.
2. Taste is so subjective that reviews are pointless. There’s a particular number one bestseller that I despise. It made me want to blow up humanity to save us from the plague of evil and suffering.
I met someone who loved it and asked what on earth she saw in such a disturbing book. She made some good points and I can see now how it can be valuable. If I went on a public rant about the horrors of this novel, people could have missed out on a book they might have loved.
3. I often feel a certain way about a book one day and feel completely differently the next. Some books I loved in childhood, I think are stupid now. I still don’t know how I feel about As I Lay Dying. I’ll probably scratch my head over that one for the rest of my life.
4. What are we rating, anyway? Lonesome Dove was a Pulitzer-winning masterpiece and I greatly enjoyed it, but I didn’t adore it, so I gave it four stars. Garden Spells is a simple but fabulous romance that swept me away, so I gave it five stars. In what universe should a romance get a higher rating than a Pulitzer-winner? I also gave four stars to one of my favorite books of all time because it had some structural issues.
It just doesn’t make sense. Novels – and readers – are too complicated to summarize in a number.
5. Lastly, let’s not forget the Golden Rule. Someday you’re going to need support from other authors, and you should build up good karma now.