Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Reviews

by Carlene Havel
Re-posted from Prism Book Group Blog

Posted: 28 Jan 2014 08:48 AM PST
The rating systems of retail giants such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble have popularized a “five star” scale. “My book just got five stars!!” no longer needs any explanation. This is Amazon’s breakdown of star equivalencies:

One Star = I hate it
Two = I don’t like it
Three = It’s okay
Four = I like it
Five = I love it

I have no statistics, but my sense is that ones and twos are rare. Book descriptions include genre, length, and a “blurb” about the contents. These allow readers to select according to their tastes, steering customers away from choices not to their liking. However, even the classics collect a smattering of hate or don’t like reviews – often mentioning homework assignment as the purpose for reading the book.

The stars do not stand alone. Most review sites request or require a few words to clarify the basis for a rating. Here’s a sampling that may spark your interest:

A one star review calls a well-known classic often read in high school “…dull and uninteresting.”

A reader gave one star to another classic, noting “I read maybe the first three pages and got bored.” It’s not clear whether this dear soul soldiered on through the whole book or wrote the one star review on the basis of the first three pages!

How about this three-star justification? “I didn't read this. I just want this off my non-reviewed list. I went over my head getting books that I didn't really had the time to read. I may get it again who knows, but I doubt it. I gave it a middle rating so it won’t alter good nor bad this book as I don’t know if it deserves bad or good review. Sorry and thanks for understanding.” Wow – never read the book, probably never will, but writing a review??

I wonder if someone had the rating scale backwards, when this text showed up with a one star rating: “…an amazing book off u like the old west than you’ll love this book it has everything an amazing gun fighter by the way I’m12.”

Why bother writing a review? One reason is to help other readers decide whether or not a book is for them. Another is to encourage (or, if necessary, chastise) the author.

What a thrill it is to wake up on a dreary winter morning, open up a website, and spot a few pleasant words from a satisfied reader. Don’t writers get paid? Yes, though much less than most readers might think–only a few top authors make their living writing. It’s similar to the situation with athletes. Professional superstars make a bundle, but most folks play as amateurs because they love the game. Both groups crave the crowd’s cheers, whether they come from a packed stadium or a sprinkle of determined parents huddled on bleachers in the snow.

From kindergarteners collecting stickers to performers on the stage, we all enjoy a pat on the back for a job well done. If you've read a book recently and loved it, please take a few minutes to write a review and make those stars twinkle!

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