Savidge Reads Feedback Wanted #3… Marks Out Of Ten

I mull this question over in my mind quite a lot; in fact I did before I started doing it myself on the blog, and that is the question of giving books a mark out of ten? I don’t mean should I instead mark a book out of five, I mean should I be scoring them at all?

I have been thinking this as for both reasons of health in the last six months, and now reasons of prizes and some new projects coming up, and in a year when I have read so much how effective it is. Yes, it gives people a guideline (and I will always look at other peoples marks out of whatever on their blogs) but can you sum really up the experience and feeling (in some cases loosing you for hours and hours) that reading each book gives you and then just ending it with one of ten figures?

I have been looking back over my marks from the last few months, which have admittedly been more even and less filled with ‘the initial after reading glow or downer’ of a book, after all thoughts need to ferment and flourish or fade away. I have been looking at some and thinking did I really give x the same mark as y?

So I am wondering if I should stop. I would never normally give a book 1/10 or 2/10 because something that bad I wouldn’t finish, who has the time for books they aren’t enjoying? Life is too short. Maybe I should simply let the review say everything and lose the final sum of summing up? Maybe I should introduce some posts on books I simply can’t finish (there have been a few this year) but informing you all why? Though of course I wouldn’t call those ‘reviews’ on here.

What do you think? Do you like books given marks or, as one friend of mine said of me doing it ‘the author has created something for you, it’s not like you’re a teacher marking homework’? I would be interested in your thoughts.

P.S How could I not use that picture (which is from Scribbler) its hilarious, look at the lady on the left’s face! Oh and this is no reflection on other people who do give scores, I always look at theirs and I currently do it myself.

18 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

18 responses to “Savidge Reads Feedback Wanted #3… Marks Out Of Ten

  1. Carol Wong

    I sure can understand “for reasons of healtrh” in my situation. Just had call from a doctor’s office asking me if I could move my appointment up to tomorrow night. I had to say “no”. Then I realized that my reasons were valid and I did not have to feel guilty. Whew!!

    If it helps, skip the marks! Just do the review. Figuring out if this books’s “4” is equal is not worth the added stress!

  2. novelinsights

    For me I like it but I know what you mean about your feelings changing over time towards a book. Do what YOU feel like, it’s your blog!

    I LOVE that picture 🙂

  3. Scores are something is under constant debate within many industries. As someone who used to work within videogame journalism, scores were always a big topic. Technically, scores should never appear in a review. Writers spend a lot of time pouring their heart into the body of a review and of course this speaks in more nuance than a number.

    However, scoring will always happen, so why give it up? People will always compare books, opinions and scores, so doing away with them will take away the inquisitive who compare and those who want a quick answer to the question of “Do I want this book?”

    In my personal opinion, I hate them. There’s too much weight placed on these scores. PR agents will go to the score first and of course, aggregate websites use them (In fact in the games industry, pay bonuses are handed out based on those figures at the end of a review). To me, a number can never sum up an opinion. Whether you write 100 or 1000 words, the number will never live up to it.

    Ultimately, it’s your opinion. I’m sure that most visitors to your blog will always read your prose and the score is just the cherry on the top of the cake.

  4. It’s a problem I wrestled with when I started blogging. I decided not to score books because I just can’t apply a numerical value to something as variable/complex as the experience of reading a novel. Plus, the difference between adjacent, mid-table numbers like a 6 or 7 etc seems kinda arbitrary, and so not necessarily helpful, unless you have very strictly defined criteria: but that’s somewhat self-limiting, maybe? Then there’s the old chestnut of: does giving a book a 10 mean nothing could ever beat it? I’d give both ‘Infinite Jest’ by David Foster Wallace and ‘Revelation Space’ by Alastair Reynolds a 10: but they’re such different reading experiences that it’s sort of disingenuous to group them together in any way at all – they’d have the same mark, but aren’t at all alike, and they’ve both of very different (but good) quality.

    But don’t get me wrong: I do see the benefits of a marking system, especially when you don’t have time/patience to write a very in-depth review. Similarly, giving a book a 10 (or whatever) really screams to your audience that a book is exceptional.

    And I would love to read some negative reviews by yourself (of half-finished books etc.) It’s surprisingly good fun to vent your frustrations by trashing an inexcusably terrible book.

    Tom.

    p.s.: very surreal picture!

  5. I’m not really keen on the marks. If you are agonising over them I’d drop them. But if you enjoy it, carry on. (Not very helpful advice! sorry).

  6. gaskella

    I don’t mind marks – I do like the way they flag up books that bloggers really love or not, but anywhere inbetween is not necessarily so useful to anyone other than the scorer. However – I do give marks on my blog. I started off with marks out of 5, but there were so many half points needed that I moved to 10 – but even now I find myself giving halves – and even on one book I read recently I gave something like 7.3 to a book!!! But this mark does mean something to me, so I didn’t feel pretentious awarding it.

    I don’t always have enough time to thoroughly read every blog post in blogs I follow, so seeing a mark does help me to pick and choose which posts to give more attention to sometimes.

  7. Jo

    I also love the picture made me smile!

    I do not mark books on my blog. The only thing I do is score on Amazon with the stars, and to be honest I probably weigh heavily on 4 and 5 stars. It means not much to me! But I always look at the number of stars when I am possibly choosing a book to read! Go figure that out!

    As you have commented, we are not teachers marking books. Read them, enjoy them or not and then pick up the next. Life is too short.

  8. I would drive myself crazy if I tried to rank by number, so I don’t.

    I rate by using the same phrases and bolding which I think applies: read immediately/read as soon as you can/read when you get a chance/read if you’re bored. May seem silly, but it works for me.

  9. I don’t score books on my blog because I just find it impossible to sum up my feelings about a book in that way. How, for instance, do I make a distinction between a book that wasn’t very ambitious but was still very good at what it attempted to do and a book that shoots for the moon and doesn’t quite get there? It seems wrong to give the first book a higher score than the second, but it also seems wrong not to give it full marks for succeeding at what it attempts to do. I know a lot of people use stars to indicate their level of enjoyment of the book, but I find that difficult to boil down to a number. As you said, feelings change. I do score books on Goodreads and LibraryThing, but that’s mostly for sorting purposes, and I change them all the time. Somehow a score on the blog seems more official.

    That said, I of course don’t mind when other bloggers use ratings, although I don’t always look at them.

  10. The question of whether to publicise grades is one that I have changed my mind on several times during my blogging life. I started doing them, then stopped, and then started doing them again. My main reason for starting again – I grade of Goodreads and in my records so I might as well publicise that.

    Personally I like seeing a grade somewhere prominent – either at the top or the bottom, but not in the text) – as if it is a book that I might want to read and I don’t want any spoilers it gives me an instant understanding of how the reader felt about the book. Often that will also prompt me to read a review that I might have just skimmed over previously too.

  11. I agree with the friend of yours: ‘the author has created something for you, it’s not like you’re a teacher marking homework’.
    I never liked it on blogs, or anywhere else. Because how am I suppose to know what is 10 for the person writing this? Maybe your 10 is my 8 or other way round. I get much more from reading your opinion that from some score.

  12. I’ve never been able to give marks out of ten, yet I can give marks out of five with half numbers, which is something I’ll never understand. I like ratings because sometimes it can be difficult to judge whether a reviewer actually liked the book enough to recommend it. Ratings give you a general impression that introduces you to the rest of the content. I too wonder about it when I find I’ve rated books similarly yet they’re in different leagues, but then when I rate books I compare them first and foremost to other books in their own genre, then secondly to how they made me feel.

  13. Opinion’s divided here. I give marks out of 5 in my reviews. Hubby, the other blog-contributor, doesn’t. I’m unfortunately thinking of introducing a 5+ mark for books that really grab me in some shape or other – probably only one or two a year. As I read across a whole range of genres – children’s picture books, teen/YA, thrillers, chick lit, non-fiction – I’m not comparing them against each other, just trying to say how good (or bad) I found them. I think it’s helpful. You can quickly and easily get a general impression and then go on to read the review in full.

  14. On my blog I avoid placing a score on a piece of work for all the reasons you stated above. Quite frequently my ideas change on a book long after I have written about it, or long after I read it. I prefer to stick to a recommend – recommend completely – recommend with reservations – do not recommend approach. Rarely does this sentiment change after I have read a book. I’d suggest a similar approach perhaps. It is another means of scoring the books (this is the economist in me coming out) but it is significantly less defined and much more flexible for somebody to read into a bit more.

  15. I do not give marks but you can be critical if it was a hard book to finish, or too startling or brutal or whatever! love the photograph.

  16. I actually like seeing marks on other people’s blogs but I’m really crap at giving marks myself. I tend to overanalyse and then end up giving a middling mark which is probably unhelpful. But ultimately it’s subjective and your readers know that and they’ll still want to know why you gave that mark.

  17. Thanks for all your responses. I have got rid of the marks now, I am wondering if that was a wise idea or not, I am hoping though that now people read my reviews and can see how much I liked a book or not.

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