You may have noticed that I don't have ratings at the end of my reviews. Not that I haven't been tempted: think how cute my Underwood typewriter would look--a really good review would be "Five Underwoods."
As tempting as it is to use a rating system, so far I have resisted. Here are my reasons: 1) I often read and write about classics. Can I really rate the novels of George Eliot when I am not worthy to sit at her feet? Would I give Middlemarch "Five Underwoods" and then be forced to give The Mill on the Floss only four? 2) I've been known to change my mind. I used to think yellow was my favorite color, then it was green. Now I don't even have a favorite color. Suppose I post a review of a well-written thriller, giving it "Four Underwoods"? Later, I realize the book has faded for me. But a book I read and would have rated lower has more staying power; in retrospect I would rate it higher. Which leads me to 3) When I review a book, I try to communicate to readers whether they might like the book. I do convey a sense of my personal response, but also try to somewhat objectively convey the strengths and weaknesses of the book. The reader can then draw her own conclusions about whether this is a book for her. Ratings seem to be an oversimplification, something I try to resist. 4) The idea of assigning ratings is too much like assigning grades. Bleh.
For those of you who skim through reviews, and just want to know--"should I read it?"--the answer is in the last paragraph. That's where I tend to give my impression of the overall quality of the book, the major strengths and weaknesses; I also give my opinion of what kind of reader will like the book. If I can think of an apt comparison, I will put that in the last paragraph too (for instance, if you like Lee Childs, you will probably like Stieg Larsson's trilogy, or if you enjoy well-written memoir, you will like this). I think that helps the reader as much as or more than a rating system--because my two star book might be your three star book.
I'd like to know what you think, dear readers. Do you like rating systems? As a reviewer, do you use them? As a reader, do you rely on them? Have you changed your mind about a rating? How did you handle that? Do tell!