Accurately rating books can be tricky.
Recently, I published a post listing some books I gave five stars to that, in hindsight, weren’t five star reads. I then proceeded to decrease their star ratings on my Goodreads to what I now feel better represents my thoughts on the books.
As I went to publish that post, I wondered if it was something I should even be writing. Whether or not it was fair to go back and change a rating on a book that I read a year, or more, ago.
Obviously, I decided to upload my ramblings anyway. Still, the question stayed with me. Is it fair to change the rating of a book a while after you read it?
It’s a bit of a sticky situation. On the one hand, distance and time away from a story offers a different perspective to it. Some of the excitement of an anticipated release, for example, may wear off a few months after you’ve read it. Maybe then you realize it really wasn’t worthy of the rating that you gave it.
Or, maybe you read a book that you just find irritating, and you can’t seem to enjoy it. You give it a low rating and move on to the next one. But a few weeks later, you may look back and realize that, personally, you were just going through a tough time, and you ended up being way too cynical of that book. That distance and time helped you realize that you had rated the book unfairly.
Both of these things, to me, are good! Examining a book, and yourself, at a different point and time can be a very reflective and enlightening moment.
On the other hand, however, distance and time can make you forget about the things in the book that really stood out to. Looking at a book you read two years ago and wondering why you gave it four stars when you can’t remember much about it may not be helpful. After all, between then and now, you may’ve forgotten all the little things you loved about it. It may seem “meh,” now that it’s been a few years, but was it “meh” when you rated it?
But, I suppose, you could spin that argument in favor of changing ratings. Maybe if a book was truly all that great, or not-so-great, you’d be able to explain exactly why it was so fantastic months, or even years, after, because it left an impression on you.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with going back and changing ratings. It’s kind of like when you’re taking a math test. You don’t know the answer to a question, so you make a wild guess and keep going. But, as you do more and more problems, your memory gets jogged, and you can go back and make a more suitable answer. (Can you tell I’m procrastinating my precalculus homework as I draft this post?)
Bottom line is, reading is the same way! The more you read, the more experienced you come as a reader, and the better you get at analyzing books.
At the beginning of 2019, I made the conscious decision to review and rate books in a more critical fashion. Looking back, I can definitely see some books that I know I would’ve rated a lot lower had a read them this year rather than in 2017, or even 2018.
To me, changing ratings is a greater sign of growth than it is of indecision. You are allowed to evolve and grow as a reader, and your ratings should absolutely reflect that.
One solution that I’ve thought of to a lot of the problems mentioned in this post is to actually just wait a little bit after finishing a book to rate it in the first place, particularly if I feel indecisive about it. I think even an extra couple days can add some perspective. If I try this out and find that it works, I’ll you guys know!
That’s what I have for you guys today! What do you think about changing ratings long after reading? Do you ever do it, or prefer not to? Are there any book ratings you’ve gone back and changed over the years? Tell me in the comments! 🙂