The Leaning Cow

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Rating books on Amazon and GoodReads

July 22nd, 2015 ·No Comments

There are five blank stars and your job as a rater of the book you have just read – or maybe one you read 25 years ago – is to fill in the number or stars that reflect your opinion of the book. This is not unlike the 1-10 pain scale in doctors’ offices where 10 is supposed to be the worse pain you have ever felt. Well, if you are not moaning and grimacing and whimpering, I’d said you don’t have a 10, but I’ve been informed some people calmly say “Eleven.”

Well, put that out of your mind for now and just think of the book rating scale of 1-5. This is so unfair; it does not take into consideration the reader’s mood. Sometimes you gear a book to what you want to experience at the moment, and not just in topics. For instance, if you are sitting in a waiting area to have your oil changed and the chairs are uncomfortable and there is no drink machine and the TV is high on the wall and playing one of those totally mindless game shows, just about anything to read would be appreciated. It might have the quality of a minus 1, but in that circumstance, it could easily seem a three.

Are you reading to relax? A fanciful and somewhat – okay, really unbelievable story – might fit the bill. You might actually groan at a well-written book with long, complex sentences because you are in the mood for: Greta looked out a the people seated and saw her proud parents as she received her summa cum laude degree at Stanford. There was no time for hugs afterwards, though, as she had to hurry to pose for pictures with the one other Olympic Gold Medal winner athlete in her class. That planned routine, that happy moment was shattered when gunmen wearing Obama masks stormed the gathering and kidnapped Susan’s father, the senator from Wyoming who was the leading contender for his party’s nomination for president. Buck Allscout, a Rhodes Scholar and Greta’s boyfriend, jumped up to thwart the action, but he stopped mid-step, grabbed his chest and collapsed as pustules erupted within seconds over his body. Blood flowed from the side of his mouth as he uttered his last words: Bud of the Rose. The lady who had been standing next to Buck screamed as she saw a giant bubo start to blossom on her hand. Despite her elegant appearance, she yelled, “F*CK!”

So is this a five star? Uh, I’m thinking not, but when you’re feeling low and want a distraction, it might just beat “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”

I think anyone rating/reviewing a book should let it be known what he/she likes to read. Then, again, some people write very good prose as they pen books such as, oh, The Slut of Sacramento. Others may take a shared human emotion and reduce it to a cliche, with a misplaced comma and maybe a misspelling.

Still, a reader can put up with a lot if the subject is one that captivates him. I know; I’ve grimaced at chopped-up sentences in books about espionage.

Some books are so full of elegant sentences that is is hard to leave each one to go to the next, but maybe the story is a bore.

And then there are the books – and I am generous with that noun – that are composed of nothing but dialogue. Talk about needing a wall to bang your head against. But that’s my opinion. I really don’t like to trash a book with just using stars as a rating. Of course, if one knows AmeliaJake, then the number of stars would have some relevance, but beyond that, it’s all up for grabs.

Those stars – such a responsibility. And once I said a book was well-written, but I didn’t care for the topic . . . and the author trashed me in an email. Sigh.

Tags: Just Me - AmeliaJake · The Peanut Butter Cafe & Roadhouse

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