Hello everyone! Today will be a bit of an unusual post, but it is something I have wanted to do for a long time.
Towards the end of 2016, I read a lot of good books. I have been reading a lot of good books in 2017 too. Before 2016 though? I didn’t make great reading choices. I read a lot of books that were hyped up or ‘popular’, rather than reading books that truly interested me. But now that I’ve been making much better book choices, I have discovered some truly phenomenal books that have, essentially, changed the paradigm.
I like rating books. Although rating a book from 1 – 5 is flawed and overly simplistic, my approach to rating is relative — namely relative to other books I have read. I like four starred books better than 3, and think 1 starred books are the worst books I’ve read. With new reads and new favourites, books I rated 5 stars in 2014 are no longer the best books I’ve read – I’ve discovered new books that are better.
Which is why, today, I’ll be re-rating a ton of books and sharing my justifications of why I have decreased or increased their rating. I acknowledge that how I felt about a book when I first read is valid, perhaps even more so than in hindsight, but for me, I cannot rate everything 5 stars – that would be inaccurate and a poor reflection of how I feel about a particular book. I want my ratings to, as accurately as possible, reflect on where I think a book stands.
1. I’ll be rounding down, unless specified otherwise.
2. I’d like to think that I have good memory of the books I have read over the years (and if a book is forgettable, well!), so I have not re-read the books to justify their re-rates.
3. I am a very big emotional rater – I rate books when I’m on emotional highs, which make me like/dislike a book more than I ordinarily would.
4. Five-starred books are reserved for absolute favourites. If I’ve rated a book five-stars, I’m talking real serious business.
5. If I don’t remember the book’s story (probably because it’s been a long time since reading it), I will remove the rating.
6. I tend to rate things higher than I should (i.e. out of sympathy or emotion) so don’t be alarmed by the decreases!
7. For fun, my Goodreads average rating before adjustments: 3.21
So without further ado!
Re-rated to five stars
Animal Farm by George Orwell – Initially rated 4, but the other day I was explaining Orwell’s work to my dad and realized, holy shit, this book is so eloquent and good.
Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee – Initially rated four because I was still on an emotional high after reading Not Your Sidekick. Though it isn’t a 5 for me (a higher 4.5), this book is still so special and lovely and definitely one of my favourites.
Re-rated to four stars
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – I loved this book and enjoyed it so so much, but I am critical of this book, specifically regarding its cultural appropriation, its heteronormativity, the twisted ‘feminism’, manipulative writing (the list goes on), and I cannot, in good conscience, give this a 5.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – Don’t get me wrong – I love this book, and I loved its themes and its writing. It just doesn’t quite make a favourite or a 5 for me – it is more of a 4.5
Atonement by Ian McEwan – One of the first books I read when I started to read seriously in high school, though it affected me greatly at the time and it is still a fantastic and masterful work of literature, parts of Robbie’s narrative bored me. It just took me years to be honest with myself.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman – This book is incredible, and the portrayal of mental illness was powerful and immersive. I can’t quite put it to words, but it isn’t a five for me – a 4.5 is more appropriate.
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn – This was my first read that portrayed mental illness as something complex and nuanced, which is why I loved it so much. After reading more books about mental illness, it is no longer a 5 for me.
Golden Son by Pierce Brown and Red Rising by Pierce Brown – Similarly to The Winner’s Curse, these two books have been adjusted because Morning Star was my favourite (by quite a bit) in the series.
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer Smith – This is still a poignant, raw and emotional book, but it isn’t quite a 5 for me, more of a 4.5 now that my feelings about this book are at ease.
How To Be Popular by Meg Cabot – I loved this book as a teen, and I remember how much reading this resonated with me. This book taught me how to be brave, how to be myself, how popularity (something I thought was important as a teen) was just a meaningless construct. I haven’t read this book in a long time, but I still remember it, and I remember how it affected me.
Into White by Randi Pink – I still love this book, but after reviewing it, I realized that I held onto the small parts I connected with too closely. A good book, but not a 5 – particularly with some of the flaws I cannot look past.
The Last Question by Isaac Asimov – Still fantastic, so insightful for its time, and highly recommended, I recently read another short story, The Waves by Ken Liu, which was probably inspired by The Last Question, but I thought The Waves was better.
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski – I loved this book so much when I read it, but relative to the other books in the series, I love The Winner’s Crime (which remains a five) significantly more than I do The Winner’s Curse. Adjusted to reflect the differentiation of opinion within the series.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – I bawled my eyes out after reading this book; I felt so, so, so much emotion. Though I still think it’s a splendid and deeply affecting book, it isn’t quite a 5 for me.
Re-rated to three stars
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Look, the book is good, objectively good, but I fooled myself into liking it much more than I actually do. ADSOM is more of a 3.5 for me.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – It took me three months to finish this book, and honestly, I think cognitive dissonance kicked my butt so hard that I ‘liked’ this book more than I actually did. It’s a good book, a classic, but didn’t click with me.
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas – Rated this 4 initially because I gave Throne of Glass a three, and I had liked CoM more than ToG – both have been lowered in rating.
Dracula by Bram Stroker – A classic, one of the first that I ever read (willingly) but I felt obligated to like it because it was a classic. In truth, a good book, but not fantastic.
Fables, Vol 1 by Bill Willingham – To be honest, Saga changed the graphic novel game for me.
Free to Fall by Lauren Miller – I really enjoyed this book, loved how it introduced a lot of dystopian concepts in an accessible and interesting story, but I’ve just read better books since then. A 3.5.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jae Kristoff – This book gave me such an emotional high after reading. An original and creative book with a compelling narrative, but in hindsight does not have much thematic nuance as I had initially imposed.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Another classic but I ‘liked’ it out of obligation. There’s a strange stigma around not liking classics, especially ones as loved as P&P. I appreciate this book, it’s a good read, but definitely not a 4 for me.
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins – A fluffy-bunny-of-a-book and I enjoyed how funny and charming it was, but time has worn down its charm. A good and fun book, but I’ve just read better. Adjusted to 3.5.
A Thousand Worlds With You and Ten Thousand Skies Above You Claudia Gray – A good, sweeping story but, no longer a 4 for me. I’ve read better books since then.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – Certainly an excellent work of fiction, but I read this years ago and have read so many other books that I like more. Not quite a five read for me anymore, so it is a 3.5.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – A great book, but a book I read early in my reading career; I’ve read better WWII books since. An affecting book, just not quite a 4 for me. 3.5 is more appropriate.
The Hiding Places by Catherine Robertson – This was one of the first ARC’s I had ever received, so had no idea how to be honest with my opinions; the fact that it was an ARC definitely influenced my perception of the novel. Re-rated because I’m being honest with myself now.
The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead – It was a fun read at the time, but, it wasn’t particularly special.
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – A good book and (SO, SO) much better than the movie, but no longer a four for me – 3.5 is a more accurate rating.
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson – Enjoyed it very much at the time, but in hindsight, it was decent. Plus, Under a Painted Sky, which has a very similar plot, was far more enjoyable (and that was a 4 for me).
Where She Went by Gayle Foreman – Though I still liked If I Stay (even though it was bloody manipulative), Where She Went was poignant but marginally not as good as its predecessor. Now a 3.5 for me.
Re-rated to two-stars
Nirvana by J.R. Stewart – The first eARC I received through NetGalley – I was so damned excited that I read it. I didn’t know how to let this book down easy. To be honest, it wasn’t that fantastic at all.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Made me cry like a baby, but it took me years to realize that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good book. It packs an emotional punch but otherwise it’s just… okay?
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – To be honest, I liked it because it was the ‘in’ book at the time and everyone loved it. I did not want to be a black sheep. But to be super super honest? This book was meh.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – In my young spring chicken days, I rage-rated this a one-star after my friend berated me for ‘disliking a book just because she liked it and it was popular’. It was the most inane ‘argument’ I have ever been in. Needless to say, I didn’t like this book because Collins is not a good writer and the story is stilted BUT I acknowledge and appreciate the contributions this book has made in help shape people’s understanding of socio-political problems — enough that it necessitated a two.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas – Not utterly terrible, but not good either. I felt this way when I first rated it, but it feels like a I-don’t-know-how-to-rate-this-average-as-book-so-I-guess-a-2.
Re-rated to one star
Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie – My initial 2 star rating was mostly a sympathy rating – a I feel bad for giving this a crap rating sort of rating. I don’t feel bad anymore.
Removed ratings – need to re-read one day (… maybe)
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King – I remember loving this book so much when I read it in 2014, but I just really don’t remember why I liked it so much. Possibly because it was one of the first books that had a very poignant and raw portrayal of grief? I don’t remember. Removed rating because I’m not confident in the four-starred rating.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – I read this book when I was in high school, loved it, but recently discovered that this book misrepresents autism. I also don’t remember this book too well, so given the possibility that it may be a misrepresentation of autism, have removed my rating. I will probably not re-read this.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – I read this to just say I had read it, not because I wanted to engage with the story and its ideas. I went through a phase. Removed the rating and will re-read this someday.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – This one is a little weird for me – I’ve seen a lot of criticisms about it lately so I don’t know how to feel about this book anymore. For the most part, I remember enjoying it a little bit but I want to read it again with a critical eye. On the other hand, frankly this series does not interest me. So, removed the rating for now.
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – I read this book when I was in high school and cannot remember the book at all. Removed the rating.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them by J.K. Rowling – I read this it was first released in 2001, and I just cannot remember it at all.
The whole Peeps series and Uglies series by Scott Westerfield – Read this in high school, don’t remember a damn. But holy hell, that summary makes the book sound so awesome?!
And that pretty much concludes my ‘great re-rate’ — which, I know, is a pretty melodramatic name, but it was a placeholder name for this post and it just stuck.
I probably won’t be doing another one of these for awhile since I’m fairly confident in my rating abilities (for now!) but who knows? People change, I’ll inevitably change, my tastes my change, and I’ll continue reading more and more books that will change my perspective and redefine a good book versus a fantastic book.
For fun: after re-rating everything on Goodreads, my Goodreads average is now 3.12!
- Do you re-rate books? If yes, when do you re-rate them? Do you have a re-rate policy?
- If you don’t re-rate books, how come? When do you think it’s okay to re-rate books?
- Would you publish a post about all your re-rates? If you have published a post, please share it with me!