This post was completely inspired by Josephine from Word Revel. Stop everything you are doing and go read her well articulated post right HERE. I will wait here for you to come back. She has some good points and shares it very thought out. Expect nothing similar here. While I LOVE words, I struggle picking the right ones :/
I have thought similar thoughts before, wondering if it is even worth rating a book with a rating system (stars, coffee cups, smiley faces). I have also witnessed several bloggers do away with their rating system completely because they found it too subjective. And I completely get it. Plus their reviews are still top notch and worth reading even without that expected star rating.
Will I do away with my rating system, loose as it is? I'm not sure yet. As much as I understand that rating books is so subjective, it is kind of stuck in my brain. Review a book, rate a book. Goes hand in hand, doesn't it? And what about when I want to review the book on Goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble?
And this is where the post's title finally comes in :) Reviews are important! I've said it before and I will say it again, when I see book bloggers saying they don't read reviews, I am shocked. You cannot just look at a blogger's book rating and assume you know how good the book will be. A book can be rated 5 stars by one friend and then only 2 stars by the next. So which is it? And what about your two friends who both rated it 4 stars but only one friend is truly raving about the book? Reviews hold the answers.
Reviews should explain why we liked or didn't like a book. They should easily convey to others who read the review what we believed made or broke the story. "Why did I like Book X? Well because the characters were relatable, realistic, and charming. But I didn't like the way Author carried the pace so slowly through the first half..." Someone should be able to read this and go 'Hey, I can see why Blogger rated it with 4 stars. When I read Book X, I can expect it to be a bit slow and that's okay'.
The review should explain and reinforce the rating. Reading will always be subjective, but a review helps others understand how you interpreted the book. Reviews offer clarity, sparks discussion and helps us relate to other readers, bloggers, authors, etc.
Could you ever do away with your rating system? Are the relevant any more? Other thoughts??