(I devised this back in 2013 when working out what my scoring system should be for reviewing books for Starburst Magazine. I still stand by it!)
I love reading: getting lost in an excellent narrative, being swept away for a memorable trip in a short story, or emotionally moved by poetic lyrics. Wandering around in fantastical worlds of words. I also like book reviewing; I’ve been done this for a few publications where the word count often forces a pithy response. I do have genre favourites: poetry, plays, books on education, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction with a focus on social justice, short stories, and books which have an element of magical realism. However, I enjoy reading widely and WLTM exciting new books!
The thing that I’m not doing is true blogging on books; there are myriad good book bloggers writing sensible commentary elsewhere on the amorphous universe that is the Internet. Two of the best, in my opinion, are Juxtabook (solid reviewing and loads of links to everything book related) and The Book Stop (regularly updated with reviews, pretty and accessible WordPress site design, and excellent musings on the industry).
I believe that excellent book bloggers, like excellent literary critics, have the power to make or break a book. I do not hold the opinion that book bloggers harm traditional criticism. Instead, bloggers add another valid, and valuable, dimension to debate.
I seek brevity when reviewing, and try to approach a new, unread book with an open mind. However, book reviewing – like any art – is incredibly subjective; especially when it comes to scoring for a review. So, while I’m not a fan of quantifying a book with a number, I thought I’d explain my rationale when rating a book out of ten:
Top of the Pops!
5: Good storyline, entertaining with no intellectual engagement. I’d recommend that you get this book out from a library. Once.
6: Engaging book with some surprising elements. Original storyline and thinking. I’d get this out from a library again to re-read.
7: This book has a good narrative with a good ending or solid concept. I would buy this book.
8: Great book. Unique concept, good storyline (or fantastic verse). I would buy the book and recommend that others should buy it.
9: Excellent book. I would recommend it highly. I would buy copies for family and friends.
10: The book has blown me away. It is intelligent, engaging and exceptionally well crafted. I would hit the streets to hand out copies of this book. I will be wearing a sandwich board that says: “Read this book before you die.”
Any book receiving less than 5/10 was probably an endurance test for my eyes. I would not recommend it.
4: I made it to the end but it was a poor story with a weak ending. Why was this commissioned/self-published?!
3: Poor concept for a story with poor editing. Ow, my eyes.
2: Weak, poorly thought through storyline, hackneyed concept/s, weak to minimal editing. I never want to read this again.
1: Weak, poorly thought through storyline. The narrative is not dealt with in any satisfactory way. There is no evidence of editing. Reading this book made me feel like I had wasted precious hours of my life. I want those hours back.
0: Normally this would not be awarded – the book would have to be bilious, the writing unintelligible, and editing non-existent. I haven’t met a 0 rated book yet, there’s always a first time…