"So, I wonder if book evaluation is trumping self-evaluation. I wonder if we get so caught up in gushing or bashing, shining up those stars or taking them away, that the reading experience is weighed too heavily on the side of the book itself and not enough on the reader. After all, reader is more important than book. Reader is the one who changes from reading, not the book. Reader is the one who lives the magic of storytelling."As a reader, I do feel like I haven't placed enough emphasis on self-evaluation. I should think more about reasons for my reactions to books, especially when I dislike a book. Those feelings and issues sometimes come out when I write a review, but I think those things are more appropriate in my head - not to mention they are much more difficult for me to express. Perhaps if I were a more skilled writer (and had more free time) I could make my reviews more self-evaluative. But, I'm not sure they would be all that helpful for someone looking for a book to read (which is one purpose for this blog).
I'd like to think my reviews are not so much "gushing" or "bashing" but more of an evaluation of what I thought of the book. I think that any review is going to be based mainly on the reviewer's subjective opinion. While I do think it is possible to objectively evaluate some elements of writing, those things are not usually why I want to read a book. I don't seek out books solely for the writer's ability to follow rules and guidelines (though good writing can be a draw, but then again what is good writing? etc etc). I read a book for enjoyment and escapism, knowledge and understanding. Those things can be found in books written with all kinds of styles and even all kinds of ability levels.
My reviews are subjective. I write them to let people know a little about the story, a little about what I liked or didn't like, and what types of possibly objectionable material may be in a book. The overall rating really is just how much I liked or didn't like it. It has no translatable objective purpose. The rating will differ from one person to the next, just as enjoyment will differ.
One of the things I enjoy about reading other book blogs is the huge range of opinions. I can read glowing reviews of a book and then mediocre ones for the same book. This doesn't confuse or aggravate me, it usually piques my interest. If a book has very strong reactions from both sides, I think that is a good indication that I should pick it up and try for myself.
Anyway, do any of you have thoughts on giving ratings or being more self-evaluative and less book-evaluative? Do you look at ratings or skip them over completely?