Sunday, 25 March 2012

Perspective: Why I Don't Use Star Ratings

Anyone who has been following my blog may notice that I don't give starred reviews. You may wonder why this is the case. After all, it helpfully places books and films into categories...

The reason I don't use stars is precisely because they helpfully place books and films into categories. These are pieces of art work that a writer, or director and film crew have worked for many days to create. It seems kind of unfair for one reader or viewer to come along and stamp these works with a rating. It's as though we're only interested in the product and not the creative process.

As well as being unfair to the writers, it also creates lazy audiences for art. People begin to base their choices of what to read, on a star rating. I would much rather read a review from someone who told me what they thought of the book/film/show without trying to condense it into an arbitrary score. There is an honesty in this approach which recognises a review for what it is: one person's opinion.

The fact is, we don't all like the same things. A five star review of an epic science fiction novel might translate to something I would find tedious and dull, but it doesn't mean it isn't worth something to people who enjoy reading that genre.

My reviews are rather informal, not especially critical or professional. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I write them for myself as much as for my readers. I enjoy mulling over the experience of reading or watching a film, and reflecting on its impact on me.

It's not an entirely self-indulgent exercise though, and I do hope you (invisible internet people) enjoy reading my opinions.


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