Chit Chats

Chit Chat: Different Standards for Different Books

Let’s discuss valuing books differently. 

So ever since I made a profile on Goodreads, I have been looking at my books through star ratings. I am someone who enjoys numbers and structure, so thinking about my books in terms of ratings really suits me. It helps me narrow down my feelings for a book and it’s generally helpful. However, I am perfectly aware that I can’t really think of each and every book in terms of the same 5 star rating system. Which leads me to my point – I have different standards for appraising books.

wheredoesthiscomefromI am a very eclectic reader. My two favorite genres are Literary Fiction and Fantasy, but I read almost everything. I read contemporaries, I read sci fi, I read romance, crime – you name it, I’ll probably be open to reading it (except historical fiction, I can’t stand it). I also read a lot of YA, and I read different genres within YA. And all of these genres are quite different, so naturally I tend to rate books differently within each genre.

notjustNot only that the genres are different, my expectations are different within each genre. For example, I don’t read a lot of crime novels. So when I pick one up, I expect entirely different things from it than someone who reads these all the time. If I am intrigued by the mystery, I am all set, and for someone else, that mystery might be entirely predictable, because they read a lot of thrillers. Also, when I read romance, the only thing I expect is great characters and great chemistry. The writing can be mediocre, the plot can be predictable or unbelievable, and yet I could love the book. Those things I would never allow in books from other genres, and in romance I almost always do.

demandsThat’s another thing. If I am for example reading Fantasy, I have a lot of demands that need to be met. I need good world building, an engaging plot, really solid characters, good writing and preferably a well thought out magic system. And yes, that’s a lot. I also have really high demands when it comes to Literary Fiction. It’s all about the writing and the characters, but on a whole other level. Those books are held to the highest possible standard.

familiarityAs you can see, I expect the most from Fantasy and Literary Fiction. Those are also my favorite and most read genres. So the question is – are the books from genres we are most familiar with the ones that have really high standards to reach? It seems to be so. When you read a lot of stuff from one genre, you have a lot of things to compare with. And some books can’t stack up. But when I read a thriller, I don’t have a lot to compare to. It’s easier to impress me. This doesn’t apply to romance, since I read a lot of it, it’s all super repetitive and my expectations are continuously low.

comparing ratingsI don’t think that my ratings are necessarily comparable. When I rate a Literary Fiction 3 stars, it’s objectively better than a 5 star romance read for me. Better as in the writing is probably more tight, the plot is more believable, it’s less tropey. But that doesn’t change the fact that for me, at the time, one was a 3 star read and the other one was a 5 star read. Which leads me to my conclusion:

experienceI don’t think we rate a book as is. I think when you rate a book, you rate the reading experience as a whole. And since you have different expectations and standards for books, your experience of them reflects that, which then translates into your rating. We consume books as a whole, as a whole event, at a certain point in time and place, and I think our rating reflect that experience.

anthingtoadd2So those are my thoughts on different standards for different books. I’d love to hear from you? Books of which genres have to meet the highest standard for you? Where are your expectations low? Let me know!


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22 thoughts on “Chit Chat: Different Standards for Different Books

  1. Yes, I read a lot of thrillers and not so many get a five star rating because I have so many criteria and one of them is that there must be a motive, not just someone who’s a crazy killer but real reasons.. I’ve read enough novels where this was not developed enough though. For romance I need to feel emotional and if it can make me cry it’s def a five star read. That doesn’t happen a lot though. Great post, really got me thinking!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow what a great, detailed, well-written discussion! You perfectly put into words what I have been thinking about a bit as well. I definitely have different expectations, especially when it comes to the genres I read! When it comes to my favorite and most read genre Fantasy, I can certainly figure out plot twists easier, so they have to be really good to surprise me! However, while I have certain expectations for Fantasy books, I tend to be more critical with genres I don’t read that often – so contrary to what you have figured out for yourself. Personally, a contemporary (a genre I’m more picky with) has to be really good to get a high rating, because if I pick up a book in this genre I want something that will blow me away 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Oh that’s interesting and I totally see how that could happen! It takes more for you to be intrigued by a genre that you don’t reach for that often. I think that’s probably the case for me with historical fiction – it would take A LOT for me to enjoy a historical fiction novel, and I rarely reach for those books

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s exactly how it is for me, I need a bit of convincing when it comes to contemporary books 😀 I find that especially if you don’t reach for something often there need to be many reasons to get you to read out of your comfort zone!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I totally relate. I suppose because what I’m looking for from each genre is different, it depends how well each book meets those particular expectations. Like, from a thriller I want a gripping plot and good atmosphere, but with literary fiction I want a real focus on characters and lyrical writing.

    I also agree about generally having higher expectations from genres you’re more familiar with. I’ve found I’m becoming a more critical reader these days, and I think it’s because of that very reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow you make a really good Cade here. I tend to hold fantasy and sci fi books I read to a high standard and I don’t hold romance novels to any standard at all cause I don’t expect much for them. So I’m kind of harder on fantasy and sci fi books when I want to review them. You write some great discussion posts, tell me all your secrets pls

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What an amazing post, and I think you are right we are harsher towards genres we love, or genres we are use to reading than those we don’t… I also noticed that I do have different standards when it comes to different types of books regardless if it’s something I’m use to reading or not… I don’t judge a Fantasy the same way that i judge a contemporary…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was thinking about this just yesterday! I personally love middle-grade novels, and I find them easier to rate 5 stars because they’re targeted for younger audiences. On the other hand, YA is targeted for teens (whom I already consider adults to be frank) so I’m infinitely harsher on those books. Terrific discussion post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I completely agree that we rate genres differently. I might rate an average contemporary 3 stars but if I read a murder mystery that was average but didn’t meet all my expectations it might only get 2 stars.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I totally relate to this! I find I have very different expectations for say a historical fiction compared to a high fantasy or scifi book. It is interesting how we approach these books in such different ways

    Liked by 1 person

  9. BRAVO for this post! Everything about this feels so so accurate. I definitely have higher standards for contemporaries than anything else, and it’s harder to get 5 stars there. And I agree with the romance rating. If it has great characters and a great romance and great character growth, I’ll rate it 5 stars. I don’t care if it isn’t as literary complex as another book. I don’t care if it doesn’t tackle as important a subject. Because like you said, it is about how we experience. We all have our certain pet peeves when it comes to books, and if I enjoy the book without that and it hits me in a certain place, it gets a high rating. Even if it technically less good than a literary classic I didn’t enjoy as much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, I am so glad you enjoyed it! Exactly my point. And that’s the wording I was looking for – literary complex. While I don’t think a certain book can be objectively better or worse, it can definitely be more or less literary complex. You put that perfectly!

      Liked by 1 person

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