Glens Falls (NY) Online Book Discussion Group discussion

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ABOUT BOOKS AND READING > What's your opinion of the meaning of the number of stars assigned to a book?

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message 1: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited May 01, 2015 11:42AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments I'm asking for your opinion here. I just now gave one star to a book which I didn't finish; I read only about 35 pages. See my review here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

MY QUESTION: Do you think it's fair that I assigned a "star-assessment" (one star) to this book when I had read only 35 pages of it?

Because I not only found those pages uninteresting, but I also didn't like the style of writing (including the personality/attitude of the protagonist), I felt that I could definitely assign only one star because the one star reflects MY opinion of the book and not the actual artistic or literary merit of the book.

What do you think?

Furthermore, what do you think the star-assignment of a reader should signify? Should it reflect how much the reader enjoyed a book? Or should it reflect the potential worth of a book over-all?


message 2: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited May 01, 2015 12:44PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments PS-I decided to give only one star to another book of which I had only read a few pages. See my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

IMO, a bad beginning deserves one star because it prevents me from wanting to read further. The same goes with movies with boring beginnings! As they say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" LOL (That's a quote from the 1976 award-winning movie "Network" with Peter Finch.)
http://neilchughes.com/2014/07/15/im-...
SEE/HEAR IT ON YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGIY5...


message 3: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments My opinion as to the One Star rating you gave the book in question(i did read your review) is you gave your honest appraisal. I see no problem with that. I think sometimes if there is an interesting Prologue that grabs my attention, I don't mind as much struggling through a slow beginning as I know it is going to get better. I usually try to get through our book selection for my book club but there are times when I just can't make myself read past the first few pages and I feel my opinion to the members constututes the same as you giving one star. Does this answer your question Joy as far as I'm concerned?


message 4: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments As for the Star ratings overall, I think they mostly are helpful even if I don't always agree with them. It's the same as a book listed on the NYT book review list. I might not agree; more often than not, I don't but I have to say I am interested in reading it as I am for the Star ratings.


message 5: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Thanks for answering my question, Nina.

You mentioned prologues. I don't know why, but I don't like books with prologues, even if they are an accepted device in telling a story. I am eager to get into the story. A prologue gives me the feeling that I must struggle through it before I can get to the story. I always see it as an obstacle.

The more I am given the opportunity to review a book here on Goodreads, the more I seem willing to voice my criticisms. As you say, we give our "honest appraisal". Of course, we are all coming from different points in our literary development. Also, we all have different tastes. We have to remember that as we read the reviews of others.


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6318 comments I've had people object to my giving a book a 1 star rating when I haven't finished it. I disagree & still assign them to partially read books. 1 star means I didn't like it. If I don't want to finish it, that's probably the case. I don't put a star rating on books if I think I'm in a bad mood, which happens, but if I gave it an honest shot & didn't like it, 1 star is assigned.


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6318 comments Another consideration: Book reviews without a star rating don't show up in community reviews. I'm not sure if they do even for friends. A lot of my reading is influenced by reviews so, if I want to influence others that helps me make my decision.


message 8: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments I asked a writer friend of mine what her answer would be to your question and she said, "I think if you gave a one star rating to a book that you aren't going to finish that is one thing but if you think you can get through the book and in your mind as you read it in the begining it is not so good but by the tme you actually finish it you could change your mind about the one star. I think that has happened to me, Joy. I actually have changed my mind about a book, "Me Before You," is an example. I thought I won't read this , I don't like it. And then I thought it one of the best books I've read. Fascinating, in fact. And I bet if you don't like prologues you probably don't like epilogues, Am I right? I think your question is mind boggleing. My writing critique teacher says a story should start with a hook and I do bet you agree on that..


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6318 comments Another thing I think about before giving a book a low star rating is how many reviews it has. If it is a new author & their first book, I prefer to criticize in private. A book with 50,000 reviews isn't going to suffer much overall from one bad review. A book with only a few reviews will, though.


message 10: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments Good point, Jim. Critiques can hurt.


message 11: by Werner (new)

Werner Joy, the definitions Goodreads assigns to each of the star ratings are definitely based on the reader's own subjective degree of liking for the book, not his/her view of its literary merit. In choosing a book to read, it helps me much more to know how a fellow reader actually liked it (or didn't) than it does to have a star rating based on what he/she thought, or was told, about its literary merit, especially if I don't know what "literary merit" means to the reviewer.

I don't give star ratings to books I didn't finish, but that's just my personal practice; I don't see anything at all unethical about doing so. If you didn't finish a book, that's a pretty good indication in itself that you weren't liking whatever part of it that you did read; and that response of not liking is just as legitimate as it would be if you had forced yourself to read the whole thing.


message 12: by Nina (last edited May 02, 2015 01:40PM) (new)

Nina | 6067 comments I think Werner has a good point Sometimes I have changed my mind about a book/forced myself to finish and lo and behold I liked it. I see nothing wrong with a one star rating if you feel you don't want to finish the book/that is more meaningful than no rating at all.


message 13: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Thanks for your posts. They make good sense. I haven't been getting notifications from Goodreads. I just discovered these posts today after signing on.

Nina, to answer your question, I don't mine epilogues. They're OK with me. The reason I mind prologues is that they seem to be an obstacle to my starting the meat of the story.


message 14: by Nina (last edited May 09, 2015 01:01PM) (new)

Nina | 6067 comments Joy, I just finished reading a book that I read twenty five years ago. I liked it then or I wouldn't have read it again. A friend suggested I read it this time so we could discuss how our views of it changed or didn't change with time. The book is, "A Woman of Independent Means," by Elizabeth Hailey. Have you ever read it long ago or recently? A priest friend of mine who I exchange books with just gave me one that starts out with a bang so I had to keep reading. "A Map of Betrayal," by Ha Jin. first line: My mother used to say, "Lillian, as long as I'm alive you must have nothing to do with that woman."


message 15: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited May 09, 2015 01:11PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "Joy, I just finished reading a book that I read twenty five years ago. I liked it then or I wouldn't have read it again. A friend suggested I read it this time so we could discuss how our views of of it changed or didn't change with time. The book is, "A Woman of Independent Means," by Elizabeth Hailey. Have you ever read it long ago or recently? ..."

I haven't read that book, Nina. I'll look into it: A Woman Of Independent Means

That first line in A Map of Betrayal sounds like a good hook! :) I've put the book on my "keep in mind" shelf. Thanks. Maybe I will put in on my "to read" shelf. :)


message 16: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments The book I mentioned is set in China in the beginning. It is a story of a man's daughter trying to trace his life as a Chinese and American spy. So far it's pretty fascinating. The woman her mother referrs to is the protaganist's father's mistress.


message 17: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited May 09, 2015 01:18PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments PS-I notice that A Woman Of Independent Means was a 1995 TV Mini-Series:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112226/
"Bess Steed marries her childhood sweetheart in the early part of the 20th century and begins a life in the high society of Dallas, Texas. As time goes by, things do not work out as she expects..."

I have it in the "Saved" section of my Netflix Queue. As you've said before, that means "never"! LOL

NETFLIX DESCRIPTION: "Oscar winner Sally Field stars as Texas belle Bess Steed, who blossoms from a high-society wife into a prominent businesswoman over seven tumultuous decades in this lavish 1995 miniseries, based on the novel by Elizabeth Forsythe-Hailey."


message 18: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "The book I mentioned is set in China in the beginning. It is a story of a man's daughter trying to trace his life as a Chinese and American spy. So far it's pretty fascinating. The woman her mother..."

The GR description of _A Map of Betrayal_ mentions "espionage". Does it get complicated?


message 19: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments Joy H. wrote: "PS-I notice that A Woman Of Independent Means was a 1995 TV Mini-Series:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112226/
"Bess Steed marries her childhood sweetheart in the early part of the 20t..."
Joy, I recommend reading the book, "Woman of Independent Means" as it is an easy enjoyable read. As for the other espionage book, it probably does get complicated but I haven't gotten to that point yet. I'll let you know after I finish the book.


message 20: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments To all my goodread's mothers..Hope you have a nice day. I just took a short walk in our neighborhood and I felt so grateful for green. It is like a park/everywhere i look is green. Probably where you live also.


message 21: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "Joy, I recommend reading the book, "Woman of Independent Means" as it is an easy enjoyable read....."

I'll keep it in mind, Nina. Thanks.


message 22: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited May 10, 2015 09:26AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "To all my goodread's mothers..Hope you have a nice day. I just took a short walk in our neighborhood and I felt so grateful for green. It is like a park/everywhere i look is green. Probably where y..."

Happy Mother's Day to you too, Nina, and to all the mothers! I really should take a walk today too. This beautiful weather isn't going to last long, I'll bet! It IS lovely seeing all the fresh green colors around, especially on the trees.


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