This weekend, Weekly Geeks host Tara asks if we are OCRs:
O.C.R. = Overly Critical Reader
- not liking characters in the beginning
- needing the main character to prove themselves before you'll respect them
- rolling your eyes while reading
- needing things to be completely realistic
- shouting things such as "WTF?!"
- needing every plot twist and turn to be foreseeable
I had an example of this yesterday when I was adding my most recent review SILK CHASER by Peter Klein to Library Thing. There was another review already posted by someone I know that gave the book a rating of 2/5. She made a criticism that never occurred to me. I gave the book 4.5.
There are some reading audiences where members see it as their obligation to be supercritical.
Newspaper book critics often take their "critical" role very seriously, and almost inevitably shoot books down in flames.
In some online communities that hold regular book discussions, to host a discussion of a book you have enjoyed can be the equivalent of being lined up in front of the firing squad, where some members see it as an obligation to point out in painstaking detail what was wrong with the plot, the characters, the print, and anything else they can think of. The final arrow is the DNF and the imputation that anybody who wasted their time in finishing this book must be somehow an idiot. By association the person who first suggested it for discussion must therefore also be an idiot.
I rate all the books I read.
I have a rating scale of 0-5 and it is possible to score anything in that range.
My general benchmarks are
- 5.0 Excellent
- 4.0 Very Good
- 3.0 Average
- 2.0 Poor
- 1.0 Did Not Like
- 0 Did Not Finish
However if you check the list of reviews I've posted so far this year, you'll see that I have very rarely resorted to giving anything below 4. Even in my full list of reviews, those scoring less than 4 don't even come to 10%, and you'll see that there are at this stage only two DNFs.
So what are my explanations?
- First of all, I am basically reading books that I expect to enjoy. They come as a result of recommendations from those with similar reading tastes. In addition they are often the "cream of the crop", they have often featured on award shortlists.
- Secondly, I am probably a bit more tolerant than most in my reading. I'm always cognisant of the fact that the book that I am reading was 12-15 months in the writing, and I am reading it in less than a week. When I chatted with Michael Robotham and Malla Nunn over breakfast recently we talked about what damage negative reviews can have.
- Thirdly, I have recently begun refusing review copies of books that I don't think fit my reading tastes. My time is too precious to spend on reading something I'm pretty sure I'll hate.
- Finally, the ratings I give are reflective of my reading tastes. After I've given a rating, then I do try to slot the book into my lists in what I consider is about the "right" place, particularly if I'm thinking about my "best reads" for the year.
There is still the conundrum of why someone reading the same book as me will give it 3 where I will give it 4.2. I've wondered if it means I am less critical, less demanding than they are. But I have come to the conclusion that where they are probably in reality operating within a rating range of 2 to 5, I am using fine gradations between 4 and 5. We still both give 5 to the excellent reads!