Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Random Literary Tidbits

I recently hit my goal of reading 75 books this year, and it's only August! Also, I'm up over 150 total books read. Here's some random things I've noticed about my tastes compared with the general reading public . . . or at least, the average GoodReads member.

Here are the general descriptions of the ratings, as provided by GR. I try to stick to these as close as possible, especially when I'm undecided (sadly, GR doesn't offer half-stars). I just try to take a step back and ask myself which of these statements is most accurate.

1 star = didn't like it
2 stars = it was ok
3 stars = liked it
4 stars = really liked it
5 stars = it was amazing

* Keeping in mind that the "average rating" of a book is constantly changing, these numbers are accurate as of today.

Lowest rated book in my collection: Lost, by Gregory Maguire, at 2.60 stars (my rating = 4 stars)
I'm really not surprised that this book is rated as low as it is. Gregory Maguire (of Wicked fame) is sort of a "love him or hate him" author anyway, and Lost is very different from his other works, so even many fans don't care for it.

Highest rated book in my collection: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, at 4.48 stars (my rating = 4 stars)
This one IS surprising to me. Not because it wasn't a good book, but just because it was SO hyped up, and SO many people have read it, that I would have expected a more balanced reaction.

Most of the top-rated books are ones in a series, and I think these tend to be higher rated overall because the earlier books weed out a lot of people who would give negative reviews. If you read the first book in a series and don't care for it, you probably aren't going to continue. Sure, some later books get low ratings too, by people who stuck out the series just because, or fans who were disappointed by a particular volume, but overall there are less negative reviews to bring down the average. So, it just surprises me that The Help, which was read by such a wide variety of people, didn't get more negative reviews to pull that average down a bit. Again, it's not that it was a bad book. I'm just surprised that it's rated higher than the final Percy Jackson (4.46), the final Harry Potter (4.45), and the final Lord of the Rings (4.40), all of which were read mostly by people who were already inclined to enjoy the book. (On a personal note I'm surprised that PJ squeaked out above HP, but that's just me.) But, of course, these numbers are all so close, and always subject to change, so it's not really worth squabbling over those few hundredths of a star.

Of my 5-star books:
Most popular: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling, at 4.45 stars
Least popular: Judgement Day, by Jane Jensen, at 3.56 stars

Of my 1-star books:
Most popular: Tell No One, by Harlan Coben, at 3.99 stars
Least popular: The Last Theorem, by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl, at 3.02 stars

There are also several instances where my favorite book in a collection (whether grouped by series or just by author) is the least popular, and/or my least favorite is the most popular. Just further proof that no one but you can decide what you like or don't like.