Random Thoughts: Re-rating

I recently wrote a Random Thoughts post on “Re-reading and Re-rating,” but it’s not always the case that re-reading a book will trigger that need to re-rate a review. Sometimes simply thinking back on a book – whether it’s an hour, day, week, month or year later – our original rating doesn’t sit right with us. Whether it’s our opinion on the book that changed over time or we were never really happy with the rating we gave it, sometimes we may feel the need to re-rate that review.

Rating a book can often be more challenging than writing a review. We know what our thoughts are much of the time. While they aren’t always as coherent as we’d like them to be, we have a basic idea of how we felt about that book. But deciding on a rating, when there are typically only five possible choices that we have available to us, can be more complicated.

We may know when a book is “out of this world” or “to die for” and are guaranteed five star ratings. And we know just as easily when those books are the worst possible dreck imaginable. But it’s those books that lie between the two that cause us the most angst. Was it just “okay,” did we “like it” or did we “really like it” according to the Goodreads rating system? Was it more than a “really liked it” but not quite “amazing”?

Sometimes the pressure to choose or the choices available to us can cause us to choose wrong. And so upon further reflection we just may want to change our minds.

When our rating never really felt right….

Sometimes in the press of time we have to come up with a rating for a book. Whether our review is due for a specific post date, whether we’re on a tour or whether we just need to rate that book in order to move on to the next one, we’re forced to make a quick decision. One that we may feel is hasty. And one that we ultimately feel isn’t quite right.

Whether it’s not having had the time to properly sit with the book and consider how we actually felt about it or having to quickly decide whether to raise or lower a rating because it fell somewhere between two rating stars, we click that rating star box with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

And no matter how long it has been since we made that choice, our feelings that we chose incorrectly haven’t changed. We acted rashly and we were wrong. That choice we made just wasn’t the right one and we want to go back and make things right.

While it’s well within our rights to do this – they are our reviews after all – should we do this?

Are we sure that we always felt we rated it wrong? Or have other influences come into play since then? Did we read a similar book after we read this one and now our original rating feels too high because that next book was that much better?

Did we give a book a boost because we were on a tour and we knew the author would be taking a peek? Were we less honest with our rating initially and now that the spotlight is off we want to give it our more honest one?

Now that we’ve met our deadlines and finally have a chance to breathe, does thinking about the book make us realize how much of an impact it had on us and so we feel it deserves to be rated higher? Has time to think about our reading experience made those initial frustrations that much more frustrating?

We fretted over our initial rating but now we fret over whether to change that rating. Because as much as we may feel that initial rating wasn’t quite right, this new rating may not be right either. We may not be accurately remembering our feelings at the time of our initial rating. Our hasty decision may have been the most “right” as it was our gut reaction.

And for whatever reason we chose that way, it was ultimately our choice and we made it. So while we may not feel one hundred percent that it was the right one, is our new decision one hundred percent right either? Do we live with our choices or do we get a do-over?

When time changes things….

Sometimes with the passage of time, our opinion changes. And not because of a re-read or the fact that we felt our opinion was initially the wrong one. Whether it’s because of outside influences or simply a fondness or irritation we developed for the memory of that book, we no longer feel our initial rating holds true.

Maybe it was a strong emotional connection or disconnect we had. Maybe we were too close to a story and now that we have distance we realize its flaws. Flaws we didn’t see when we were so close. Maybe we initially felt disconnected but over time we realize we did have a connection and one that was much stronger than we imagined it to be.

If it was a book in a series, maybe we grew to love or hate the characters and stories and it’s altered our opinion of the first book as we look back. If the series got stronger maybe we feel we rated that first book too high. Or perhaps our love of the series makes us look back at the memory of that first book with a fondness we didn’t once have.

Or maybe we look at that rating we gave and just have no idea how we came up with it. We re-read our review and see the positives and negatives with that distance that time brings and realize that the rating doesn’t match our words and meaning.

Our review may say just how much we loved that book but yet we listed flaws that would seem significant enough to lower our review from that perfect five star rating and yet we rated it flawless. Or we list far more positives than negatives and yet we rated it poorly. But we must have had our reasons for the rating we chose….

When time skews our view of things we were once certain about, should they be altered to reflect our current perceptions?

Once again, while these changes in our opinions are valid, they aren’t our initial ones. Does having new insight about a book or series or having a new take on things invalidate our original opinion? Without a re-review is a re-rate fair?

Professional reviewers don’t typically get to change their mind without some kind of detailed explanation of why. As non-professionals, do we deserve a do-over?

Helpful or harmful, positive or negative, we made a choice. But just because we did, do we have to live with it?

My thoughts….

I’ve been pondering this question about re-rating for months now. There are two specific books that I’ve read that actually make me want to re-rate my reviews. One because with the passage of time I realize just how much more I love the book than I did at first and the other because I was wavering and regretted my choice almost immediately.

While I am totally comfortable re-rating the various books I rated on Goodreads before I was a reviewer, because my rating system was totally random, I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of re-rating my review books. Especially without a re-read. And I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable making a change without some kind of explanation.

I don’t feel like my opinion could be trusted if I snuck back in and changed my ratings after the spotlight disappeared. It would feel underhanded. Sneaky. I’d feel like I was doing something wrong. Even though they are my opinions and my reviews to do with as I please.

But once published, making any changes without some kind of notice or explanation just feels wrong to me. And could potentially cause problems. I’m reminded of those people who get called out with screen captures of cached pages.

I want people to rely on my reviews as being my honest opinions. I want them to trust that I made the right choice when I posted my rating. And while I am human and make mistakes – lots and lots of mistakes – unless there was some kind of error, I feel like I have to let that initial rating stand.

Unless I plan on re-reviewing the book, that initial review and rating on that review needs to stay exactly as is, choppy sentences, clunky phrasing, gut-reaction rating and all. And just because I may feel differently down the road, whether it’s five minutes down the road or five years, my original opinion was totally valid at the time.

So, I suppose if I ever truly want to be satisfied with the ratings I gave those two books, I guess I have a couple re-reviews in store for me in the future. Or at least mini-reviews in which I talk about why I’m re-rating those books without re-reading them. Because who knows what the re-read will do to those ratings….

But what do you think?

Has there been a book you rated and desperately want to re-rate – one you haven’t re-read, but just feel differently about now? Or do you think it’s wrong to re-rate without a re-read or a re-review?

Have you re-rated books you’ve reviewed without a re-read? If you have, do you feel the need to explain why you’ve changed your rating or do you feel justified in making any changes you see fit?

And if you have, has there been any backlash because of the re-rate?

What’s your take on the re-rate?


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