Sunday Salon: Gold Stars
I have a ton of titles from July and August to catch up on (this is not to even mention the backlist from earlier this year), so I’ll keep this paragraph brief! But I’ve seen quite a few bloggers mulling over ‘ratings,’ in particular star ratings, and I’ve been wanting to share my two cents. I use a five-star rating system on my books read page, simply so that I (and others) can quickly see what I felt about them; in some cases, I don’t get to blog about a book, but even when I do, I imagine sometimes readers might want to only read posts on books I loved (aka four and five stars). I don’t use those ratings in my posts, just because I think my ramblings make it pretty clear how I felt about the book. ;) I get around the philosophical complications of reducing a book to stars in a very simple way. Rather than rating the book, I rate my experience reading it; that way, I’m making no judgement on the book and author but merely on my reaction to them. And I make it very clear that it’s not a comparison system, because it’s silly to imagine that just because there’s a certain number of stars, an emotional reaction to a book could actually be quantified. It’s shorthand, not a math system. If you want, you can see all of the explanations for various numbers on my books read page, but that’s my philosophy! I bring it up now, because I have been thinking about adding stars to my Sunday sentence blurbs, just because I’ve had a few comments that indicate it’s not always clear from one sentence when I loved a book. What do y’all think? Would adding my stars here be helpful or redundant?
Read Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie if…you’re looking for a decent children’s book (as opposed to Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which was more young adult) and can overlook instances of the typical girl-bashing authors seem to engage in to appeal to boy readers.
Read Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary if…you’re looking for a very general, stereotype-based history of the world from the Muslim point of view and don’t expect a decent bibliography or end notes in your nonfiction.
Read An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James if…you’re already a James fan or want to give her a try without committing yourself to the more extensive Dalgleish series or are planning a mid-century mystery reading project or just want a marvelously well-written, intellectual character-driven novel.
Read The Substance of Style by Virginia Postrel if…you’re curious about the philosophy of aesthetics or want some affirmation that your desire to fill your life with beautiful things is not trivial and don’t mind a large helping of white, thin privilege.
Read Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton if…you prefer beginning mystery series at the beginning and are attracted to the Highland village setting and/or quirky village constable sleuth Hamish, but be aware that the series improves dramatically as it goes along!
Read The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood if…you want to read a wonderfully written, fascinating pre-feminist movement account of a young middle-class Canadian woman trying to find herself in the early 1960s.
Read The Ballad and the Source by Rosamond Lehmann if…you enjoy slightly melodramatic ‘fallen women’ stories from the turn of the century and don’t mind odd plot pacing and a story told entirely through hearsay.
Read The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer if…you’re craving a good Golden Age mystery read, or you’re curious about Heyer’s writing outside of the Regency romance world (this is light years better than the other mystery I read by her, so a great place to start).
Read Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben if…you’re looking for a slim history of Christmas in the US or need ideas for how to re-invent Christmas to make it more joyful and, incidentally, less expensive.