Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings

What do I mean when I say “Reading Journal”?

It’s the notebook I carry around when I read. I keep track of every book, noting sentences/paragraphs that catch my attention. There are several ways a passage can do this:

1) Fantastic writing; I like the sentiment expressed

2) Poor writing

3) A word or reference I’m not familiar with

4) Plot/continuity error

5) General confusion

In Reading Journal entries on this blog, I introduce the book, give a short plot description/overview (with rating), then share passages with comments explaining why they caught my attention. (If I share a passage without any comment, that means I think it’s great and I simply want you to have to joy of reading it.)

When giving Vocabulary definitions, I use Google results (and I believe Google uses the Oxford Pocket English Dictionary). When explaining References, I use Wikipedia unless otherwise noted; in those cases I link to the site.

YOUR ONE AND ONLY SPOILERS WARNING: I don’t go out of my way to reveal plot points but I don’t go out of my way to avoid them, either. If a scene I want to discuss happens to contain the death of a main character, it will end up in a post. If you’re interested in reading one of these books and don’t want the plot revealed, stop reading the post once I start quoting from the book.

LANGUAGE WARNING: I will never censor a book. I will use the exact language of the author when quoting their work. I also toss in my own light curses in reviews, though I try not to go full-tilt. In any case, the subject matter will occasionally tread toward R territory (and usually hovers around PG-13). I will not give warnings in specific reviews.

RATING SYSTEM: I rate on a 5-star scale (half stars are possible). My thought process at each star:

1 star: I couldn’t finish the book because of poor writing and/or disinterest in plot. If I did get through the whole thing, it took effort. I would actively talk people out of reading it.

2 stars: Some essential balance of elements was off; often a well-written book with a boring or confusing plot. I finish it feeling that my time was wasted. Would not recommend.

3 stars: Probably won’t read again but my time wasn’t wasted. Good/competent on most marks (though poorly-written books with entertaining plots can grab a 3). Recommendation comes with conditions (“Only read if…”).

4 stars: Above average quality of writing and above average plot/execution. Recommended. Would read again. Will add the author to reading rotation.

5 stars: High quality of writing. Amazing plot/execution. The kind of book I want to own and will push on people. Will actively seek out other books by the author as soon as possible.

I use the same guidelines on Goodreads (though they don’t allow half-star ratings). To give an idea of how I balance my ratings, of the books I read in 2015:

8% rated at 1 star

20% rated at 2 stars

33% rated at 3 stars

32% rated at 4 stars

7% rated at 5 stars

In 2016:

6% rated at 1 star

34% rated at 2 stars

33% rated at 3 stars

18% rated at 4 stars

9% rated at 5 stars

Back to the show!

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