Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings

What do I mean by “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. Quotes directly from the book are in this color. (If I share a passage without any comment, that means I think it’s great and I simply want you to have the 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 SPOILER 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 be part of my post. If you’re interested in reading one of these books and don’t want the plot revealed, stop reading 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 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 included). My thought process at each star:

1 star: Poor writing and/or disinterest in plot made it very hard to get through the book. I will actively talk people out of reading it.

2 stars: Some essential balance of elements was off; can be a well-written book with a boring or confusing plot. I finish it feeling that my time was wasted. Will 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 my ratings balance out, of the books I read through the years 2016-2019:

10% did not finish (which means the book really wasn’t working for me and I saw no reason to continue)

6% rated at 1 star

28% rated at 2 stars

29% rated at 3 stars

21% rated at 4 stars

6% rated at 5 stars

Back to the show!

293 thoughts on “Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings

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