Posts Tagged Twelve Lives of Samual Hawley

Five Stars or Die? The Dreyfuss Book Rating System

Apparently I’m not the only person stymied and annoyed with the rating system on Goodreads, the same system that has taken over all of our lives. Buy a new TV? Rate it. Have your car worked on? Rate it. Eat at a restaurant? Rate it. And if you can’t give it five stars, forget it. The mechanic/cook/salesperson will be fired because we no longer recognize nuance. Five Stars or die. Although it would not be perfect, a ten-star system would allow for a little tweaking of meaning, if it also didn’t become a Pass or Fail grade.

Others are fed up with figuring out what the stars mean, and this That’s Normal author has a pretty funny take on a better rating system where you consider what you’d rate a book situationally.  Although not a rating system, the Totally Hip Video Book Reviews are pretty funny as well. Ron Charles has some reviews posted on youtube, but there are others viewable under The Washington Post, if you happen to have a subscription.

The code I’d like to adopt is one recently featured on most NPR stations. As it was only given a brief mention, I looked up a bit more information. When Stefanie Dreyfuss died, a CBS station wrote a short piece on her and her system. Buzzfeed includes a more detailed rundown of her system with codes included.

I was driving in the car when the NPR piece aired. The most memorable rating I came away with was Readable Piffle (RP).   This seems like a very useful category for a book that is fun to read but overall not memorable. Some of her other codes are less original, like DNF for did not finish, NMS for not my style, and WOT for waste of time. A G was given to books that held her attention while NBAA was assigned to books she considered not bad at all.

She added refinements, such as adding a +1 to RP for something a step above the usual or RP-M for a mystery. She also had a RB category for Readable Banality. Not sure what the differentiation between piffle and banality is, but overall I like her system and plan to adopt it. I wish there was a way to officially add this to Goodreads and other places where ratings are left for books. Adding a star rating based on the category of read would give a clearer meaning to five stars for a fun mystery compared to five stars for a serious read.

Looking at my list of books read and rated over the last two and a half years I’d give :

Camino Island (John Grisham) RP-M (2.5)

Sputnik Caladonia (Andrew Crumey) NMS/RR-SF (3)

I Will Have Vengeance (Maurizo de Giovanni) WOT (2)

The Twelve Lives of Samual Hawley (Hannah Tinti) RP-Thriller (3.0) The Totally Hip review is not to be missed, although apparently the actual reviewer thought highly of it.

A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles) G-5 or should that be NBAA-5?

Mrs. Fletcher (Tom Perrotta) RB (2)

What system do you use to rate books? How would you rate some of your recent reads using the Dreyfuss Method?



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