I am working on issue #5 of Buncha Books for this week, but I have become sidetracked. You're probably not surprised by the fact that I am easily distracted. This time my distraction was the thought that a ratings system might be a nice thing to implement for my Buncha Books book review posts. So I went off on this tangent, but I think it was a productive one. Instead of stars, I will rate up to five picklebottoms. What the heck is a picklebottom, you are wondering. [See how I read your mind?] This, my friends, is a picklebottom:
I KNOW I'm not an artist. No need to point it out. Luckily I'll be using this image in a much smaller format. If you'd like to submit an image of a picklebottom for consideration, I will consider it, and probably gladly replace my image with yours. You will not receive any compensation other than my thanks and possibly credit in a post somewhere that you made the image for me. So you know, if my undying gratitude is enough for you...
Anyway, here is an explanation of the ratings:
One picklebottom will mean that the book was SO boring and/or bad (usually boring, see OCD tendency mentioned in two picklebottoms explanation below) that I couldn't even finish it, and thus could not possibly recommend it to you, EVEN if someone else (or EVERYONE else) considers it a classic. Examples could include The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane and The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. In all fairness to Stephen Crane, that is my 10th grade opinion, but I'm not willing to try to read the book again to see if my opinion has changed.
Two picklebottoms means that I was able to finish it, but it wasn't actually worth reading. Chances are that the only reason I finished it is that little OCD tendency I have that makes me HAVE TO FINISH any book I begin. Which should reinforce just how boring and/or bad those books are that only rate one picklebottom. Maybe I finished the book and thought, "Oh, that sucked. Why did I waste my time with that?" or I thought, "Meh. OK, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone."
Three picklebottoms means that not only was I able to finish it, it would make decent vacation reading or it was a fairly interesting read but wasn't particularly compelling. Books with this rating fall into a couple main categories. Either they are light, entertaining fluff that give equal or more attention to sexual tension and/or romantic involvements of the characters rather than to the actual plot, or they are more serious fare that is pretty good, but might lean slightly toward the boring side. While they typically wouldn't ever be mistaken for LITERATURE, I'm not too embarrassed to recommend them, though I may whisper the recommendation. Some examples of books that would get this rating are most of those written by Iris Johansen.
Four picklebottoms will probably be my most used rating. It covers most of what I read, because I have become pretty good at picking books that I like. Most of the novels by authors that I read regularly will get this rating. They might be light and entertaining, they may be darkly comedic, psychologically twisted, or focus on the inter-relationships of the characters. Basically, if I really enjoy the book and feel that others would really enjoy the book, it will receive four picklebottoms.
Five picklebottoms will be awarded to any book that I feel my life would have been wasted had I not read it before I died. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but these books are those that just blew me away. Books with storylines so unique as to be unlike anything I had read before, books that made me sad when they ended because I could have gone on reading them forever. Books that fascinated me or that contained language so eloquent as to be utterly captivating. Examples of books to which I would award five picklebottoms are Beach Music by Pat Conroy and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
Some books may fall between ratings, in which case I will award them half-picklebottoms.
So if a book is light entertaining fluff, but I'm willing to give the recommendation in a loud and clear voice, it would receive three and a half picklebottoms. Now I realize that you may feel that some of the books I will award four picklebottoms might be light entertaining fluff, but if they involve murder, mayhem, mystery, courtroom drama, espionage, conspiracy theories, or anything that makes me wish I were a detective, private eye, CIA/NSA operative, vigilante, etc., they will get four picklebottoms from me, because these are MY reviews.