Discussion: Does your mood affect your ratings?

So as I’m writing this I’m reading Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, which I was really excited to read and is objectively AMAZING. I mean, the writing is so readable but so intense. Would definitely compare to Gabrielle Zevin in that’s is “chick-lit” or “women’s fiction” that can easily be taken seriously as “literary”.

But.

I’m not enjoying it. In fact, it’s stressing me out. Not because it isn’t amazing, but because I’m currently SOOOO stressed at work. We are attempting in-person school in the middle of a pandemic, and we’re not letting kids browse the books so I have to pull a hold (or two) for EVERY KID IN THE SCHOOL. Plus we’re going to try start giving books to distance kids, so that’s a lot to plan! Plus I’m finishing grad school this semester. I just have a lot going on, and I’m having stress dreams literally every night. So reading Queenie, who has anxiety and panic attacks, is really activating my own stressed, anxious feelings.

I think if I had read this book this summer, which was very laid back, I would have been much more appreciative of what Carty-Williams has very successfully achieved with this book. I really can’t downplay how GOOD this book is. If I wasn’t so stressed right now, would I feel differently?

A lot of the time my currently emotional state affects what I choose to read. Mood reader, all the way. When I’m stressed I want something escapist. When I’m sad I like fluffy romances. When things are going smooth I like to be challenged by something new or a different perspective or a difficult book. But I’d never thought about how my mood might affect how much I like a book before.

But it makes sense. Of course I’m less likely to enjoy a realistic book when my real life is difficult. Of course something too optimistic doesn’t hit the spot when things are going to heck in a handbasket. Of course something too sad around the holidays won’t be the right fit.

As a pro mood reader I’m usually pretty good at picking a book that I’m going to enjoy. But sometimes you just miss the mark. In my defense, when I put the book on hold I didn’t think the kids would actually be coming back. But I think it’s okay to be honest and say “I didn’t love this book because my mood was wrong for it.”

So, does it affect my ratings? … Yes. My ratings (almost always) reflect my personal enjoyment of a book. I think it’s stupid to attempt to say your ratings reflect the objective quality or “good-ness” of a book, because it just ain’t true. A book can be really successful at being just-for-fun, but I’m never going to enjoy a book like that in a five-star-way. I’m sorry, I just won’t. But I don’t put too much stock into my star-ratings, and in the review I always try to make sure I express that my lack of enjoyment was all on ME and in no way reflects the BOOK. I’ve included sentences like “I didn’t love this book because _______ just hit me too close to home.” And you know what? I think that’s fine. I know not everyone agrees with me, but it’s just how I feel.

But sometimes, very rarely, when my enjoyment was SO FAR removed from how good I can tell the book was, I amend my star ratings. I’ll start the review with a quick “#-stars for rating, #-stars for personal enjoyment.” Then I take the average and put that in my stars at the top.

Ultimately, I’m really disappointed that I’m not enjoying Queenie more. I’ll definitely have to revisit it in the future when I’m not so stressed.

32 thoughts on “Discussion: Does your mood affect your ratings?

  1. This is such an interesting discussion! I totally get how being anxious and stressed and having to read a book where the character is also feeling that way only just increases those feelings. I think that’s the beauty of reading, though, everything is so subjective and only up to your own personal opinion!! Hope you have a great last semester of grad school! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! So ready to be done! Honestly, it makes me nervous to give a low-ish rating based on my experience because I’ve read so many posts recently that say “Stop rating books low because ___________ if that’s what the book is supposed to do”, especially in reference to books by authors of color. But, like, ratings are about whether we *liked* it…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think I ever really thought about this too much. I’m similar where I tend to want to read a fluffly book if I need something quickly uplifting though I think I’m more likely to veg out in front of a show if I’m stressed. But I definitely try to put in my reviews somewhere that my enjoyment or reason by a dislike is completely on me.
    Very interesting to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh, I’m the same! Honestly the difference between a 4 star and a 5 star is my feelings about the book, which is sooo subjective. But I’m not rating a book 5 stars when I’m only feeling 4 stars and vice versa.

    Maybe that’s a case to get rid of the star system :p

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  4. Yes, definitely! Sometimes a book unexpectedly hits you hard as some part of it relates to your current situation while other books, which are great as well, just don’t or maybe are the opposite of what you’re feeling and you end up rating them low!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I never really thought of this. I think it can affect me too but a lot of times if I’m stressed or sad I don’t want to read at all. But other times when I’m sad, reading a book makes me forget about my problems too. I’m sorry you’re not enjoying the story as much right now! I hope work becomes less stressful for you soon! And I hope graduate school goes well! You’re almost done with it 😀 You got this!

    -Amber

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is definitely true for me too. I always rate based on my enjoyment – I don’t get how anyone can “objectively” determine how good or bad a book was.

    Sometimes I’ll rate a book 4 stars right after finishing it because I just don’t have that “5-star feeling”. But then as time goes on I find myself thinking about that book a lot, and coming back to it in my mind. So I’ll realise it actually was 5 stars and up my rating. Similarly if I liked a book when I finished it then completely forget it a week later, I’ll knock my rating down.

    I hope your stress levels come down soon, you’ve got this! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so interesting! I almost never change a rating for a book on a re-read. But I agree, the 5-star feeling is a FEELING, and it’s really hard to explain or replicate.

      I agree, it’s impossible to give an “objective” rating. But lately I’ve seen so many posts about books by authors of color telling me that I shouldn’t give it a low rating if I didn’t “connect” with it because I’m “not supposed to”. Which, let me just say, I completely disagree that I’m not supposed to connect with it, but whatever. It just seems like all those bloggers thing I should let my rating reflect the “objective quality” of a book rather than my personal enjoyment, which confuses me because ratings are about whether you LIKED the book. Does that make sense? I feel like I’m rambling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, that totally makes sense. There’s a difference between not relating to a book and not connecting to it. I do think people shouldn’t rate books by authors of colour low because they “couldn’t relate”, since it’s a pretty low bar to only want to read about characters who are like you. But connecting to the story is a totally different matter – if you don’t enjoy reading something you shouldn’t feel forced to give it extra stars just for diversity.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. My mood also affects how I rate books. That’s why I don’t think it’s a good idea to look at star ratings alone. I think it’s good to read the review too.
    I’ve had similar experiences to what you’re going through with Queenie, which usually lead me to give a middle or lower rating (for me, that’s 3 stars or lower). However, I explain in my review why I give a book a low rating. My rating always expresses my enjoyment of the book, so if I’m not enjoying it, no matter how great the book is, I’ll most likely give it a 3 or lower. I reread a lot too so my ratings do change.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I relate to this so much, because sometimes I’m just completely in the wrong mood for a book and that spoils my enjoyment. And unfortunately it can affect my rating quite a bit, cos I do rate for personal enjoyment too. I guess when it comes to reviews, it’s just important to note why you didn’t enjoy it as much.

    Liked by 1 person

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