Why I Never Change my Original Rating of a Book

July 13th, 2016 kimbacaffeinate Feature 57 Comments

13th Jul

I rarely change my review with re-reads, mostly because the rating has as much to do with the reader as it does with the book. It symbolizes my opinion at a point in time, my feelings in that moment. I am not the same person I was five years ago, ten years ago etc. Each book, each experience changes me..”

This was my response for a post Erin did for “Top Ten Titled, Top Ten Books I Feel DIfferently About After Time Has Passed” Erin mentioned her ratings changed after re-reading a book, and it reminded me Why I Never Change my Original Rating of a Book. Let me explain…

Caffeinated Confessions
Why I Never Change My Original Rating Of A Book

I used to re-read favorite books all the time. I would run my fingers over my bookshelf and pull out a book that gripped me emotionally, made me laugh aloud or introduced me to a genre I have come to love. Since I read over two hundred books a year, I don’t do this very often and to be honest the older I get the less I dabble in this. Too many books, not enough time and all.

There is a book that was an absolute favorite when I was in my early twenties. The writing was spectacular, the message moving and I could quote whole passages. In my forties I re-read the book and I found I had questions. Why didn’t these concern me before? Ugh, the main character is so immature and so on…than it was a five stars now it might not even gain a three. The book hasn’t changed I have. I carry a part of me into each book I read and it impacts my opinion.

We all know that sometimes when we DNF a book it isn’t so much the book as it is our mood. Heck I DNFed Codename Verify because it was too dark for me. Folks loved it and I am quite confident if I picked it up again I would probably enjoy it. The same holds true for books previously loved/hated. I loved the Twilight books but a re-read changed my opinion and I realized that part of what enhanced those books for me was reading them with my teenage daughters. It was the chats, shared experience, and anticipation of the next book that equally affected my opinion.

Sometimes when I do a re-read particularly of a classic, my rating might be higher because things click or a message resonates with me today. I don’t change my rating though, because that was how I felt and sometimes on a second re-read the familiarity influences. Does that make sense? My book ratings are a snapshot of me.

Changing ratings would open a Pandora’s box. I would feel the need to reëxamine all the books I have read. *Eyes TBR pile whips head around and looks at books read* Yeah..nope. Not gonna happen.

These days I prefer to  re-read passages from beloved books. I have learned that like childhood memories of a place and time you cannot go back. That I am as much a part of the book as the words written within. The more I read the higher the bar, what emotionally affected me five years ago, won’t necessarily apply today.  Where I am emotionally, spiritually and intellectually have changed. What was black and white in my twenties now has areas of grey. Life experiences, knowledge, lessons and books are constantly molding me.

Do you ever change your rating on a book you have re-read? 

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Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads everything fiction in YA, NA, and Adult. She's a self-professed Whovian, Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat... Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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57 Responses to “Why I Never Change my Original Rating of a Book”

  1. Kathryn

    Yes so agree with you that often it is us and where we are in ourselves at the time. And I love the point that what was once black and white is now grey. We sure change and so much changes us. When you don’t change the rating it is like you are honouring the you in that time when you read the book. A pity we can’t give new ratings though to books when we’ve reread, honouring what we gave previously but giving the new rating and saying why. So two ratings. I am often annoyed by Goodreads not allowing us to count rereads!
    Kathryn recently posted…The Choices We Make. Karma BrownMy Profile

  2. Heather

    No, I wouldn’t go back and change review ratings. I like what you say that the book hasn’t changed, we have.

    My best example is Twilight, when it first came out I loved it. I had never picked up a Charlaine Harris, had nothing else to compare it too and if I was reviewing it would have given it 5 stars but now older, life has moved on I can’t stand it,

    I also feel changing my review would be like going back on my word, does that sound silly!!
    Heather recently posted…WHY?……….Can’t I Spell Anymore……….#BookbloggerProblemsMy Profile

  3. Nick

    I don’t change my ratings either, Kim. I think the more books we read, the more we grow as readers, so it’s understandable that you may not feel the same way about some books as you did the first time around. Take the Twilight series. It’s a series that I LOVED when I first read it, but I know that if I read the books now I’d very much dislike them. It’s not the book’s fault. I’ve simply grown and my tastes have changed. I’m more attuned to problematic depictions and such and just thinking back makes me realize how many issues Twilight had. But no, I won’t go back and change my rating just because of that because at the time, I did enjoy it.
    Nick recently posted…Review: Steadfast by Sarina BowenMy Profile

  4. Melanie Simmons

    I don’t think I’ve ever changed the rating on a book that I’ve read. I do know that I have gone back and re-read a few books that I read before I was reviewing books and I reviewed the second time around (either as a re-release or as a revisit for a new release). I wrote those reviews as if it was my first time visiting the books. I didn’t look at what my rating was (if I rated them on Goodreads. I know I hadn’t reviewed them). Would the ratings be different? I don’t know, maybe.

    I have seen a few people who have reviews on Goodreads and they’ve updated their thoughts underneath their original review. I don’t know if they changed their ratings or not. I think this is a fair way to handle it.

    Personally, I now only rate books that I write a review for, so I don’t change my ratings. I do agree that it is hard to make it fair. I know that there are many books that I probably could change my rating up or down based on a different mood when I read the book. I try to be consistent, but I know that I’m not as much as I would hope. I hope that my reviews do help show a more consistency when you read the actual reviews.
    Melanie Simmons recently posted…The Shadow Queen Audiobook by C.J. Redwine (REVIEW)My Profile

  5. AngelaReadingCa

    I don’t change ratings either. I figured there was a reason I gave it that many stars the first time. The reason may not make sense to me now but it did then. Plus, it would be confusing to change the ratings based on my mood. I use to love brussle sprouts, now not so much.

  6. Aubrey Wynne

    The book that started me on historical romance was a bit of a letdown when I reread it. But others bring back such lovely memories. What a great idea to read passages. I’ll have to pull out my old Lavyrle Spencer books now. She had a tearjerker and happy ending in every one of hers. I miss that woman!
    Aubrey Wynne recently posted…Lazy Days of Summer $250 Cash GiveawayMy Profile

  7. Jenny

    I agree completely Kim! I never change my ratings either, they reflected my feelings at that particular time and those feelings are still valid even if I might feel differently now. Like you said, the story didn’t change, I did:)
    Jenny recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Long May She ReignMy Profile

  8. Debbie Haupt

    Great post Kim. I almost never re-read a book, too many books etc. I agree with you on mood and time, but for me it’s also societal and attitude changes, ie a historical romance I I loved in the 80s involved what society today would call rape and i know for a fact that would not set well with me today.
    Thanks for sharing your feelings with us xo
    Debbie Haupt recently posted…Interview with M J Pullen, Baggage CheckMy Profile

  9. Rita

    Love this discussion! No, I don’t change ratings. But honestly, I don’t reread, not in so so many years. Same thought: I’m older, and too many new books to enjoy… but also I like the feeling of intensity whether through a mystery, suspense, angsty romance.. and I will lose that feeling if I reread and know what’s around the corner 🙁

    Interesting food for thought, offered by your discussion. I do believe you made an excellent point, paraphrased here: The book didn’t change– the reader did! Wow, so true!
    Rita recently posted…TTT- 10 Random Facts About MeMy Profile

  10. Kirsty

    I like some of the points you made here about books meaning something to you at one point and something different at another point because we obviously grow as people and change.
    If I re-read a book I will amend the star rating. I keep the previous review and make a note of the stars I gave previously but I will update it when I have re-read. My only reason for this is people might be following me/my goodreads because they like the kind of books I like now so if they read a review for years ago and I feel completely differently now it’s not really reflectively on me. For myself too I think it’s good to see the differences side by side, I like seeing how much I’ve changed.

  11. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I completely agree! My ratings are based on how I’m feeling when I read a book…and no matter how much time passes, or how many rereads come along (not happening much these days!), that rating is set. It’s how I felt then, and I can’t change that, can I?

    Thanks for this great post!
    Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted…AUTHOR’S HOME PAGEMy Profile

  12. Sarah's Book Shelves

    Such great points. I’m having the same issues with my All-Time Favorites List and am wondering if I should keep that list at all. I look at some books on there now and wonder why they’re there and then I’m almost paralyzed about adding any new books to it b/c I worry my opinion will change. Such a great point that it’s a snapshot in time and what resonates with you at X time may not 5 years later.
    Sarah’s Book Shelves recently posted…Ten Non-Bookish Things About MeMy Profile

  13. Candace

    YES, so very true! I know I’ve changed and I’m terrified to re-read favorites from long ago because I want to keep the fond memory of them and not change that. At the same time I really want to experience it again. It’s just very unlikely I would feel the same way. 🙁
    Candace recently posted…Baby Doll by Hollie Overton #mystery #thrillerMy Profile

  14. kindlemom1

    I couldn’t agree more as well. I never feel about bad about rating something 5 stars that I probably wouldn’t now if I read it because at the time it was a five star read for me even if it isn’t now.
    Great topic and points Kim!
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  15. Lola

    Yes this is exactly why I never change my ratings or reviews either. That review and rating is a snapshot of the moment I read it and what I thought about it then. So a book I read years ago I might not enjoy as much, but that’s okay as my review and rating isn’t meant to reflect that.

    And if I would change one rating I feel like I would constantly have them change them all to reflect how I feel now and that would just get confusing. Maybe if I would re-read a book i would give it a new rating and review, but I probably would just mention that on my blog if I re-review it or in my goodreads review what the new rating would be instead of changing the original rating. But to be fair I hardly ever re-read books, so that probably won’t happen often. Like you said too many books to read.

    And I like how you say the book hasn’t changed but you have. And I do believe that every time you (re-)read a book the experience will be different as there are so many factors outside the book that also influence your reading experience and enjoyment of the book. Great post!
    Lola recently posted…Review: Undone by Katey Wolfe (Kelley Armstrong)My Profile

  16. Tyler H. Jolley

    It’s funny you posted about this. Last weekend I was on a road trip and decided to put on my favorite band from the 90’s. They were an obscure, Australian, alternative band, but I loved them. At the time, their music spoke to me, the lyrics were so deep. But as an adult? It sucked! If I hadn’t already fallen in love with them, I would have thought this band was laughable. But, if I listen to it, through my 17-year-old-ears, it’s as delicious as I remembered. I can completely relate to this post.

  17. Katherine

    Such a great topic! There are a number of books that I either DNF’d or didn’t like because they were too paranormal or too dark but I think if I picked them up now I’d enjoy them because my reading has expanded in both those areas. There are a number of books that I’ve reread that I loved at first but didn’t hold up well in reread (this is especially true for romances where some get so dated) and I’ve had the opposite too. If I’d reviewed it in some format before I don’t think I’d go back and change it because the book earned the rating at the time but if I was reviewing a book now that was a reread that I hadn’t reviewed before I would give my reread rating with a mention of how I had loved it before.
    Katherine recently posted…A Most Curious Murder – ReviewMy Profile

  18. Christy LoveOfBooks

    I’ve only fully re-read two books – The Passage and The Twelve – and those ratings certainly didn’t change. Hell, I would’ve gave them more than 5 stars if I could. lol. I’m not sure how I feel about this – for me anyway. I completely understand why you don’t, but I also understand why someone would want to. Since I only rate on GR, I might leave the rating as is, and then add a little update stating how I felt about the re-read, ya know?
    Christy LoveOfBooks recently posted…The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth WareMy Profile

  19. Sophia Rose

    In general, this is my principle when it comes to my reviewed books, but I have one exception. I’ve added audio books to my reading repertoire and some are ‘rereads’. I’ve gone through and added a second review with a second rating of books for these audio rereads as I feel I must address the narration element now. Oddly, most of these have the same rating, but my thoughts might alter a bit b/c nuances that are pulled out by the narration draw attention to the book in ways that my first reading through it did not.

    Now that said, no, I do not change my rating even if it was a book from thirty years ago. I’ve been asked twice by authors to alter my rating. One sent me a long explanation of how I didn’t understand her point in a certain scene and that now that she’s clarified then an additional star should be added. Pffft, no ma’am! I got your point the first time and that wasn’t why the scene fell flat for me. Another said I was in a mood and should reconsider. I wasn’t then, but after that message I was.

    Love why you choose to let your original rating stand. Thoughtful post!
    Sophia Rose recently posted…The Job Blower by Melinda DeRoss #AfternoonDelightMy Profile

    • Heather Fowler

      An author ASKED you to change your rating? WOW that is rude. Talk about authors behaving badly. I’m a writer, and not everyone enjoys my work. That’s just a fact of the job! You don’t get to tell someone how to feel about what you’ve written. Once you release your baby out into the world, it’s just not under your control anymore.

      LOL Sorry to hijack your comment! That just really rubbed me the wrong way. Rule #1 for a writer that doesn’t want to look like a fool: don’t engage negative reviewers. Just don’t!

      Heather
      Heather Fowler recently posted…#2016TBRPile The 2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge!My Profile

      • Sophia Rose

        No problem, Heather! I don’t mind your comment.

        I didn’t clarify what my ratings were for both those books, but the first instance was a 4 star (I think that means above average) and the second was a 3 star (I found the book mostly likeable). These weren’t even on the negative end of the spectrum. I guess it depends on how you rate your own work though as to how you see other’s rating.

        You are so right that the mindset has to be that once that book is out there then the author has to be prepared for others’ varied opinions.
        Sophia Rose recently posted…The Job Blower by Melinda DeRoss #AfternoonDelightMy Profile

  20. Eva

    Great discussion and such a good point as to why you don’t change your ratings. I have changed my ratings only a very few times and usually not because of a re-read — it’s usually my GR rating once I digest a book more and we are typically talking a .5 difference — sometimes I will rate a book 4.5 stars and then after thinking about it for a few days, it really is 5 stars. I rarely try to change ratings because I agree with you!
    Eva recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: The Antiques by Kris D’AgostinoMy Profile

  21. Leona

    I can so relate to this! There are some books that I’ll want to reread because it has impacted me emotionally, but then when I reread them I’m disappointed. There have been some that I’ve reread and I’ve gained a deeper insight into the story or I’ve reacted the same way as the first read. Rereading a book is sometimes a double edged sword.
    Leona recently posted…Make It Rain by Sasha MarshallMy Profile

  22. Lizzy

    I’ve never really thought about whether or not I change my ratings…but I don’t think I ever had! However, I’m a strong believer in books sometimes being what we need them to be AT THAT TIME. What I needed to hear at 18 is different from what I need to hear at 28, and there are books that fill every gap. I try (key word, haha) not to knock books I loved then, because I know they filled a need, however ridiculous I might find them now. And my mantra is still that “Reading anything is better than reading nothing!”
    Lizzy recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Facts About MeMy Profile

  23. Kathy

    I agree that it’s one of those “It’s not you, it’s me,” scenarios. I used to re-read favorites over and over, so I feel you on that one. I can’t possibly reread anymore because there just isn’t time, even though I’d love to revisit some books. We mature, the books stay in their age group. You make so many great points here. I love this post.
    Kathy recently posted…A Day Late and a Dollar Short: Hello…my name is KathyMy Profile

  24. Heather Fowler

    I absolutely agree. There are plenty of books I read once upon a time that I either loved then and don’t care for much now, or hated then and enjoy now. One thing I have done on Goodreads or my blog now and then, is when I read those series/books that I have a tradition of re-reading regularly (usually when a new volume is about to come out), I might jot down notes of something new I noticed, or something that has changed in how I experienced the book. But change the ultimate score of the book? No. That was how I felt about it when I did the original review, and that’s the way it’s staying for posterity!

    Great food for thought, thanks!
    Heather
    Bloodthirsty Muses
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  25. ShootingStarsMag

    I don’t rate a lot of the books I read. I’m doing this MORE I suppose, now that I’ve been trying to keep track of all of the books I’ve read on Goodreads. Regardless, I get what you mean. I can change my thoughts on a book if I re-read it years later, but it’s nice to remember WHY you liked/disliked something when you first read it too.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Baby Doll by Hollie OvertonMy Profile

  26. Laura Thomas

    Great discussion! And so many of the points you made are similar to mine. I won’t go back and change a review rating. Many books pulled me into genres I’d never read before. I adored the Twilight series and started reading YA because of it. Probably wouldn’t give them as high a rating now but I’d never change how they earned my rating at that time.

  27. The Bibliophile Babe

    Very well said! While I do reread a few select books (for either nostalgia or because they make me stupidly happy), I’m always a little anxious before I do. What if my thoughts and emotions around the book change, ect ect.
    The Bibliophile Babe recently posted…Waiting on WednesdayMy Profile

  28. Lorna

    I have only been reviewing for 4?years now so it doesn’t really apply to me. I do occasionally re-read(anything by Dannika Dark)but I don’t change what I originally rated it. i recently bought an eBook of a book I read easily 30 years ago. I loved it and would have given it 5 stars back then. It will be interesting to see what I think now. Interesting post!

  29. Lani

    There is one series I love to re-read that I find delights me every time. The Harry Potter series. I think the reason my opinion doesn’t change is because I only re-read this when I am feeling a certain way and I want to go on a magical journey. Also it is written so well, so imaginative and you rediscover little fun pieces you forgot about because the books are so full of details you couldn’t remember it all. Other than that, there are so many books I want to read and so little time that i rarely re-read books. I love listening to audible books as well, while driving, doing chores or anytime my hands are engaged but my mind is not. The Outlander Series is great and I admit I have relistened to them while waiting for the next book to come out. Anyways… have a superb day…
    Lani recently posted…SUPERFOOD OFFMy Profile

  30. Karen Blue

    Nope, I don’t change my ratings. I agree it would be a Pandora’s box of issues. I would not be able to move forward at all. I don’t usually re-read books. There are a few that have been read more than once, but that was before I was a book blogger. I can’t imagine trying to make time for that now.
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  31. Lekeisha

    I’m the same way Kim! My opinions about a certain set of books has changed considerably since I read them years ago versus my rereading of them this year. I think I was so obsessed with the original writing, that I didn’t notice how much it had changed in the published version. They are still rated high on my Goodreads, but I do have completely different opinions about the books now. My original rating stands, and I’m a totally different reader than I was back then.
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  32. Mary Brebner

    Awesome topic! I’ve waffled on this with a couple of books but, yeah, for the most part, I’ve stuck with my original rating. Sometimes, when I take time after reading a book, my opinion/rating changes but a fave re-read, those pretty much stay the same.
    Mary Brebner recently posted…Quick Shot Book Reviews (19)My Profile

  33. Lover Of Romance

    I just love this topic so much and you really touched base on some true factors here!!! I don’t think I have ever changed a rating EVER!! Especially with those first books I read years ago. I agree about how we change over time. Change is a part of life, and we grow over time and our preferences on reading can change over time. I do feel that its important to realize that just because our interests may change or we may grow more “picky” over the years, doesn’t mean we should casually change a rating. I do wish Goodreads would make it so we could change the rating for each time we re read a book. Although for most of them I still feel the same way about them now as I did then. But I see many on GR especially, change their reviews so frequently. So its interesting seeing why others agree or disagree on this topic. Great post here.
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  34. Nicole

    I think you make some really great points here. Our reading is SO influenced by who we are and where we are in life that it’s impossible to read the same book twice. I agree that opening yourself up to changing ratings could be opening a HUGE Pandora’s box – better to keep that thing locked up tight!

    (Though it might be fun to add a note to your original reviews and tell people how your re-read experience differed from the original!)
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  35. Tressa

    I can’t agree with you more! Ratings are so dependent upon my mood and I’ve thought about not rating, but I still like my readers to know what I really thought of a book. I also re-read favorites, but sometimes just particular parts that I especially loved. And yes, they can be old friends even if they aren’t the most marvelously written book ever. Great discussion post!

  36. Berls

    I completely agree Kimba! I hadn’t thought of it as beautifully as you stated – that it’s a snapshot of me – but I do like that I can see how ive changed through my reading timeline and ratings. I think it’s fun to see books I gave auto 5 stars before I became a book blogger and how my ratings have gotten much stricter from reading and reviewing so much. I also think it’s neat to see how taste changes and pulls me towards different kinds of books. Great post!
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  37. Lexxie

    This is such a great subject, Kim! I hardly ever re-read, and if I do, it’s usually that I go from reading a book to listening to it, and then, yes, my rating may be different, because I’m not strictly speaking reviewing the exact same book.
    You are completely right about re-reading books and having a different opinion about it based on mood, experience, age etc, though the story, the characters, the writing and the plot are strictly the same.
    I hope you’re feeling better!!
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  38. Literary Feline

    I was bored the first time I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t rate books when I read it, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have garnered a very good rating from me. When I read it the second time, I absolutely loved it–and now count it among one of my all-time favorites. I very rarely re-read books, and so can’t really think of another case where I have reread a book and felt differently about it the second or third or fourth go around. I don’t think my first rating should necessarily be discarded completely because I either liked or didn’t like a book upon a re-reading. It’s really more a matter of where I am in life when I read a book. Book opinions are so subjective, no matter how we may try to keep things as objective as possible. And our opinions can change over time as we grow and change.

  39. Nereyda Gonzalez

    I love this because I never re-rate books. There are some books that I KNOW I wouldn’t like as much now, but I did at the time and that’s all that matters to me.

  40. Michelle

    I 100% agree with you on all accounts, and I honestly try not to change ratings, though I will occasionally update a review to NOTE the change in my reaction.

    What I have noticed more often with me is that the rating I would give right after finishing a book versus after a week or so has passed is often completely different. Or sometimes I’ll change my rating over the course of writing the review. My gut will say “I’m totally giving this one 4 stars,” and then as I write my review I think of all these things that bothered me, and I’ll end up down at 2.5 or 3 stars.

    Conversely, sometimes I’ll finish a book and decide that I didn’t like it, then I’ll find that I’m still THINKING about it two weeks later and be like, “Wow, that book was actually really powerful,” and I’ll end up wanting to rate it higher (*cough* The Grisha *cough*)
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  41. Kristen

    I get what you’re saying because that’s the same reason I don’t change my *reviews*. If I re-read, I’ll just add on a little “Re-read update” to share if I still feel the same way or different, if I like it more, if anything changed for me, etc. But I’m not averse to changing ratings after a re-read. I’ve only done it once so far, but I just mentioned in my update that I was changing the rating and why.
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