Whenever I finish a book, I take out my iPod, open the Goodreads app, change its status to “read,” and rate it from one to five stars. But I have a confession: sometimes I logon to Goodreads a few days or weeks later and change my rating. I’ve even been known to adjust a rating after writing a full blown review here on my blog. I am a fickle book reviewer.
It takes a while for the full weight of a book to sink in after reading it. I often come off of books full of enthusiasm, love-blind to their flaws. This happened to me just recently after reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a marvelous debut novel that had me gushing about it to everyone I met, even when I was still reading it. It was only after processing the book for a few days that I realized the first half of the book was much stronger than the second half. The weaknesses of the final few chapters were relatively minor and only knocked off half a star from my original five star appraisal, but the point is that a review written ten minutes after finishing the novel would have read differently than a review written ten days later.
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Conversely, sometimes I have a violent negative reaction to a book that I later grow to love and understand. This happened a few years ago with Mockingjay, the final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I wrote my review of Mockingjay when I was still hot under the collar, gutted by the horrible, violent, depressing finale. It took months before I was able to distance myself enough to realize how brilliantly Collins portrayed war trauma and PTSD. The overwhelming realism was meant to leave me feeling shattered. It took me a long time to really appreciate that.
There are numerous instances when I’ve reconsidered a book following time and emotional/psychological distance. Since I started reviewing books six years ago, I’ve learned to give myself more time after finishing a book before I write my review, and between writing the review and publishing it. Still, sometimes I surreptitiously adjust those pesky star ratings or add a clarifying sentence or two to a past review. I am a fickle book reviewer.
Do you change your mind about books given more time to think? Do you ever change your star ratings on Goodreads after the fact? I’d love to hear your thoughts!