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On My Old N/A Rated Books

A photograph of three books with bookmarks in them

In my 10 years of statistics post, I mentioned the books I’d decided not to rate. To recap, this happened a few months before I started blogging; when I started blogging I went back to the previous year’s books (started blogging March 2010, started keeping statistics September 2009, and noted the books I’d read in the months prior) to help me write reviews so that I had a bit of a backlog to fall back on. In doing this I decided to rate the books I was intending to review; I decided that books I wouldn’t review – which often included books I’d attempted to review and given up on – didn’t need a rating.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and so on. Although it’s hardly the end of the world that I don’t have those books rated, I feel a bit of a bad reader for having essentially left them out of the running. Some were books I didn’t enjoy and probably wouldn’t enjoy today. But others I loved.

My thoughts here aren’t towards the books themselves – they have all been mentioned here over time – but the general idea of having books on my list with N/A in the rating column: should I be adding ratings? I certainly like the idea – not only would it complete my log for the year, it would feel like I’m doing them justice, finally.

But is giving a rating in hindsight – 10 years’ hindsight in this case – a viable option? No matter how much I try to think back, and no matter that I do in almost every case remember my general thoughts on the books, my present reading self will surely come into play. I’ve changed, and my expectations have changed. Perhaps I could give two ratings – one in the context of today, one that I believe I would’ve given then. But isn’t today’s context irrelevant if I’m not re-reading the book? (And, unless I’m reviewing them, does a rating of any context matter beyond completion?)

This all comes back to the question of how much we remember of books read years ago, and how we change over time. By the very fact that I’m wondering how useful a rating given in hindsight might be – that is, not useful in the context of today – aren’t I saying that it doesn’t matter because I’ve moved on? It might have been a reflection of my reading then, but without a re-read – that would show change more clearly – or, indeed, a review, which these books necessarily lack, there is perhaps not much objective use in having these ratings.

How much do I remember of these books? Where the thought was particular, for example I remember one book became almost illegible, suddenly, at 3/4 the way through, and another that it was decidedly average and dry, I could give a rating more in keeping with the time. Where the thought was more about my feelings, I’m not so sure. And the subjective and objective would be mixed without my knowing.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever rate them – it might do them justice in terms of back then, but it wouldn’t be informed and thus also wouldn’t do them justice.

In what ways do you consider your opinions of your old reads relevant and irrelevant?

 
 

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