It doesn’t mean they were all bad. We read The Lincoln Highway, which received one of the highest overall ratings we’ve ever awarded. And we read The Color Purple (a reread for most of us) and with the exception of one member, its ratings were all 4+. But to have 5 books receive a rating in the 2s, that’s not great.
For the past several months, we’ve discussed why we may have been led to select “bad” books. We’ve landed on marketing. It seems some authors, publishing houses, etc. are getting significant marketing – including early readers who will publish rave reviews – but the books themselves are just meh. Many are based on interesting ideas, but the execution just isn’t there. They are definitely not the literary fiction – beautiful prose, richly layered themes, multi-faceted characters, novel figurative language, intriguing narrative – that our group appreciates and expects from a book it will rave about.
Call us book snobs. We’re OK with that.
Without further comment, my book club’s ratings for the 2022-2023 year:
Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – 4.93 (high – 5; low – 4.8)
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner – 4 (high – 4.25; low – 3.75)
Fires of Autumn by Irene Nemirovsky – 2.03 (high – 3; low – 2)
A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa – 3.37 (high – 3.95; low – 2.5)
Travels with George: In Search of Washington & His Legacy by Nathaniel Philbrick – 2.45 (high – 3.5; low – 1)
The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn – 2.32 (high – 3.5; low – 1)
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict – 2.73 (high – 3.25; low – 2)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker – 4.39 (high – 5; low – 1)
We are not Like Them by Jo Piazza and Christine Pride – 2.94 (high – 3.5; low – 2)
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams – 3.33 (high – 3; low – 3.75)
Crossing to Safety had our narrowest range of scores from 3.75 to 4.25, indicating a high consensus of agreement that this was a very good read. We read Stegner’s Angle of Repose a few years ago with a similar appreciation. I also recommended it as a good book for sheltering-in-place, which just means it would be a great book to pick up when you want something that will keep you occupied for a while. And, it is worth the effort.
As already mentioned, The Color Purple technically had the widest margin with ratings from 5 to 1, but that is really because it didn’t resonate with one member, otherwise, its range is from 4 to 5.
A note about a change for this year’s ratings from the past, we adjusted how DNF/DNR (did not finish or did not read) are scored. In the past, we’ve lowered the overall score by .2 – which was a generous way of accounting for a “0”. This year, we started assigning the book a 1 for any that were DNF/DNR.
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