How I rate my reading – CAWPILE
Ever since I came back to the bookish social media world, I've been thinking about how I rate my reading. I never really thought about the 5-star rating system before, but recently I've been thinking about how it doesn't tell you much about my feelings, and can often be misleading.
My main issue with this system is that it's very subjective and it doesn't really translate your thoughts about a book. Many times in the past few months, I've gone back and forth with a rating because I was unsure of what fits the best. So if I change a book from five to four stars, does that mean that my feelings changed or that I simply had more time to fully form an opinion?
I'm also worried that some average ratings might put some people off of reading certain things when the reason I gave that book 3/5 stars could possibly be why someone else would give it a full 5/5. Up until this year, my rating system was based solely on a gut feeling, but I've noticed more and more how that has stopped working for me.
All that said, rating is a great mechanism to let you state your feelings in a quick way, and give people a general idea. You won't always have time to review all the books you read, or people might not have the time to read your full review but still want to know your opinion anyway. It's a brilliant tool that's not going anywhere anytime soon. So how could I improve the way I rate my books and feel like my rating reflected my thoughts better?
I've been subscribed to G over on Book Roast for a while now, and she created a system to assist her in rating her reading. I'll link the video where she explains it here (there's also a more updated version going through the 2021 changes she's made right here) but her system is called CAWPILE, a spreadsheet that not only tracks your reading stats but also lets you rate seven different aspects of a book, giving you the 5-star equivalent afterwards. With CAWPILE you give a different note between 0 and 10 for Characters, Atmosphere, Writing, Plot, Intrigue, Logic and Enjoyment. It's much more thorough and I don't think I'll ever go back to not using it. It allows me to have a clear image of my feelings and I imagine it'll be very useful the more I read, as it'll remind me much more quickly on exactly what made that book not be a 5-star and vice-versa.
As I said, it's also a great way to track your stats and reading diversity, something I've been getting more and more interested in. And because I fill it every time I finish a book, I've also been using the "notes" area to write down all the Content Warnings of a story, so I don't forget anything by the time I write my monthly recent reads.
I still think a rating without any explanation or any extra thoughts doesn't tell you much, but I enjoy knowing that I'm putting more thoughts into the rating I give to my books. Maybe one day I'll stop sharing that altogether and only keep the star rating for myself, but for now, I'm sticking to this method. It's working and I enjoy it a lot (I can't wait for the stats at the end of the year, I love finding out data about myself – Spotify wrapped is my jam).
Do you rate the books you read? I'm interested to know if you have any rating methods or just go with it, or maybe you don't even rate your books at all? If you're interested in testing out the CAWPILE system, I'll link the original Google Docs spreadsheet here, and you can copy it into your own dashboard (I do recommend watching G's video first – not only she's one of my favourite Booktubers but she goes through the whole thing, the different versions you can get, and what you can/can't alter).