When You Become More Well Read In A Genre… (also, HALP! Overthinking here!)

Over the past few years, especially since blogging, I’ve read more of a variety of books — heck I have a lot of changes in myself as a reader since I began blogging. I’ve shown you my reader history so you know it’s very recent that I started reading a lot of genres and when I started blogging I rarely read YA. It’s amazing and I love how even MORE eclectic by reading habits have become.

When I start these new genres I FALL IN LOVE. I’m smitten, head-over-hells, over the moon. It’s so new and exciting and I find myself love each new genre.

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I remember being enchanted by paranormal YA, then discovering the amazing world of contemporary YA and then my mind was blown by dystopian and, along the way, I’ve slowly dipped my toes into fantasy and science fiction — genres I would have never thought I would ever explore. Everything is so new and exciting which is why I’ve been loving my Courting Genres challenges to myself.

But I realized something about myself when I start diving into these new genres when I was scrolling Goodreads. I rate these books really high and think they are amazing. Sometimes they really ARE amazing but sometimes, years later or as a I get more immersed in the genre, I wonder why I thought it was so darn good.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about it. When I get into a new genre it’s this new taste and it invigorates my reading taste buds. I think it’s amazing because I simply haven’t had anything like it before and it excites me. But as I become more well read in a particular genre I realize there’s better stuff out there. So I may have been charmed by this fast paced dystopian only to realize that there are WAY better ones out there and the book I actually read was kind of flimsy in comparison. It wasn’t a true 4 stars comparatively to some better ones I’ve now read.

I have a hard time reconciling that as I’ve become more well read in genres — that maybe the rating/review I gave it doesn’t hold up as I know more about the genre and read more in it. Personally, since more than anything my Goodreads is for me, I’ve begun changing the ratings and sometimes adding a note of some of these books that don’t quite measure up against what I’ve read. But I do wonder, as I contemplate changing my rating, what I would have given this book if it was maybe the 12th book I read in a certain genre vs. the second.

I think the other thing I try to reconcile in this is — is it fair that I’m comparing another book to others in the genre? Should I be okay with what I first thought about it? It’s hard because when I want to start recommending in a genre I want to give the best of the best in the genre to hook somebody so I feel it necessary, in a way, to be able to compare books within their genre.

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Please, please let’s talk about this because I NEED your thoughts!!

Do you have this problem when you become more well versed in a genre — that the books you thought were really good at first aren’t as good as you really thought ? Do you feel the need to change your rating when you become more well read in a genre and realize some of the early books you read don’t measure up anymore to what you’ve read now? Do you not bother changing the rating/does it not bother you that it might not stack up against what you’ve read since then? Do you have any examples of this happening to you? Do you compare books within their genre when you rate it or do you try to just rate it without thinking of where it falls in the genre?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. Well, I’m similar – I love reading one genre and than when I go back I think about some books I cannot remember why I was rating them so high.

    But – for me ratings also express my feelings about a book. I am not this kind of rater who analyzes books to get to the perfect rating. When I read I feel – and this I transform into a rating. So no, don’t change your rating because when you read a certain book you gave it a rating because that is what you felt about the book back then. It might have changed now, but when you rated and reviewed the book you felt right about your ratings and that is what counts!

  2. I definitely have this problem! I’ll think a new one is wonderful until I’ve read about 12 or 13 in a certain type, adn now, looking back, wonder why I possibly thought that was so good.
    But I do think you’re justified in changing your ratings. I also think it’s justifiable to compare all books in one genre to other books in that same genre. After all, isn’t that what rating is? We’re rating books on a scale of how they hold up to certain standards we look for, and if a book didn’t do as good a job as another one, it gets a lower rating.
    I’m all for it because I do want to recommend the very best of the genre, and I think it’s perfectly acceptable to change a rating.

  3. Ooh, this is a hard problem!
    I feel the need to comment on this because I faced nearly the same issue not too long ago!
    I would read a new book, and instantly I would think it was the best thing I have EVER read, rate it five stars, carry it around for a week, and THEN…
    I picked up a different book.
    And on and on the cycle goes.
    Now, after reading even more books than before, I did wonder if perhaps those were undeserving now that I actually have my REAL favorite books, but then I thought:
    Give it another month or so, and my favorite books right now will be like be like my favorite books a month ago–Perhaps not deserving of all the love I gave them.
    So then I got all tangled up in these thoughts, knowing that whatever I found I would always find better, and then I finally decided to leave my ratings and stand by my words before, because I think that every book serves their purpose.
    We will always find a ‘better’ book, or a ‘better’ Genre, but those books before were still number one to you at one point, and that’s why I left my ratings. Because they were my favorite; They made me read late into the night and squeal at the good parts and get mad when they ended, just like my ‘favorite’ books do now. They played their part, and I respect every book I’ve ever read, because they GIVE me something to compare my latest favorite books off of in the first place–Make since?
    So this issue sounds a lot like what you’re saying. Perhaps the solution can be found the same way my problem was solved?
    I hope I helped!

    ~Nothing Is Impossible~

  4. I have the same problem. I suffer from the Shiny New Thing syndrome, whether it’s a new genre (to me), new series, new kind of setting.. You name it. I get overexcited. I’ve worked on that for the last few years while I was blogging and it has made me more critical of what I read, but also more of a fangirl for the books I did end up loving after reading.

    When I look back to my ratings from 3 years ago I get really twitchy and want to change them, since I don’t like them so much anymore, but I don’t. There’s only a handful of titles I’ve changed the rating on and I plan to keep it that way. Sometimes while writing a review for a book I’ve read not too long ago I’ll go ahead and change the rating, but that doesn’t really count I think.

    /rambling

  5. I love your blog, and I think it would be a great idea to go back and add a post script at the end of the review, updating the entry with your new perspective. Plus it would help direct other people to other, comparable works that they might enjoy more.

  6. I’m the same way! I read a book and think it’s the best thing ever only to realize a few weeks, months or years down the line that there are others out there that were significantly better. Knowing this about myself, it’s why I’ve stayed away from rating systems on my blog, I would rather explain what I liked/didn’t like about a book than assign it a number that may not be representative of what I really thought of the book. I’ve always had issues with rating systems for that reason. I think it can be really difficult to assign a number value to what I thought of a book especially when I may be giving two books the same rating but for two completely different reasons.

    I think it’s just interesting to consider just how quickly our tastes might change in general. Sure as we become more well-versed in a genre we might realize that what we thought was great at first isn’t so much now that we’ve been exposed to more. But it can just be that our tastes change as well. I think there’s a lot that goes into what we think of a book and how we would rate it at any given time. That number value makes it easy for comparison, but then maybe there’s more that can go in to a comparison than just a rating.

    At the end of the day though, I think our ratings often express how we feel about a book in the moment rather than an in-depth literary analysis of the content, writing, etc. (I may also be completely wrong, here) and that’s where changing ratings might get tricky. Sure, now you may not feel the same way about the book than when you originally rated it, but if you let people know that your opinions change over time, I think they’ll understand that the ratings aren’t necessarily 100% representative.

    And hopefully, that ramble made sense and helped.

  7. I guess I never really thought of it that way before, but it kind of makes sense. But at the same time, it doesn’t seem exceptionally fair. When I read a book, I like to focus on this book and not another book in the same genre. I’ve been guilty of it myself, but I’m trying to avoid doing so. I think the only time I really take it into consideration is when it’s a sequel. Kind of like “How did Book One compare to Book Two?” But I still try to hold them as individuals.

    Also, when you’ve read multiple books in the same genre, I think it’s up to the authors to add that new something-something. You can only read certain plot lines before so long so the authors need to get more creative in the plots. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the first book I read in the genre was bad, it just means new release need to have more than just the basics.

    As far as changing your rating, I think that should be reserve for books that you reread. If you rated it a 5/5 the first time, but would give it a 3/5 when you read it again, I think that would be fair to change the rating – with maybe a not at the bottom of your review as to why you changed it. Otherwise, you’re creating a lot of unnecessary work and stress for yourself. At least that’s my opinion on the situation.

  8. I think for us readers, our book tastes change like our music tastes! My Goodreads also displays a lot of times I get “stuck” in a genre. There will be several memoirs lumped together, then historical, then dystopian, etc. And then when I recommend a book that I read years ago to someone nowadays, i read the synopsis and wonder what hooked me so much about it that I gave it such a high rating. But! I think of it like this: when I was in sixth grade, I LOOOOVED Good Charlotte. So obsessed with them. Now, I’ve moved on, and my musical tastes are no where near where they were, and the idea that i liked Good Charlotte so much is a little embarrassing to me, but I will still sing along if I hear one of their songs 🙂 It’s not my favorite anymore, and I’ll judge it a little differently, but it still has a little sweet memory 🙂

  9. This is a really interesting thought! I don’t think I’ve consciously thought about it but I realize that it’s always been there, in the back of my head. Not necessarily when it comes to specific genres, but I realize when I go through the books I’ve read throughout the year to pick my favourites (like when I’m doing your super awesome survey, for example 😉 hehe), I realize that even though I may have given a book 4 stars, it wasn’t really because it was an example of a great book…I just really enjoyed reading it at the time. That probably wouldn’t make sense to anyone except big readers! I haven’t changed my ratings though. I think that’s mostly because I’m lazy and haven’t thought too deeply about it! This comment probably didn’t help you much…lol. Made me think about it more, though!

  10. I totally have this problem – I’ve also gone back and realized that my ratings are based on where I am in my life – if I’m really happy, I tend to give great ratings, or if I haven’t been feeling up to par, I tend to give lower ratings. I also feel like I’m more able to identify major problems in books than I was before blogging, so I suspect that in general, my ratings are a little lower than they used to be.

    The thing is…a rating is based on where you are when you read the book right then. It’s supposed to be subjective. Reviewing is a subjective act. So I haven’t gone back and changed anything. I think my internal rating system changes with every book I read, and that’s NORMAL.

    What’s interesting is that when I’m recommending books to people, I don’t always recommend things that I gave 5 stars. It depends on the person and the book they’re looking for. So…I don’t always trust ratings for everything and you shouldn’t either – trust what’s in your heart at the moment and don’t worry about newness to a genre or anything else.

  11. I definitely think this happens a lot. I know it’s happened to me. I typically like to spread out books from different genres instead of reading books primarily from one genre for a while or something like that. Like, I’ll read a fantasy and then a contemporary and then another genre. Then, once I’ve gotten a little break from fantasy, I’ll eventually go back to it. It’s not so much a set system as it is me just naturally gravitating towards genres different than what I’ve just read. I think that helps me from comparing a book too harshly against others in its genre. Of course, sometimes I still get in these moods where I read a book and just can’t like it because it’s not as great as others I’ve read in the genre.

    Although, I’ve honestly gotten a bit more critical about all books recently. I’m taking several classes this semester where I’m doing a lot of reading, so I’ve been going through more books recently than I typically would in this same time frame. Several of these books have been incredible, and I fell in love with them. However, I’ve also read a lot of other good books in this time span that typically I would have praised, but I’ve been extremely critical of them because I can’t get these great books out of my mind, even though they’re typically not even close to being in the same genre. It’s not a problem I typically have, but I think it’s a result of going through so many books so quickly.

  12. I do this a lot. I recently reread a book that I loved the first time I read it. The second time I read it, I was like, what the heck did I like about this? And I think it’s because I have read more in the genre now and have found books that are so much better. I don’t think you can stop comparing books to other books in a genre. It’s just kind of human nature to do that. I always get really paranoid about it though with books that I reviewed on my blog. I think about people browsing my archives and thinking that a certain book is a 4-star book, when in actuality, it’s a 3-star book. Am I making bad recommendations? So basically I just try not to think about it. Like you, I may go change the rating on Goodreads, but I leave it alone on my blog.

  13. You pose a VERY interesting question, Jamie, one that I think many of us have wrestled with over the years. I think some of it has to do with discoverability. It’s all about the newness and how excited we are to experience that kind of story for the very first time. I think back to Twilight, for example. As much as I hate to admit it, that series is what pulled me headfirst into the YA world that I love so much. So while I look back now and KNOW that those books weren’t the greatest, I can’t ever forget becoming totally engrossed in Meyer’s world and I can’t ignore the feeling of wonder that came from reading them. That’s the fun of reading, afterall! We’re supposed to feel something. That’s how you know a story has done its job!

    I’ve thought about re-rating books but at the end of the day, I have to go with my initial gut feeling. Sure, my feelings might change over time but I still keep my ratings the same. For me, becoming more well read in a genre just makes it harder for books I read later on to garner a higher rating. My expectations change and I think that’s totally normal. At the end of the day, you have to go with your gut and remember that books affect us all in a very different way. You just have to trust yourself and all will be well in the end.

  14. I don’t typically change my ratings on Goodreads. I do however sometimes update my reviews with my comments after a reread. I feel as if my original thoughts and ratings versus my thoughts and rating later is a depiction of my own growth. I like seeing how my thoughts change over time.

  15. I am having so many problems with this. It’s hard to separate out when my feelings are because of genre fatigue and when they’re actual issues with the book. On the one hand, every book deserves to be looked at for what it is but I still think it’s a legit critique to say when a book is one more in a long line of the same book. I don’t know. I’m constantly going back and changing my star ratings on GR after enough time has past for me to get over the initial rush of OMG THIS IS AMAZING ebbs.

  16. I do have this issue. Like…I’ll admit this to you: when I first read Twilight, it BLEW me away. 5 stars, more than 5. A few years later, I re-read the first three books and I was like WHUT. WHAT IS THIS. My tastes had already changed SO much. Now I’m looking at doing a re-read with friends next month and I’m already cringing in fear of what I’ll think.

    And this has happened with a lot of genres. Like… The Hunger Games. LOVED IT, and I can’t think about them without tearing up. (I really don’t think I’m going to survive all the movies, especially the Gale/Katniss parts.) But the more I think about Mockingjay, the angrier I get, and the more I realize I’ve read other dsystopians that maybe weren’t as emotional, but the world-building was different/better, or the ending didn’t make me want to throw the book across the room.)

    And it’s especially happened with YA because I’ve read SO MUCH of it in the last two years. I’ve gotten harder with my ratings – I’m loathe to give out a 5 star now, because when I do, it needs to have wrecked me in so many ways.

  17. You know, I have been thinking about a similar thing myself. I’ve been rather unimpressed by a whole lot of books I’ve read this year and think a lot of my dissatisfaction has to do with the fact that I am more well-read than I was even last year. I start to notice (and be annoyed by) things that never bothered me before, like multiple POVs in a book. I expect a lot more than I used to… I want good characterization and a good plot and decent language and believable romance, etc. I imagine if I went back and reread some of the books I raved over when I started blogging (or before I blogged) that I would have much different opinions now that I have morphed into Little Miss Picky. I guess this is just one of the side effects of growing as a reader!

  18. I have the exact problem! Like you, when I first read contemporary, I loved it. I rated every single book 4 stars but later, I would go back and reconsider my rating. I hate it but I understand why it happens. I never feel the need to change my rating because I think book ratings all depend on what you were feeling at the time. To me, I rate a book based on what I’m feeling at the time. I understand that I might later love or hate a book more but it all depends on the time that I read the book. I generally never compare books to other books in the same genre because I think that books need to be looked at on their own. If I compared every book to something else, I’d always be comparing it to one book I really enjoyed and I understand that not all books can live up to my expectations. Great post and thanks for sharing 🙂

  19. I definitely have thinked this before! I used to love certain types of books but now as I look back I ask myself why I liked them. I think part of it might because I was going through certain phases in my life when I could relate to the novels. I definitely have changed in terms of what I want from a book and I have a higher set of criteria now that I’m more widely read.

  20. Although I try to just review/rate books all by themselves, it’s hard not to compare it to other books in the same genre, especially if they are pretty similar. It does make sense to compare books within a genre to each other when going to suggest a book to someone to read in that particular genre. Great discussion post as always!

    I have gone back and changed ratings on some books when I really had time to think about it and realized it’s not as great as I thought. (Although usually I do this like a few weeks after reading.)

  21. That’s why I always judge my ratings based on how the book makes me feel in that moment – and I don’t compare it to any others. Did I enjoy the book? Did it keep me entertained? Did it make me feel something? If I can answer a yes to at least two of these, it’s a good book. I like cheesy, cliche books just as much as I like well written, thought provoking and philosophical books! The distinction is that I like them all for different reasons.

    Of course, if I read a book that was a carbon copy of another book, I’ll probably rate it based on that.

  22. This is a GREAT post! Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers for you. :/ I think it’s okay to change your ratings, but maybe treat EVERY book as if it were the FIRST you read in the genre? Or every one as if it were the tenth?

  23. I feel like all I read now is contemporary, whether that be YA or Adult. Wait. That’s because it’s ALL I ever read now, haha. But seriously, it’s so hard to venture away from it. I just love it so much. I do have Allegiant to read, so that’ll be a nice break from my beloved contemps. As for changing my ratings on books.. no, I try and leave them as be. My thoughts on that is because I feel we can change our minds over anything as time goes by & more experiences arise. I’d rather go with my first thoughts on a book and leave it at that. If I’m ever unsure of what to rate a book, I’ll give myself a few days to think on it after I finish and then rate it. But I hardly ever go back and change it.

  24. I am a horribly inconsistent rating, and the topic you’re talking about here is definitely linked to that. I too have doubts about changing ratings later on, and sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t. It mostly depends on my mood, but the thing is, it still stands that at that point in time that book was exactly what i loved reading. My taste in books changes pretty quickly because it also greatly depends on my mood and other factors like it. So in general I already have a tough time rating books. Which is why I tend to stick with my ratings more often than changing them.

  25. I’ve been thinking about EXACTLY the same thing during the last couple of weeks. I just don’t know what to do: I don’t think I’m going to change my rating, but maybe I’ll reread some books I think need a new rating and just post the new review?

  26. Yes, yes, and yes. Going over my previous Goodreads ratings I often wonder about the ratings I gave. But then, and for this reason, I have always tried to rate books based on how much I enjoyed them AT THE TIME. Short of going back and rereading everything, I think we’re always going to have this problem.

  27. I feel the same way sometimes, but I rarely go back and change a rating. As others have said – it is how I felt at the time, and like someone else said, ratings are a totally subjective thing. One of the reasons I don’t rate on my blog when discussing a book, is because I’d probably go a bit OCD and anal about the ratings etc., but on Goodreads/ Amazon, where there are hundreds/ thousands of other ratings – even if I’m no longer as gushy about a book, I figure that the average rating conveys a good recommendation (or not) for a book.

  28. I actually really agree with what you’ve had to say in this post! I always start off exploring a genre and feeling like I’ve read the best of the best in it — only to discover that it’s not necessarily true. Personally, I just keep the ratings I originally had since that is how I genuinely felt at the time, and only shift them in case of a re-read that makes me feel differently about the book. As for recommending stuff to other people, I always go with what seems to me to be the best in the genre, especially after I’ve read a lot of stuff.

Trackbacks

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  2. […] Jamie talked about what happens when she becomes more well-read in a genre. […]

  3. […] When You Become More Well-Read in a Genre… from The Perpetual Page-Turner […]

  4. […] post about becoming more picky as you read more within a genre really echoed my thoughts on the subject, […]

  5. […] may be, like Jamie discusses, when you explore a genre, and find that the early examples you read weren’t amazing in […]