My Personal Book Rating System

I've read the argument that the reason movies have a rating system is so that parents can decide in a more informed manner what content is appropriate for their minor children.

I support this, and I have often felt that the current rating system is helpful, but it could certainly stand to be improved upon. Obviously, movie companies have a lot to lose if a more detailed or stringent system were in place, and many would argue that the current system is adequate and that it is a parents job to be more stringent themselves if that is their viewpoint and aim.

I also, however, take a little bit of issue with the idea that the rating system is solely there to protect children. I am not alone in using ratings and disclaimers as a way to judge if a movie is appropriate for me myself to watch. Not only am I very sensitive and easily disturbed by violent images, depictions of sex outside marriage, and swearing, among other things, but I also feel that these things are harmful to my thinking, and erode my spiritual relationships so I am careful to give heed to my conscience in these matters.

Herein lies the mine field for a book lover like me. Books have no real rating system or content disclosures. Very often and with growing frequency, after reading through the plot synopsis, I begin a book, or even get well into it when it takes a turn toward very mature content.

I don't mean a brief violent scene, or an allusion to some act, or even an instance or two that the page can easily be turned over or skipped, but gritty and graphic and detailed content repeated throughout the writing. So often a very good or otherwise intriguing and enjoyable story line and excellent character development have been ruined for me because of the integral nature of such content to the story or the saturation level throughout the read.

I expect to occasionally run into books where I skip over parts here and there, but I would certainly appreciate a better heads up when I am perusing the bookshelves.

I realize this type of universal disclosure is likely never to occur on any sort of grand scale in the book industry, it would likely only serve a relatively small amount of readers such as myself, but could theoretically severely impact the already meager profits book publishers and authors make in comparison to the movie industry.

However, here in my cozy little internet book nook, I can at least provide this service for my readers, a good portion of which I would guess might be somewhat like minded.

Here is what I will try to provide for my readers:

1.) An honest review of story, characters, and writing style, even if I find certain elements objectionable. I will skip over what I can, and alert my reading audience if a lot of skimming over parts was necessary, and why, or if I cannot even finish the book due to saturation.

2.) A disclaimer to alert to certain elements of content, including if possible the frequency or intensity. (I may not be able to provide the later for some books, especially if I could not even finish it due to those elements, but I will alert readers to that result.)

3.) A rating system similar to television and video game ratings.

  • 7+ - Age seven and above
  • PT - Preteen
  • GA- (General Adult readers) few or no instances of sex/swearing/violence (SSV)
  • RD- (Readers Discretion) - Some SSV, not explicit, and primarily related specifically to the plot, or scene, and generally in the light of being a bad example rather than glorified. (Ex. a murder mystery is going to have a murder scene of sorts, and a book about a teenage mother may allude to the obvious act that led to pregnancy. The story lines however should focus on catching the criminal, and sending the message that our choices have consequences on more than just ourselves, etc.)
  • NR- (Not Recommended) for sensitive readers or those whose conscience would find the contents offensive.
Also I will give books a ranking system I will call AWBB (A Wee Bit Bookish) Book Points. a basic 1-5 ranking system using exclamation points!!

Part of being a book reviewer includes the agreements that I personally have made with a publisher, author, or promotion site. Most often this will include a free print or e-copy of a book in exchange for an honest review. While I do try to screen the books I choose or am offered to the best of my abilities, there is only so much that can be learned from a plot summery, so occasionally I may write a review for a book which I personally would not buy or recommend to a friend or even may not have been able to finish because of taking issue with particular content elements, but have given my word to review. Keeping my word is important. I will do my very best to always respect my readers, my authors, their publishers and distributors, and myself.

How do you select reading material, and what kind of guidelines would you like to see when it comes to literature? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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