Candy’s Grading System

Sarah posted her grading standards, so what the hell, I figured I’ll post mine.

Some things I want to make clear:

    • When I read a romance novel, I’m not looking for absolute realism. If I wanted something realistic, I’ll pick up some non-fiction. What I do look for is a sort of believable internal consistency. In the immortal words of Mark Twain: “(T)he man who talks corrupt English six days in the week must and will talk it on the seventh, and can’t help himself.”
    • Sometimes a book can be technically perfect and still leave me cold. There are many authors who don’t hit any false notes but still don’t engage me as a reader. I don’t know why this happens.
    • I don’t think it’s possible to have a completely consistent set of objective criteria for what constitutes a “good book,” and that’s not even going into the sticky realm of books I know aren’t particularly good but that I really love anyway. Reviewing, or at least the kind I engage in, is all about subjectivity. But when I don’t like a book because of a personal prejudice—and I’ll admit I have assloads of them—I’ll try to note it as I go along.
    • All A books are keepers, but not all my keepers have A grades. Many of my comfort reads are books that are somewhere in the B range. The book as a whole isn’t that great, but there are certain passages that I really enjoy re-reading. Lisa Kleypas is an example of an author whose books I tend to keep unless I rate them C- or below.


So here goes:

A grades: A really, really good book. So good, I can barely bear to put it down to sleep, shower, go to work or feed the cats; everything is done grudgingly and in anticipation of the next moment I can pick up the book to read.

B grades: A decent read. In the B to B+ category, I look forward to picking up the book again, though the sense of urgency isn’t quite as sharp as with the A books. B- books are easily set down, but are generally pleasant to read.

C grades: Watch out, gentle traveler, we’re entering Meh territory. C- books annoy me, but only mildly so.

D grades: You will some serious snarking in all reviews of books graded D and below. These books will generally suffer from moderate internal inconsistencies and feature annoying heroes/heroines, silly plotting and/or bad grammar. D- books are juuuust barely on this side of the Cassie Edwards line.

F grades: Books that cross the Edwards Line. Take everything that annoys me in a D book and amplify it about a hundredfold, and you’ll come close to an F book. Usually the prospect of being able to get all snarly on the book’s ass is the only impetus for me to finish it.


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  1. 1
    Sarah says:

    An “A” book, also, is the best feeling ever, isn’t it? I mean, when a book is that good, it’s up there with chocolate and whipped cream and all my favorite things.

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