Here at Brewing Up Books, we use a five cauldron system to rate the books, movies, and TV shows that we discuss from week to week. As an extremely indecisive person, I often struggle with determining a numerical rating for each work that I review, and half cauldrons do nothing to improve matters. After all, what distinguishes a book that receives 3 cauldrons from one that receives 3.5? Are they really all that different?
Whenever I finish reading a book, I generally expect one of two outcomes: I’m very passionate about the publication (ie. I either loved it or absolutely hated it/marked it DNF – these books generally receive 5 cauldrons and 1 cauldron respectively), or I’m relatively indifferent to certain aspects of the work. To be completely transparent, I’ve found the 5 cauldrons and 1 cauldron reviews to be the easiest to write – I generally have the most to say, and I can definitively expand on a wide variety of topics, hence why these posts tend to be longer than my 2-4 cauldron reviews. These middle rankings are where things tend to get a little murky for me with respect to how I determine which value corresponds most appropriately with a given book.
Unless I am unable or unwilling to complete a book for whatever reason, I generally wait until I’ve finished the work in its entirety before finalizing my rating. Unfortunately, I’m not always able to write a review immediately after reading the corresponding book. I’ve found it extremely beneficial in these cases, however, to take notes and mark passages (with highlighting or Post-It notes) while reading so that I can quickly return to them at a later date. I ultimately incorporate many of these ideas and comments into my review and consequently consider them while determining my rating.
As you can see at the end of our recent reviews (click here for an example), we’ve started including a rating breakdown, which consists of a series of general categories and their respective “sub-ratings.” While this inclusion certainly assists in the assignment of an overall rating, I’ve found the categories to be rather broad and have gradually developed my own list of criteria throughout the years:
(click to enlarge)