Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Index

Well, not exactly. I, too, though, like to categorize the books that I read. I will starting a list of books, rated with my own star system. Some of you may have noticed already that I use a star system on my reading list books, which I never took the time to explain. I'm updating this system.

Books will be ranked on a level of one to five stars. I will also employ plus and minus signs, and half and quarter stars. Here's the lowdown:

Literary Quality & Coffee Table Placement: STARS

- Less than one star means not to even waste your time. Don't even let it near your coffee table. It reads like a Dan Quayle speech.

- One star: The book has minimal value, such as perhaps improving vocabulary or providing mere diversion. It doesn't look good on a coffee-table. It might be worth reading simply to be familiar with popular fiction, or to know what stupid people read nowadays.

- Two stars: I do not really recommend the book per se, and find it to be of generally poor quality. It will have a better story or commentary than a one-star book, but not be much better written. It might be kept on a coffee table for conversation with in-laws only, and should be taken off when important people come over. It deserves a drinking-mug ring stain on the dust-cover if it is to be left on the table.

- Three stars: The book is well written, with above average skill. The story quality is engaging or the commentary relevent. It may be laid on a coffee table, but never stood up. It can be left there when important people come over, but four- and five-star books ought to be stacked on top of it.

- Four stars: This is a very good book. It is written with great skill, and has an exceptional story or message. It should be discussed over wine. It should generally stand up on the coffee table, towards the center, unless trumped by a five-star book more recently enjoyed, or when very important people come over; then it should be laid down.

- Five stars: Masterfully written, this is a superb book. It justly can be called a classic. It deserves pride of place in a collection, and on any coffee table. It should never be laid down except to top a stack of other good books (three- or four-stars only). It must be stood up when the most important people come over, and spoken about, preferably while enjoying cigars and port.

Half-stars and quarter-stars will be used to more subtly differentiate between works. They don't really matter. They're posers.

Moral Quality & Spiritual Content: PLUS or MINUS SIGN

This scale is more simple. One to three plus signs (+) will be given to a work to denotate whether it has a great moral message or not. No plus or minus means that the work is not offensive, but not very edifying either. Minus signs (-) denote a certain amount of moral objection to the work, again on a scale from one to three.

NB: This scale is not completely separate from the star system. Do not expect to find a five-star book with a minus sign next to it. If you want to argue aesthetic philosophy, we can do that another time, but I'm for holding that it simply won't work to have a book that can be said to be artistically beautiful while taking shots at moral truth. The system is separate, however, insofar as the plus and minus scale is its own, and should not be seen as a mathematical "plus" or "minus" to the rating of one to five stars. In that way, this scale stands independant.

Additional Considerations: NIGHTSTAND PLACEMENT

Unfortunately, the star scale can not be easily applied to the question of whether the book ought to occupy a nightstand and in what way. This is because nightstands bring other circumstantial things into consideration, such as a reader's state in life. Generally speaking, a married person should not have above a three-star book on his or her nightstand. A single person can get away with a four-star book being there. No one should have a five-star book there, because reading a great book in bed is disrespectful and bad kharma. This does not apply to the Bible, however, for special reasons which I think are obvious. If the book is a "throw-around" copy of a coffee-table book, such as the one you read in college with the spine all broken and highlighter markings, then that may except the book from the rule as well.

So there you have it - my rating system. I have updated my rating of Dickens to reflect these modifications. I will be posting in the near future a website, or perhaps a blog post, with the beginnings of a list. Stay tuned. Happy reading!


Blogger JMT said...

You are so OCD...

1/18/06, 1:15 AM  

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