But when the last page of the great book is read and I go to mark the book as read on Goodreads (because otherwise how do you know you finished a book or read it in the first place) I always hesitate to assign that star rating. I mean, if I loved the book it's not so hard to give it 5 stars or even 4 stars but what if I didn't love it? What if it was just okay? Or it felt like trudging through a swamp? Who am I to assign 1 star to Little Women? (Please don't send me angry messages.) I'm not a student of literature. To be honest my literature classes were some of my least favorite in college and I'd rather stick a fork in my eye than listen to an hour of in depth literary discussion on symbolism and metaphors and all that. What right do I have to label an important or classic book 1 star or 5 stars?
Luckily I had a long drive ahead of me and is there really a better time to mull over issues than a 400 mile drive? Especially when you're by yourself. Here's what I came up with: While I really can't assign literary value or rate lasting power of a particular book, my reading experience is just as valuable as anyone else's. So when I rate a book (not just a classic) I'm rating my reading experience and I'm talking about my opinion of what I liked and disliked.
There was quite a lot about it that I enjoyed. Some of the adventures Huckleberry and Jim get themselves into are very entertaining and I wanted to know just how they were going to get themselves out of a few scrapes. But there was a lot I didn't love. For starters it just felt too long. I was entertained at first by the King and the Duke but after awhile I just didn't care any more and that seemed to be the way many of the adventures went. As well the language made me really uncomfortable. While the racial slurs may have been okay in 1880 they were a bit startling in 2017 and there were a LOT of them. As well I think with the different strong dialects that the characters speak in an audio book is the way to go. I'm not sure I'd have been able to wade through Jim and Huck's conversations if I was trying to read it!
Which brings me back to my original question - how do you rate a classic? While I can definitely understand the literary and culture value of this book I can't say I fully enjoyed this reading experience. However, parts were entertaining and I found the issues raised about race relations in the pre-Civil War South interesting and thought provoking. So overall I when it came time to fill in the stars on Goodreads I went with 3.
How do you rate classics?
How do you rate classics?