This is a reoccurring theme with me.
When we have a choice, we don’t want some numeric number to help us choose, we want binary options. All choices, even from an array of options can be reduced to a series of binary choices.
When it comes to reading a book, you have one choice of two options: Read it, or don’t. Each book would present this same set of options, A or B.
However, there is the issue of precedence. Given two books you would like to read, which do you read first? What if there are 100? 1000? You need to be able to prioritize your choices so as to optimize your pleasure within your time allotted.
Therefore you must rank your choices. And in order to do this you must have some scale against which you can compare — in binary fashion — each choice. We all have our own spectrum, our own ranking of quality. Here I present my fiction novel ranking.
Alpha : The Hobbit Beta : Time Enough for Love Gamma : Old Man and the Sea Delta : The Martian Zeta : Harry Potter Theta : Ringworld Kapa : The Road Lambda : The Shining Sigma : Dune Omega : The Hunger Games
To use such a list, one first needs to determine “Do I want to read this book or not?” Once again — this is a binary choice: Yes or No.
Now, with that out of the way, one would then need to find some trusted fellow reader who has previously ranked this title. Say you wanted to read a story I’ve recommended, The Girl with All the Gifts — M.R. Carey.
Given the list above I, Anonymole, would place The Girl with All the Gifts here:
Delta : The Martian >>> The Girl with All the Gifts Zeta : Harry Potter
So, if you’ve read any of the books below the zeta level, (Harry Potter, Ringworld, The Road, etc.) then you can safely tell yourself, self, I’ll read this book before I read any of the others at or below zeta.
You’ve found the spot for maximum reading enjoyment in which to place this novel.
It might sound overly complicated, but it’s really just a simple, “what have I read before that compares?” concept. Of course, this is my list, you would have your own list, and I would suspect some of my comparison ranking choices would be on your list, too. Which means, I could find out where my own preferences fit on your pleasure spectrum.
I used a set of Greek letters to identify where any one book might fall. Omega is that lowest level at which I’d recommend a “to read” selection. Below that, it’s off the list. All the books I recommend reading will fall within those 10 levels. If I indicate that Year One — Nora Roberts (which I’m reading now) is a lambda level story. Well, there you have it. It’s on the list, but pretty low.
Binary choices + ranking = better than the Five Stars system.
A sister article to “My Five Stars”: