Retail sites and reader communities are all about star ratings. Which is fine. It’s an easy way for people to tell at a glance how much you enjoyed a book. But sometimes this scale is a bit too generic. Too…ordinary. If you want to really stand out, try ranking a book by the following scales:
The Kleenex Rating
All Bethany House books end with hope (not necessarily a perfect happy ending), but oh, can there ever be some sad moments in between! There’s something about a good cry while reading that is a perfect tension reliever. Whether you’re mourning a beloved character’s death, or just sympathizing with a heroine who is experiencing a similar struggle to what you’re going through, novels have a strong power to influence our emotions. I think the last Bethany House book that made me cry was From the Start by Melissa Tagg. (Yes, it’s a romantic comedy, but there’s one moment where I lost it…if you’ve read it, you can probably guess which one.)
This rating, in my mind, would include the number of tissues you went through while reading, which would correspond to the number of sad moments in the book. (Unless there was a really tragically sad moment that took more than one Kleenex.) Whether tears of joy count for this can be left up to your discretion.
The Theme Park Thrill Scale
I’m stealing this one directly from Disney World rides. To ensure that you’re aware of the intensity of a particular ride (without listening to the scream level outside of it), Disney helpfully categorizes their rides, and I think the same categories can apply well to books.
“Fun for Everyone”: A great story, loveable characters…and nothing that will scare you. These are for the people who like the focus to stay on the relationships and would rather not be terrified along the way.
“Wild but Mild”: You can still probably read these late at night without consequences, but there’s a suspense/thriller angle to the story that will keep you turning pages. (I’d include historical books with a mystery element, like Roseanna M. White’s Ladies of the Manor series.)
“Thrillers”: Hang on for plot twists and a roller coaster of suspense and emotions as characters are put in jeopardy. There may be violent situations, unsolved crimes, and bad guys lurking around every corner. (Insert every Dani Pettrey book here.)
“WHAT?” Moment Count
This is a numeric value exactly equal to the number of times you asked, “WHAT?” while reading a book. This could be astonishment at a new revelation, anger at the unbelievable stunts pulled by an incredibly narcissistic villain (shout out to Someone Like You for bringing this out in me), or giddy excitement by a character’s reaction to something. Obviously, a good mystery like Dressed for Death will have plenty of these, but even character-driven women’s fiction or historical romance should make you react emotionally to what’s going on.
Scoville (Romance) Heat Units
Okay, fine, the original scale was determined to measure the heat of peppers. But we can adapt it for our purposes, right?
If you’re measuring the romance as a whole or just the hero in particular, it’s good to know if you’ll be reading something bell pepper bland, chipotle spicy, or habanero hot!
Any other scales come to mind, readers? (If you’re a blogger/reviewer and use a creative scale of your own, feel free to tell us about it!)