discussion

Discussion: how nostalgia affects ratings

Hey there!

After the lovely and encouraging words from Malka @ Paper Procrastinators, I decided to write a discussion post. I love reading them but was never very confident when writing my own. Today I’m going to try though.

(By the way, if you’re planning on reading Midnight Sun, like I did, please consider educating yourself on the real Quileutes – who were vastly misrepresented – and donate here if you can to help save the tribe)

53287484Recently, I’ve read Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer. In case you’ve been under a rock for the last couple of months (or years), this is Twilight but from Edward’s POV. Going into it, I already knew everything that would happen, how the story would pan out, and even most of the dialogues that would take place.

So this was not a new story to me. The writing wasn’t even that good. All of Twilight’s problems (the stalking, the over-dramatic characters, the misrepresentation of the Quileute tribe, etc) were still there. And yet.

While reading, I found myself enjoying the book. A lot. In fact, I read this brick of a book (it’s almost 700 pages) in just 3 days. Just in case you’re wondering, I’m not a fast reader at all so this really was impressive to me. In the end, just for the enjoyment and memories it brought up, I ended up rating it 3 stars (this is a good rating! If you want, you can check out my rating system here).

Objectively, it was not a good book in my opinion. But it transported me back to my first few years as a reader, and I couldn’t help but get caught up in all the nostalgic feelings it brought home.

Twilight was one of the first books that got me into reading in the first place, and even if looking back I now know it wasn’t a great book, it still opened so many doors for me. It helped me discover a new passion that completely changed my life. Thank’s to it I started reading classics and found out that I actually liked some of them. Once I was done with the series, reading had become such an ingrained habit that I immediately went looking for something else to pick up. Midnight Sun made me relive all the wonder of discovering something new that fills you with happiness and joy, and feeling like there really is magic in the world.

Book GIF - Find on GIFER

No matter how many dramatic statements, or creepy stalking, or wonky writing happened on the page, I couldn’t separate the book from what it made me feel. I understand that my rating was affected by it, and it doesn’t truly reflect my objective opinions, but I couldn’t bring myself to rate it any lower. Because in the middle of a pandemic, while I’m still stuck at home, it made me laugh, and reminisce about my childhood and better times and all the friendships that came with this story. It reminded me why I love to read.

Of course, that got me thinking about how much nostalgia can impact how we rate/view books. Is this the only reason we can’t let go of Harry Potter, even when the author keeps on being a troll online? Is this why, to this day, every time I reread Percy Jackson I can’t help but rate it 5 stars? Or why, even though I have no space left, I can’t unhaul some of my old books that I don’t even reach for anymore?

I don’t have a conclusive answer, but it’s most likely that yes, nostalgia has a major impact on my reading life. However, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Feelings are what moves us, and I can only hope that I’ll continue to fall in love with books for the rest of my life.

Do you think that nostalgia plays a big part in your reading experience? How do you feel about it?

Until next time,

juli

16 thoughts on “Discussion: how nostalgia affects ratings

  1. Juli! I’m so happy to see that you wrote your first discussion!! How does it feel??

    Not gonna lie, I had no plans of reading Midnight Sun before I read this post, but now I’m debating whether I should get a copy from my library. Because you’re 100% right. Nostalgia is such a big factor of why I still have love in my heart for this book, while I now can recognize the problematic elements it contains.

    I think that for me though, nostalgia only works when something is left in the past. Once I start rereading childhood books, there’s a chance that the things I notice will things I dislike, and that will impact my rating of the book upon reread. Or sometimes the writing style or the characters no longer mesh with me, and I end up no longer having those fond feelings.

    So for me, while nostalgia can only impact my rating to a certain extent it definitely keeps childhood books on the shelf. As long as I don’t reread them, my mind will only focus on the positive aspects and the details that made me love the book, and the books can remain a prized possession. Once I reread the book, the nostalgia takes a backseat, and if I dislike the book enough, I may lower the rating. Although honestly, the last few times I picked up childhood favorites I was no longer interested in reading them anymore. I still love them because of nostalgia, but the interest is no longer there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Malka! Thank you so much once again for your encouragement ❤︎
      I had some doubts while writing this post. It looked very lengthy and I wasn’t sure if I even made sense at all, but once it was done I was actually super happy with it.

      I’m not going to lie, I found myself rolling my eyes a lot while reading it but it was also so much fun. If you do end up picking it up, I’d love to know what you think of it.

      It’s so nice that you can separate the nostalgia from your objective thoughts on a book! Even when I reread an old favorite and find that it no longer speaks to me as much as it used to, I still can’t help but be wrapped up by the old things it made me feel. It’s why I pretty much never change my first ratings.

      Thank you for such a great comment! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been pondering nostalgia in reading recently because of Midnight Sun as well! Twilight was such a HUGE part of my life and encouraged me to read new genres when I was younger, too. It will always have a special place in my heart. I still recognize all the things wrong with the series and don’t find them as entertaining on the whole, but the Twilight world is still one of my favorites (and those movie soundtracks are still AMAZING)!!

    I found myself skimming at points where it was primarily the same conversations from Twilight…but all that non-Edward-related Cullen content was what I’ve been wanting so badly for 10 years! It was so fun to finally read this book we’ve been waiting so long for! I decided not to rate it because all of the issues we already know about, but I still enjoyed it. I agree that it isn’t a bad thing to let nostalgia weigh in on a rating. That’s kind of the whole point of reading in my opinion! It doesn’t have to be the best most well-written book, it just has to have an impact. I’m rereading The Gilded Wolves right now and it’s also not THE BEST book, but it’s probably going to be a 5 stars because of the nostalgia that it holds for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Ali!
      Absolutely, the soundtracks are fantastic and shaped my teenage years in such a strong way. I still listen to some of those songs to this day and honestly, I regret nothing.

      While reading it I also skimmed a lot, especially because it’s such a huge book. I was so surprised by that, btw. I mean, I don’t remember Twilight being as chunky but it’s the same story ?? Getting to know more about the Cullens, and Alice in particular, was definitely the highlight of this book. She was always my favorite and she deserved so much more on-page time.
      I haven’t read The Gilded Wolves yet, but it’s been on my TBR for a while now. I’ve heard so many good things about it and the synopsis looks great.

      Exactly! Even if I’m trying to be more critical with my reviews, reading is about having fun. If a book moves me enough, I know I’m not going to be totally rational while writing about it and that’s ok. After all, that’s what art is all about, right?

      Thank you for such a lovely comment 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Juli! I was also kind of surprised. At some point, the word for word copying of Twilight was just a bit too much for me. I loved Alice, too! Always my favorite Cullen. Rosalie as always, got the short end of the stick, though. She deserves better!

        I totally agree with you, that’s the whole point of art 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Really interesting post!

    For me, I feel like the way I rate my stories is all about the experience. So yes, nostalgia plays a large part in my readings and ratings!!

    Earlier this quarantine I read the Chronicles of Narnia series since I was feeling especially nostalgic. Then I read it and I hated each and every book; they ended up being some of my worst rated books of the year. BUT I still gave it two stars, just because of some of the childhood love I had for it. Additionally, the Harry Potter series — there is so much love that I have for it (even though the author is horrible) and while I can acknowledge it is heavily flawed, it provided so much light to my childhood that I just can’t give it anything besides five stars.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not being able to separate the book from how it makes you feel. The reason that people like books is because you can visualize the story in your head. You can personally empathize with it. The experience, I think, is actually the MOST important part when rating a book.

    Enjoyed this post a lot ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Richa!

      Thank you for reading it. I know it was a bit of a longer one 🤭

      The Chronicles of Narnia are also some of my childhood favorites, but, now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever reread them. I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy them this time around. Honestly, Harry Potter holds so many amazing memories for me and it affected my life so much that it’s very hard to let go of that world, but I’ve decided to enjoy them privately from now on. The author is being so awful that I don’t want to further support her. However, it’s very hard for me to rate it lower than 4 stars as well, despite all of its flaws.

      I love that! You’re absolutely right, the experience really is the most important part. Happy to know I’m not the only one who thinks like that.

      Thank you so much for such an amazing comment ❤︎

      Like

    1. It can definitely be disappointing when the book doesn’t meet your memory’s expectations, but it can also be such an amazing journey down memory lane. As the saying goes, books really are a uniquely portable magic ✨

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nostalgia definitely affects how I rate books. I actually re-read the Twilight series a few months ago, and even then the nostalgia played a huge role in how I felt about them. If I had read the books for the first time this year, they each probably would have gotten under 3 stars, but I gave all of them 3+ stars. I’m someone who rates based on a mixture of enjoyment & critique, so my rating does get affected by my feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jessica!

      When I think about it like that, I’m sure I wouldn’t have rated any of the first YA books I read any more than 3 stars either 😂 but I’m sure that also has to do with how we have grown as readers. I really like how you come up with your ratings, it leaves space for the experience as well as how the story itself is crafted. Glad to see I’m not the only one who lets her feeling interfere with ratings.

      Thank you for commenting 😊

      Like

  5. Oh, I absolutely love this post, Juli! A very lovely discussion.❤️

    I will be the first to admit that nostalgia has and will probably continue to affect my ratings, but that’s okay- I know that no matter how many times I reread Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Mysterious Benedict Society, or other books from my childhood, I will probably always rate them five stars. For me, the reading experience is enhanced by my nostalgia, which then leads to me giving them higher ratings. My rating is mostly based on how I felt while reading it, and I can’t help but get serotonin and all the feels when I read books that have great memories attached, so I think that’s why.

    That’s not to say I haven’t returned to a childhood favorite and then questioned the five star rating I gave it before…but at the end of the day, I’m not reading to be super critical, I’m reading because I love the fictional worlds I get to be a part of, and that especially rings true with childhood favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve put it so concisely and well written, while I just rambled for this entire post 😅 but that’s exactly what I meant!
      The reading experience is so important and it affects my enjoyment of the book a lot, and with old favorites I’ll always have a good experience because of all the feelings and memories attached to it.
      Besides, I’ve had enough time to recognize that maybe they weren’t the best written books, but that doesn’t really matter. As you said, I’m reading because I love the world and the characters, end especially the way they made (and still make) me feel.
      Thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such an interesting discussion, I love it so much! I have to say, I can’t recall the last book I re-read, too many new books to get to and I tend to, well… prioritize them 😂 Therefore, I don’t really fall into the nostalgia “trap”, well, I haven’t lately. That being said, my ratings are definitely based on how i’m feeling most of the time and I can see myself re-reading some favorites and, despite the time passed and my criticism having evolved, still rating a book 5-stars even if it’d deserve less. My heart is soft, I can’t help it and all the fond memories are there, too ❤ that being said, I know that despite having my twilight days a long time ago, i will now never pick them back up and re-read them, or read midnight sun at all. I just, can't and don't want to. with these books, the nostalgia is… maybe there a little bit, but not as strong as some other books 🙂
    This is a lovely post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t tend to reread much as well, my TBR is already big enough as is, but I also can’t let go of physical copies from old favorites. I have a Chronicles of Narnia copy that is literally falling apart, I’ve had it since I was a kid, and because of all the nostalgia I can’t get rid of it. It’s not even readable anymore 😅
      I’m so glad you agree! After seeing so many well-written critical reviews, I was starting to think that I was just too soft with mine.
      Thank you so much! And thank you for such a lovely comment as well 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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