A System for Rating Books, Non-Fiction

Last week, I introduced a ratings system for fiction books, which rates books across ten categories. However, not all of the categories work for non-fiction books, so I’ve done some more thinking and created an adaptation suited for this type of book:

  • Premise: How do I feel about the premise of the book, based on such criteria as relevance, interest, accessibility, and simplicity vs. complexity? In the context of non-fiction, is the topic framed in an interesting and helpful way?
  • Intrigue: How interesting is it? Does it make me want to turn the page to find out more?
  • Information: How useful is the book? Does it provide an appropriate amount of information to cover the scope of the book?
  • Authority: To what extent is the author able to write authoritatively about the subject? If they aren’t a subject matter expert, have they shown they’ve done the work to do justice to the breadth and depth of the topic?
  • Responsibility: To what extent is the information presented in a responsible way? Are there obvious distortions or biases in the presentation? Also, does the book’s content properly match the audience suggested by the title, ‘look’ of the book, and framing of the topic?
  • Success: Does the book do what it sets out to do?
  • Structure: Is the material presented in a way that is easy to follow? Does it have an internal logic?
  • Writing: How well is it written? Is the writing style good and effective? Does it suit the genre and register of the topic and publication?
  • Enjoyment: How enjoyable was it? Based purely on subjective grounds, how was the experience of reading the book?
  • Meaning or Lasting Impact: How impactful was the book? Was there a message, insight, or deeper meaning? Do you think the book will stick with you for a long time after reading it?

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