Why yes, believe it or not, like every other website and their mother, CCLaP will be releasing a "best-of" list later this month regarding the novels that have been reviewed here in 2007, a total nominee list of around 65 books by the time New Year's rolls around. (I will not, however, be doing a similar list for movies, since all the movies reviewed here are watched on DVD, and therefore are significantly older than twelve months in age.) As mentioned, I'm in the middle of writing it these days, and have quickly realized something, that I've never really explained CCLaP's scoring system here nor what each range of numbers mean in plain language. I mean, it's a 10-point scale, so it's not that difficult to figure out yourself; but there are definitely certain types of books that often get lower scores here than they deserve, in terms of just pure quality, and I thought it important to detail how exactly that breaks down before publishing CCLaP's best-of list next week. Anyway, so here are how the scores on novels here at the site break down in my own head, as the guy giving them out:
10: A perfect combination of all the things CCLaP finds important in the arts -- a perfect story, perfect characters, written in a highly engaging style, concerning a complex subject that challenges the status quo, and especially if coming from a self-publisher or basement press. Right now it looks like only two of the 65 books reviewed here in 2007 will end up getting a perfect 10, a popular one (Cormac McCarthy's The Road) and an obscure one (Michael FitzGerald's Radiant Days).
9.0-9.9: A highly superior book, the exact kind I like to find and feature here at CCLaP. The reason, in fact, that the site seems to have more books rated in the 9 range than other literary websites, is that I specifically seek out books to review here that I believe beforehand I'm going to like; that's the "luxury" I have, after all, in not being a paid reviewer with an existing publication, is that I get to highly selectively choose which books will be reviewed here. If a book in a genre you don't normally read is rated in the 9 range here, it means it's one you should take a chance on anyway.
8.0-8.9: Surprisingly enough, not usually a mediocre book per se, but rather one that is both loved and hated by many, and that a "mid-grade" compromise was found here when rating it. Much of the genre work I recommend falls in this range, stuff that would normally get a higher score if this blog covered that specific genre only for that specific audience only.
7.0-7.9: The mediocre stuff, peppered with occasional great genre novels that have only a slender niche appeal (love stories, steampunk, historical drama, etc).
6.0-6.9: Books only for extreme circumstances -- an airport, a beach, a visit to a disliked family member. Not exactly contributing to the decline of our culture, but not exactly contributing anything good either.
5.0-5.9: Books for last-ditch situations -- like a visit to a disliked family member, for example, where you forgot to bring your own book, and have only the ones on the family member's shelves to choose from. Basically, one step up from the Reader Digests stacked in your grandmother's bathroom.
Under 5: Not recommended.
Anyway, I hope that helps everyone understand the ratings system here a little better, going into this year-in-review essay that will be getting posted here soon, as well as simply proves that there really is a method behind the sometimes seemingly arbitrary scores that are awarded here in the first place. As always, thoughts concerning CCLaP's scoring system are always welcome, either as a comment below or via email to cclapcenter [at] gmail.com.