Getting beyond 5 stars for every book…
Over the course of the last five years, I have read hundreds of books and articles on topics relevant to the topics of this blog. Some of these books are famous, but many are only known to specialists in the field. One of the goals of this blog is to share with others some important books that who may not have heard of. I also want to give interested readers a suggested order that they should reading. Time is short and few people are willing to plow through hundreds of books and articles like I did. Hopefully, these reviews will enable you to start with the best books and then focus on those that cover topics of most interest to you.
In my book reviews I will rate each book, summarize what I think are the key take-aways from the book and some quotes by the author that summarize what they author is trying to say.
Book Review Rating System
It is important to realize that my rating system is very different from the typical rating system that you will find on book-selling websites, such as Amazon. Typically readers rate book using a 5-star system based upon how much they enjoyed reading the book and on how much they agreed with the author’s point-of-view. Using this system, I would rate virtually every book that I review as a 5 because I loved the book and I thought that the author made some interesting points (even if I disagreed with them).
My rating system is based on two factors: scope and readability:
Scope defines the overall relevance of the topic of the book to understanding human history, technology and progress.
5 = Book makes key theoretical observations that allow us to better understand history, technology and progress on a grand scale. It most likely, also had a big impact on my thinking.
4 = The topic of the book is focused more narrowly: perhaps on a specific type of technology, time period in history or geographical area. The author does makes some important links between their topic and the bigger theoretical issues, but most likely not in much depth.
3 = The topic of the book is quite narrow and does not delve into theory much. These types of books make up the “raw data” for more highly-rated books, but they are only worth reading if you are interested in the topic. You will not learn much that is generalizable to all of human history, technology or progress.
2 or 1 = I don’t review any books that would earn this rating. I don’t want to waste my time or yours.
Readability defines how enjoyable the book is to read. Quite frankly, most of the books that I read would not be of much interest to typical readers as they are not “page turners”. Most are only of interest to readers who are really understanding history, technology and process from a high-level. Some are academic articles full of jargon and statistical computations.
5 = Book is a “page turner”, that I think could be enjoyed by most readers with at least some interest in the topic. I recommend that all readers, regardless of their level of interest in the topic, read this book.
4 = Book if fairly interesting for fans of the topic, but not necessarily to general readers. I recommend that all readers who are interested in the topic of the book, read this book.
3 = This book will probably bore evens fans of the topic at times, but at least they could force themselves to read it. Often the writing style is “academic.” I recommend that only the serious fans who want to devour everything about this topic attempt to read it.
2 = You have got to be a serious fan of the topic or a committed academic to struggle through this book or article. It is probably best for you to read my summary and stick with that.
1 = I really struggled to read this book or article. Don’t bother.
It is tough to get a 5-star review in my system
Most important to remember is that a 4 or 3 star rating, unlikely on Amazon, is not a bad rating! Again, pretty much every book that I review on this blog would earn a “5” if I were to rate it on Amazon. I would just recommend starting with the 5-star reviews and then working on to lower ratings based upon your level of interest in the subject.