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Do you wish books had ratings like movies?


Ottakee
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Tonight I foundyself wishing that books had a rating system (at least on Amazon) similar to movies..

 

G, PG, R, etc with a note about why the rating.

 

I am not trying to censor books here but would like to know when I am looking at Kindle and audio books if they are explicit, have a lot of adult language, etc.

 

Agree or disagree?

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I feel like if you're looking for it, that information is really, really easy to come by about books, especially kids' books, but really all books.

 

I have issues with how the movie ratings are made so secretly.

 

Also, I think it's just really different with books than with films. I mean, seeing something and reading it is so different.

 

 

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I don't like movie ratings. They are come up with in such a strange odd way.

 

One of my pet peeves about movie ratings is that they don't really give you trigger warnings. So, a movie could be rating PG-13 (or R) for bad language or w/e, and then suddenly have a bunch of suicide stuff in it, which is not cool if you've got issues with that. I've had that happen with multiple movies (don't recall titles).

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The MPAA rating's system is oddly incoherent in some key ways. If we had a sensible rating system from a non-biased, non-partisan group... then yes, that might be acceptable to me.

 

Otherwise, no. And honestly, I can think of too many ways that politics could get involved in this to disadvantage certain themes. For example, what if a vocal person on the board wants all books with interracial couples to be rated for age 10 and up? Then some libraries and many parents might decide not to get a perfectly reasonable book like The Hello, Goodbye Window for their collection because "there must be SOME reason it has such a high age rating!" So I don't trust that we'll have a non-biased, non-partisan group making these decisions.

(Or take away that issue and sub in LGBT characters, disability, discussion of racism, magic, fart jokes....)

Edited by Tanaqui
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Actually wouldn't mind a heads up sometimes. I read a book with a child torture scene that won't ever leave my brain. I must be one of the few with a stronger imagination than film.

 

You could always read reviews first, or search google with something like "what age for [title]".

 

I don't think it's an imagination issue. I think it's a sensitivity issue.

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I'd like it!  

 

I tend to pull books off the shelf for my kids thinking that I remember the entire story line.  I've been surprised more than once.  A simple sticker in the corner labeled "cultural slurs" or "contains scenes that may concern rape survivors" might help me do a better job of remembering.

 

Yes, I know I could research every book, but I don't.  

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You could always read reviews first, or search google with something like "what age for [title]".

 

I don't think it's an imagination issue. I think it's a sensitivity issue.

It's hard to find information without spoilers if that makes sense. For me, I'm really only sensitive if it's a graphic death of a child. Torture gets to me, but not as much. Any other things I mentally skip over.

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As an adult, no, I do not need such warnings.

 

MPAA ratings are GUIDELINES created by the movie industry. There is no board or outside association that dictates what a rating should be. Recently, I heard that movies with PG-13 ratings now have more violence than in years past. Not surprising to me.

 

Guidelines for adults in what is appropriate for children is still up to parental discretion. R movies are fine if a parent accompanies the minor.

 

With all that, HELLZ To THE NO do I feel adults need ratings or warnings as to what is appropriate for them to read. That's what a good book review is for.

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Fanfiction has had this conversation for years. There's no clear answers here.

 

Yes, you can use a system roughly analogous to MPAA, with all its pitfalls. You can do a general rating and then tag certain themes (violence, death, etc.) like Archive Of Our Own has tried. You can try to stick certain stories in certain places (different webpage, with password) and hope that's enough. Everything has pros and cons.

 

I would like a general rating like MPAA - my kid likes graphic novels and some of the teen ones are appropriate for kids and some are NOT. So I would like to have a quick label to weed through them at the library. I wouldn't follow the rating slavishly, of course, but it would make my life easier. I also wouldn't trust everything with a "G" rating to match my values. But as a quick heads up - sure.

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Fanfiction has had this conversation for years. There's no clear answers here.

 

Yes, you can use a system roughly analogous to MPAA, with all its pitfalls. You can do a general rating and then tag certain themes (violence, death, etc.) like Archive Of Our Own has tried. You can try to stick certain stories in certain places (different webpage, with password) and hope that's enough. Everything has pros and cons.

 

I would like a general rating like MPAA - my kid likes graphic novels and some of the teen ones are appropriate for kids and some are NOT. So I would like to have a quick label to weed through them at the library. I wouldn't follow the rating slavishly, of course, but it would make my life easier. I also wouldn't trust everything with a "G" rating to match my values. But as a quick heads up - sure.

Still arbitrary. Your G is someone else's PG-13 is someone else's "why is this rated as E?"

 

I'm sorry, but in a library you are still a parent. That means you decide what is acceptable for your family. Barnes and Nobles do not police what kids buy, libraries do not police what kids read. As a parent, you can decide what your child may check out. While in their possession, you may decide what they read. But your decision is not the primo facto decision of all parents. What you are looking for are guidelines or book lists from sources that you,trust and/or resonant with your views. I'm sure a good public librarian can assist with that, if given a proper amount of time.

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I think I worded this wrong. This is more for books for ME. Maybe not a movie rating system but something where I could quickly and accurately know if the book contained explicit scenes, language, triggering situations, etc.

 

I am not trying to ban anyone from reading anything but I would rather personally avoid such things in my own reading.

 

The best I have now is I try to read the 2 & 3 star reviews on Amazon as often this is where people mention such things. I also appreciate author notes alerting you to content of their books

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One of my pet peeves about movie ratings is that they don't really give you trigger warnings. So, a movie could be rating PG-13 (or R) for bad language or w/e, and then suddenly have a bunch of suicide stuff in it, which is not cool if you've got issues with that. I've had that happen with multiple movies (don't recall titles).

 

Common Sense Media is great for that, if you don't mind spoilers.  

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I think I worded this wrong. This is more for books for ME. Maybe not a movie rating system but something where I could quickly and accurately know if the book contained explicit scenes, language, triggering situations, etc.

 

I am not trying to ban anyone from reading anything but I would rather personally avoid such things in my own reading.

 

The best I have now is I try to read the 2 & 3 star reviews on Amazon as often this is where people mention such things. I also appreciate author notes alerting you to content of their books

My suggestion is don't read adult books, in general. Most of what you are trying to avoid is contained there.

 

YA will be questionable but children's should be ok.

 

I still think you need to seek out good book reviews- New York Times, Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal and School Library Jounal- you may have to ask your librarian about LJ and SLJ..

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Ottakee, I agree with you.   Not so much a "rating" system but a way to find out about certain types of content in books.

 

Someone upthread said that sort of thing is easy to find.  I haven't found it so.  Detailed reviews can help, sometimes. A line in a review like "contains explicit violence against women" or "contains explicit sex" would be helpful.  I know "explicit" means different things to different people but it would be a start.

 

A while back I got a book from the library that people had raved about.  I was actually interested in it for my son but wanted to preview it.  Turns out it had quite explicit sex, and a lot of it.  And not nice loving sex between two people in love... far from it.  I was stunned.  It was sickening to me, so callous and violent, and nothing to do with the story.  There had been nothing in the book descriptions about it, none of the people who had recommended the book mentioned it, even when I said I was interested in it for my teen son.

 

One thing that sometimes helps is doing a search inside the book on Amazon.  Not all books have that feature.  I type in certain words and if they come up, see how they are used in context.  It doesn't always help, but sometimes I've found objectionable material that way.

 

Several years ago I was reading a really interesting book on the ancient Greek navy.  Suddenly there was this description of sexual practices.  I'd been previewing it for my kid, who was in middle school then - the book was in the adult section of the library, but everything else had been perfectly fine for him.  I was so annoyed, I wrote to the author and asked him why he'd felt the need to include that.  He said something about how important sex was to the culture (like it's not important to every culture?), and suggested I black out the offending lines in the book before giving it to my kid.  I was kinda stunned by that response.  I just took the book back to the library. 

 

 

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One of my pet peeves about movie ratings is that they don't really give you trigger warnings. So, a movie could be rating PG-13 (or R) for bad language or w/e, and then suddenly have a bunch of suicide stuff in it, which is not cool if you've got issues with that. I've had that happen with multiple movies (don't recall titles).

This website http://www.kids-in-mind.com breaks down the movies in a very detailed manner.

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I think I worded this wrong. This is more for books for ME. Maybe not a movie rating system but something where I could quickly and accurately know if the book contained explicit scenes, language, triggering situations, etc.

 

I am not trying to ban anyone from reading anything but I would rather personally avoid such things in my own reading.

 

The best I have now is I try to read the 2 & 3 star reviews on Amazon as often this is where people mention such things. I also appreciate author notes alerting you to content of their books

This us exactly how I took your OP. The two paragraphs describing a book often don't mention explicitness or language that I may find to be a problem for myself. Occasionally I can find that information on Goodreads or an Amazon review but that's rare.
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Not really, but I do get super irritated when I'm browsing kindle books to buy and there is straight up porn versions of erotica listed in the literature best sellers.   Or when I search for something innocent and find that crap. Ugh.  I sometimes report them, but mostly I just get irritated and go to the library or an actual bookstore instead.

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It's hard to find information without spoilers if that makes sense. For me, I'm really only sensitive if it's a graphic death of a child. Torture gets to me, but not as much. Any other things I mentally skip over.

 

But if the ratings are going to have that much detail (graphic death of a child, torture, etc, vs just a generic "violence"), then you're heading into spoiler territory. You really can't know what needs a trigger warning - it's different for different people.

 

This website http://www.kids-in-mind.com breaks down the movies in a very detailed manner.

 

Thing is, movies already have ratings. So, if ratings worked, then there wouldn't be a need for that.

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But if the ratings are going to have that much detail (graphic death of a child, torture, etc, vs just a generic "violence"), then you're heading into spoiler territory. You really can't know what needs a trigger warning - it's different for different people.

 

 

Thing is, movies already have ratings. So, if ratings worked, then there wouldn't be a need for that.

I'm honestly just musing about the way that a few things bother me. I understand what you are saying, but my point is that for some people reading can be more "real" than movies. When I read I become that person, when I watch a movie, I have very few emotional attachments.

 

While I wouldn't want a rating system, I would probably skim a type of review that simply said whether there was a graphic rape or torture scene. Sometimes I do skim Amazon reviews, but that doesn't always work.

 

It's not a big deal, it's just a differing viewpoint from saying reading graphic things isn't a trigger. I do get that will be different for everyone.

Edited by Outdoorsy Type
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What I hate is when in a series that's been perfectly fine up until this point, the author suddenly throws in controversial plot content to a later book. Rick Riordan in the Percy Jackson series comes to mind. Or the Montmoray Journals by Michelle Cooper where the 3rd book in the trilogy contains an abortion plotline as well as a menage a trois.

 

If you're going to include controversial content in a middle grade or YA series, it needs to be in it from the very first book so that parents/readers don't get lulled into a false sense of security about the content.

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What I hate is when in a series that's been perfectly fine up until this point, the author suddenly throws in controversial plot content to a later book. Rick Riordan in the Percy Jackson series comes to mind. Or the Montmoray Journals by Michelle Cooper where the 3rd book in the trilogy contains an abortion plotline as well as a menage a trois.

 

If you're going to include controversial content in a middle grade or YA series, it needs to be in it from the very first book so that parents/readers don't get lulled into a false sense of security about the content.

 

This reminds me... there was an author my daughter loved when she was about 9.  She read all her books - all taken from the juvenile section of the library.  Then a new one came out, also in juvenile, but it was so full of profanity and adult-type situations that she could not read it.  It wasn't part of a series but the author had been so reliable.  It really upset her and she could never like that author again.

 

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What is controversial about that series? I'm trying to think of it, and can't. I have read/listened to the books.

 

In one of the later books of the 2nd series a character is revealed to be gay. There's nothing explicit but the series is aimed at middle grade readers so I believe that the plotline is age-inappropriate. If it were a YA series, I wouldn't have had an issue with it.

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In one of the later books of the 2nd series a character is revealed to be gay. There's nothing explicit but the series is aimed at middle grade readers so I believe that the plotline is age-inappropriate. If it were a YA series, I wouldn't have had an issue with it.

 

And, you just proved why we don't need ratings. Because a book having a warning about someone coming out as gay in it would be offensive.

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Crimsonwife's comments are exactly why I'm not totally onboard with ratings. If they were limited to the very few things we can ALL agree on, sure. But then there's always going to be somebody else. (And that does go both ways. If I were putting on the ratings, the Little House books would get a Teen rating for their explicit racist language and imagery. And then I'd have to change my name and move, because the fangirls would never forgive me.)

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No, I wouldn't want this.

 

For simple things like language and adult scenes, I just figure that's part of adult literature. If someone really couldn't handle any at all then I suppose they could read only from religious authors that they know won't include that or read reviews ahead of time.

 

For more specific things that would need trigger warnings, that would be spoilers. I do not want to know if something like that is in the book. I don't like to know much about a book going in other than genre. If someone is sensitive to particular things, then they should probably look for reviews or discussions on the book ahead of time. Yes there may be spoilers, but if you want to know every kind of possibly sensitive situation that might arise, you're asking for spoilers. If it's not a spoiler because it's the key plot (I can think of some fitting this by Jodi Picoult) then that info is readily available from the back of the book. 

 

 

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For kids, young adult, and adults: I would like to have availble some kind of description of content, not necessarily a "warning" or rating like a movie has.

 

Kind of like the parents advisory or whatever it's called on IMDB for movies. It doesn't "judge" but it might say a character dies by gunshot but death is offscreen, or full nudity, simulated $ex, drug use, etc.

 

One of my girls loves to read, and has always read books far faster than I could preview them. On her own (not due to any rules or whatever from us) she realized she doesn't mind if a book has $ex in it, but her thoughts are that she's OK with knowing that the characters did something, but she really doesn't want to read a full page description of how they did it, KWIM? And she really hated getting far into a book or series and then being surprised by it. Same with murder or violence... she doesn't want or need long graphic descriptions of it. It she also doesnt want to just read baby books and American Girl series. She'd just like to know what to expect to help her decide if it's worth her precious time or not.

 

Edited for typos

Edited by Rebel Yell
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For kids, young adult, and adults: I would like to have a liable some kind of description of content, not necessarily a "warning" or rating like a movie has.

 

Kind of like the parents advisory or whatever it's called on IMDB for movies. It doesn't "judge" but it might say a character dies by gunshot but death is offscreen, or full nudity, simulated $ex, drug use, etc.

 

 

 

Yes, this!  There have been times when I've had to set aside a book, not because I'm a prude who can't handle a few brief sex scenes but because it was vividly described male rape or some other thing that *I* don't need to read in such detail.  If other people have no filter at all, yay and don't use it.  But I think it would be good to know if a book has 8 graphic scenes of sex and sexual violence vs. 2-3 brief mentions of intimacy between 2 consenting adults.  Then I can use other people's opinions on how good the writing/plot are to decide if I'll give it a try anyway or just not bother.

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I think I worded this wrong. This is more for books for ME. Maybe not a movie rating system but something where I could quickly and accurately know if the book contained explicit scenes, language, triggering situations, etc.

 

I am not trying to ban anyone from reading anything but I would rather personally avoid such things in my own reading.

 

The best I have now is I try to read the 2 & 3 star reviews on Amazon as often this is where people mention such things. I also appreciate author notes alerting you to content of their books

 

 

I understood exactly what you mean and I have wished something like this existed. I do not think it should be like the movies where it is age restricted, but I would like to see trigger warnings. I am not a fan of reading the F word every other word. I would like to see some sort of label that people can disregard if they so choose. For example, if I'm reading a very serious book or a book with a war plot, I'd expect language, and would probably disregard the warning. If I were reading a chick lit book, I would choose one that did not have the F word strewn carelessly throughout. And yes, honestly, I hate reading an otherwise good book, and then coming across a very explicit scene that I would have preferred to have been warned about. But, as evidenced here, what can be come up with that everyone is going to agree with? 

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<snip>

 

Kind of like the parents advisory or whatever it's called on IMDB for movies. It doesn't "judge" but it might say a character dies by gunshot but death is offscreen, or full nudity, simulated $ex, drug use, etc.

 

<snip>

 

Yes, this is what I was thinking of but didn't remember the name of it.   Not a rating per se, and nothing to restrict people from getting the book from a store or library.   But an advisory of what is in it.

 

Most fiction doesn't need explicit, detailed sex or violence to move the plot along and develop characters.  I've read good crime novels that have bare descriptions of the crime, but they are great stories. Others seem to revel in prurient detail, particularly of sex crimes.   Obviously if people want to read it, that's fine and I wouldn't restrict it.  (No one here is talking about restricting anything.)   But yeah, I would like to know about it.  

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I find it so much harder with Kindle books and audiobooks. With paper books I can usually flip to 2/3-3/4 of the way in the story and glance at a few pages and see quickly of it looks like a lot of explicit scenes or language, etc. You just can't do that with Kindle or audiobooks.

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And, you just proved why we don't need ratings. Because a book having a warning about someone coming out as gay in it would be offensive.

 

I never called for a warning label, just said that authors who decide to include controversial content in a series should include it in the first book rather than surprising readers/parents in a later book. Homosexuality *IS* controversial even if certain groups wish it were not so.

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I never called for a warning label, just said that authors who decide to include controversial content in a series should include it in the first book rather than surprising readers/parents in a later book. Homosexuality *IS* controversial even if certain groups wish it were not so.

The character was 6-7 years older. He was growing up, things change.
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Adult books are not the issue. It's YA and children's books that are.

See for me, it is the adult books that are an issue too. I just want to avoid those with explicit scenes and excessive language.

 

I appreciate the authors that put a short note at the end of their book descriptions on Amazon that note this. Then I just avoid the book.

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I find it so much harder with Kindle books and audiobooks. With paper books I can usually flip to 2/3-3/4 of the way in the story and glance at a few pages and see quickly of it looks like a lot of explicit scenes or language, etc. You just can't do that with Kindle or audiobooks.

No, but Amazon does offer a return option for "obscene content" or something like that on Kindle books.

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