Let’s Talk Bookish: Content Ratings

So, this week’s topic was supposed to be “Do your animals ever destroy your books?” which is a topic that I can’t contribute much to, since I’ve been exclusively Kindle since before any of my animals were born, and I protected my books in cloth book covers for the entirety of the previous animals’ tenure here at Casa Me.

With that in mind, I went through the archives looking for a topic, and I was very pleased to find this question from Dani in July:


Movies, television, video games and most other forms of media have content ratings…but not books. Why do you think it is that books have no rating system to determine what is and isn’t appropriate? Should there be books that are kept out of the hands of children? Is it the responsibility of parents or should there be a standard book rating system to deem what’s appropriate?

This is a sticky topic, because I don’t think that books should be kept from anyone, regardless of age. I do think that there are books with very mature themes that should be read by children with parents handy, to answer questions that come up, or to discuss situations that are raised.

However, I do acknowledge that in order for parents to do their job, they will need to know the content of the book, and will probably want to know that without actually reading it. I don’t have kids, but I know a bunch of parents, and there are pretty few of them that have the time or inclination to read all their kids’ books ahead of time.

I also know that there are a ton of adult-aged readers out there who don’t want to read books that are full of violence or sex. And I know that I have read a ton of book reviews on Goodreads that express disappointment when they get halfway into a book and then the killing spree happens, or, you know, the orgy, and they feel…betrayed?

So. Yes. Content ratings good, as long as they are merely guidelines, and don’t keep anyone from buying anything.

There is another reason that I picked this topic, and that is that I am adding content ratings to the book reviews I do here at fifty-two. I read a lot of books that would be rated R for violence or NC-17 for sexual situations, and I would like to avoid disappointing any readers who pick up a book on my recommendation only to claw their eyes out halfway through.

As I alluded to, I’m using the standard movie rating system. It’s easy, and we all know what the letters mean at this point. I’ll go back and rate the books from the last couple of months as I have a minute.

Finally, confession time: Yes, I read PLENTY of books that were too old for me. Some I snuck from my parent’s bookshelves and some I snuck from the Librarian’s office at the high school. And while it felt illicit at the time, and I knew I’d be in trouble with a capital T if I got caught, I don’t think those books did me any harm. I still remember them fondly, actually, as they gave me my first glimpse into what life would be like as a grown up. They gave me something to aspire to, if that makes sense. Although, hiding in the garage reading Dan Jenkins’ Semi-Tough did NOT make me want to own a professional football team. Go figure.

The Let’s Talk Bookish meme is hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion.

4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Content Ratings

  1. I remember sneaking my mums romance books and bodice rippers when I was a teen. I like to think that it did me no harm.
    I think content warnings rather than age ratings on a book would be more useful as not only do teens mature at such different rates but it helps all potential buyers and readers make an informed decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like all of the various sub-genres of romance stories with the notable exception of of anything “clean”, I really dislike “clean”, I want it to be dirty. So if the story was rated according to its sexual content I would rather just have the NC-17 ones and some of the R ones and skip the rest


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