From the Archives Friday: Animal Farm

I’m trying out a new feature. I’ve noticed a lot of times when I go to “compare books” with a person on Goodreads, I’ll be scrolling down the list of books with their respective ratings and think to myself, “Did I really give five stars to that??” or “Wouldn’t give that one four stars today.” Still, I remain reluctant to re-rate them. So, I’ve decided to bring them back out, go over what I remember about the books, how I felt about them at the time, and how I feel about them now to see if I can reassess their rating.



Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Fiction / dystopia


Original rating: 4 / 5

I read this book when I was 16, in the summer before my junior year AP English class. I put it off until like two days before school started because I dislike being made to do things on my breaks, even if I like those things.

What I remember about the book: I remember there’s a pig named Napoleon and he’s kind of bossy. It’s short. There’s some mind tricks or something and then the pigs are acting all high and mighty and controlling but pretending they’re all still equal. The whole thing is an allegory, like, for Russians or communism or something.

How I felt about it at the time: I honestly don’t remember. That was 13 years ago. This is the first book I ever rated on Goodreads, and at the time I rated it, it had been about 4 years since I read it. My feelings were probably a mix of resentment at having to read it, relief that it was only 140 pages, and enjoyment of actually reading it (I do love reading). I do seem to remember it being tedious in parts, though.

How I feel about it now: Almost nothing. I don’t remember the discussion in class. When I look at it, I basically just think the buzzwords about it: classic – political allegory – clever. I can’t say if my rating is reflective more of my own reading experience or if it’s influenced by those ideas.

Verdict: I think I’m going to have to re-read this one. If someone asked me if I liked Animal Farm today, I would likely say, “Yeah, I liked it,” which corresponds to 3 stars on the Goodreads rating system. I very much doubt I would say, “I really liked it,” because my feelings just don’t have enough oomph one way or the other on this book. There’s also the fact that I used to over-inflate my ratings–every book would start with 5 stars in my mind and then have them taken away for things. It’s pretty much the opposite of the way I rate now, where every star has to be earned. (Also, stars are definitely not the best way to review a book, but I do love the simplicity of their shorthand, so I try to have them make sense.) Based on these factors, I think I’m going to update my rating to 3 out of 5, pending a reread. I am mildly enthusiastic about the reread, which is probably a good sign.

Original rating: 4 / 5
Updated rating: 3 / 5

One thought on “From the Archives Friday: Animal Farm

  1. This is a great idea. I have a shelf on Goodreads called ‘would probably rate differently now’ for this exact reason – those books where I look at my rating and go ‘wait, what?’ but don’t necessarily feel motivated enough to commit to rereading them.

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