Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Books Should Have Ratings

I was flipping through the Netflix instant movie selection the other day, looking for something interesting to watch. I enjoy a good suspense, action, romance, or comedy as much as the next person. But there is definitely one requirement that is non-negotiable--the movie's rating.

I decided long ago that I would not watch anything rated R. It is a personal choice, mostly religious based. It's a way to keep foul language and questionable sex scenes or blood and guts out of my life. Plus, there are plenty of other great movies out there that are less violent and sexy and foul, so why waste my time watching smut?

I work for a publishing company, and one thing we don't tolerate is smut. As we explain to our authors, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to write swear words. And as readers are going along, they tend to focus on the swear words or sex scenes and not the plot or characters. Sort of defeats the purpose, wouldn't you say?

I recently got a Kindle Fire, and while browsing what ebook I could read next, I was overwhelmed with the volume of choices. I finally settled on a book recommended by a friend. Thankfully, it was free of swearing and sex scenes. I could focus on the story itself rather than bring smut into my life.

Now I'm browsing for something else to read. As I swipe down the list of choices, I look at book covers and read summaries. Some "smut" is easy to spot right away, especially if there is a half-naked woman on the cover. Something like that is perhaps something I wouldn't appreciate. Sultry romance novels, no thanks.

Reading the book's summary, sometimes I'll see a swear word or see something about how the main character is a cheater -- again, it is easy to see that this book is something I wouldn't enjoy reading.

But other books are harder to decipher. How do I know just by looking at the cover and the description that it's as clean as I'd like it to be?

That's why I propose books have a rating system. Something like movies would be ideal in my mind. If I knew a book was rated R, I would simply avoid it. There are plenty of other great books out there to read, so I wouldn't waste my time reading smut (well, starting to read it and then putting it down or deleting it) and get to the good stuff.


  1. I agree!! People have told me "this book is so good except for this one part." Just like movies, right? And people cheating on others, no matter how much in love they are, is just wrong.

  2. That's an interesting problem. With a regular book at the library, I would always just flip through the book and look for swear words, but with an ebook, you can't do that.