Assigning grades to most things is silly. I’ll be the first to admit that. If you’ve read the review, does it add anything to slap a letter on at the end? Letter grades imply that my tastes are more objective than is actually possible, that my preferences are systematically created and universal. Moreover, letter grades encourage weird comparisons; my cousin Kyle was aghast that his favorite movie received a worse grade than Flax Plus Pumpkin Raisin Crunch.
So why do letter grades at all? First, because I think they’re funny. I like the serious formality of the academic grades juxtaposed with my snap judgments. Secondly, I feel people respond to grades on some visceral level. I can say a book is terrible, but I think you’ll feel it more if I write that the book gets an “F.” Whoo! Chills.
That’s enough ado. Here’s what my grades mean.
A = Top of its class. Transcends its particular genre. A cowboy movie that received an A, for example, would have to appeal to those who ordinarily hate cowboy movies. A Chinse restaurant that got an A would make you forsake all other Chinese restaurants. “A”s make the world feel special. I don’t give “A+”s because that would be redundant, but an “A-” is something that is nearly perfect but for a few minor flaws.
B= A good example of (fill in blank). “B”s are the most common grade I give out, since the world is thus far pretty B-worthy. “B”s shouldn’t be the stigma they were for wannabe valedictorians. A grade of a B means the thing in question is worth your time and deserves checking out. It just won’t explode your brain into a hundred pieces.
C= In contrast to A, a grade of a C means the thing fits into its genre, but no more. An action movie that gets a C could still be enjoyable to those who love action movies, but it’s unlikely to win any converts. “C”s tend to be unremarkable rather than offensive.
D= And now things are starting to stink. A D means that I think that the thing in question mostly sucks. It may have some redeeming value, but in general it’s not worth the time/effort/money that it requires.
F= Do not approach. A miserable failure, an utter waste. I won’t give an F-, because failing is failing. An F+ means that there is only one tiny component that keeps it from being a complete disaster.
And I don’t change grades, except perhaps in mega-extreme circumstances, such as a nuclear strike.