On Ratings

At times, it’s a real struggle for me to come up with a star rating for a book I read. A rating of one to five stars feels incredibly limited – I like to have halves in there for when I’m really torn. But a scale of ten seems too broad – would a seven really be that different from an eight to anyone outside your own head? Yet, other times, my feelings just don’t equate to the numeric scale that has become so popular when rating books (or movies, or probably, anything these days) and I’m left feeling frustrated. How else can I convey a basic summary of my overall feelings on books?

My dislike for the star/number system is why I stopped using them on my blog. I feel that readers can get the gist of whether or not I would recommend a book by reading my actual reviews. I don’t think that the star value is really worthwhile if I can voice why I liked or disliked the book within my review and tell you whether I would recommend it to others or not.

My other issue with star ratings is that some people take them too seriously. I’ve come across reviewers that have criticized fellow readers for giving out “too many” four and five star reviews. Granted, I’m sure there are times when a book’s ratings might be unfairly flooded with a high (or low) rating, in order to help sales or blindly support an author, regardless of the actual quality of a book. Yet, I’m inclined to think most people rate a book with the amount of stars they feel it deserves.

Who am I to say that someone enjoys too many of the books they read? Or that people should read more critically. I love reading in part because it offers so many different things to so many different people. Yes, some people do read more critically than others, and some read for knowledge and some for pleasure, and some to escape and some to experience new things. Why should someone be made to feel poorly for how a particular book made them feel?

I have a feeling, if I looked back at a year’s worth of book ratings (sorry, I’m too lazy to actually do this), many of the books I read would be four or five stars. I’m not “going easy” on books for any reason – I’ve been reading for pleasure for over fifteen years and I’m confident in my own tastes. When I read a blurb for a book that I think I’ll like – more often than not, I do greatly enjoy the book! Why shouldn’t I give it a four or five-star review? For me, reading is magic – an escape and an adventure and a way to keep my imagination alive. I don’t read very critically, nor do I look for the hidden meanings and morals of books (you pretty much have to slap me across the face with them for me to pick them up, and even then, I still might miss them!)

Of course, there are times when I misjudge a book, believing it will be awesome and then finding it miserable. There are also times when I look at a book with a zillion five-star reviews, and then look down at my own two-star review and wonder where things went wrong. But these situations don’t happen all that often.

I just think if you’re out to review books with a more keen and critical eye, that’s excellent for you. But don’t hate on those of us who generally get a lot of enjoyment out of the majority of the books we read. I’m fine if you’re a “harsh” reviewer, so let me be easy going! As much as I enjoy sharing my opinion and discussing books, at the end of the day, I’m reading for myself, not anyone else.

            So, tell me your thoughts on ratings! Does the star system work for you? Do you think people need to be more discerning with high ratings?

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4 thoughts on “On Ratings

  1. I think I’m similar to you in the sense that I tend to enjoy the majority of books I read because I’ve picked them out myself. I don’t analyse every book I read – I’m reading it solely because I love to immerse myself in a story and if I enjoy it then surely that’s good enough. I like the idea of rating systems but sometimes a number just can’t convey what a few sentences expressing a feeling about a book can.

  2. I don’t mind the star rating but I see what you mean. Sometimes it is hard for me to express how I feel about a book in the star rating. I’m pretty easy going so the majority of my ratings are 3 stars. I tend to give books 4 and 5 stars if I really enjoyed reading them, sometimes even if they’re not written very well, because I read to be entertained. I give a 1 star if I hated it and 2 if I can’t decide if I hate it or not.

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