on rating books.

Most people are familiar with the standard way to rate books- 5 is the best book ever, 1 is not even worth looking at. I don’t know how or where or when this system was developed, but it’s been driving me a little crazy lately.

When I rate books, my mind doesn’t really categorize them into five groups. For example, in my mind there are low and high 4s, and just because I give a book a 5 doesn’t mean it’s on my list of The Best Books Ever. The way I rate books also varies depending on how long ago I read the book. Right after I read a book my mind is usually whirling and swirling with random thoughts about it. The rating I give it then will most likely be very different from the rating I give it when I’ve had some time to organize my thoughts and really think about what I read.

Now, I’m not saying that the 5-star system isn’t useful, because I believe that in some cases it is. Let’s say you want to quickly know whether people think a book is AWFUL or FANTASTIC- then the 5-star system is probably pretty useful. But what I don’t like about it is that it doesn’t tell you why people feel that way. Did they love it because of the writing? The characters? The pace of the plot? Or was it a more personal reason that wouldn’t necessarily directly relate to you? If you’re someone who takes the reviews and opinions of others into consideration before decided to read a book, then these things can be very important. And the 5-star system simply isn’t complex enough to encompass all of those components.

So what I’m trying to say is this: if I rate a book 3 out of 5 smileys, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t read it. On the other hand, if I give a book a perfect rating, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll love it just as much as I did. To me, the most important part of a book review is the justification for the rating itself. Without the words, all that’s left is a number out of 5- and where’s the fun in that?

What’s your opinion on the 5-star system of rating books? Let me know in the comments section below!



5 responses to “on rating books.”

  1. I agree with you on this. Usually for my ratings, I rate out of 10, just to give me more room to work with, but in the end it’s just as much of a general outline rather than 10 being the best book I’ve ever read. I feel that ratings reflect just the individual reader’s opinion on the book and yes, that doesn’t mean that everyone else will love it. It does however, give people a general idea of what to expect of the book and might spark interest in checking it out themselves. Besides, isn’t personal ratings why we’re on this site in the first place? xx


  2. I don’t ever give ratings on my blog… just on Goodreads. It’s been a process for myself actually to rate books, which actually has been good for me. I used to only have two ratings, one star or five star. Now I’ve learned to branch out and realize that just because I like a book doesn’t mean it’s a five star and just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean it’s a one star. 🙂


  3. I completely agree with you Holly the number rating system is useless if we don’t read the words behind it because everyone has different reading tastes. Lets say for a moment that I adore cliches and am obsessed with vampires, I might then give a high rating to a book that contains those things but others who don’t like neither vampires or cliches would give a different rating. Ratings are skewed to fit our personal tastes and readers should always remember that. Great post Holly! 🙂


  4. I agree that ratings are really subjective. Like you said, they do a good job of granting huge distinctions, such as the difference between a horrid book and a beautiful one. But I feel like every rating should be qualified with a review or some explanation of why person chose to rate it the way they did – I’ve read 4 star reviews from one person that had the same level of praise as 3 star reviews from another. In the end, I think it’s the words and the thoughts and the opinions that matter, not just the number. Great post!


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