So I made an executive decision when I started writing book reviews that I was not going to rate books on any rating scale. I had several reasons for this, that I’d like to discuss below.
I’d love to hear your thoughts/opinions about this in the comments!
So some of you might have noticed, that unlike most reviewers I don’t leave ratings on books. This is intentional and not just me forgetting about them. The only time I will leave a rating for a book is if I have to, like on NetGalley or Goodreads.
I try to keep my reviews as objective as possible, and while on the surface the rating system is meant to be objective I find that it is anything but. I find that most reviewers use their rating scale to say whether or not they liked a book, and not whether or not the book is well written, written for the intended audience, and tells the story the author intended to tell. I personally don’t think whether or not I liked a book should influence whether or not someone else decides to read it.
For example, people love “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black, it obviously has a large following. Personally I got halfway through, put it down and never picked it back up again. Why? Because I see enough trauma and pain in my day job that I didn’t want to read about it when I got home. It’s a great book, it just wasn’t for me. And that’s okay! I would never suggest that someone else shouldn’t read it because I didn’t like it.
That isn’t to say that ratings are inherently bad, or that the book blogs I follow use them inappropriately. The greatest misuse I’ve seen is on goodreads, where reviewers seem to delight in trash talking books.
When I do have to give ratings this is how I rate:
5 Stars– book is well written and is written for the marketed audience. The book had well rounded characters and consistent themes throughout. I plan to reread this book or would read the sequel.
3 Stars– The writing in this book was average and the story was inconsistent or contained plot holes. The author did not have a clearly defined audience. The characters were flat and one dimensional.
1 Star– This book has incorrect information that is damaging or hurtful. This book contains racist, sexist or otherwise inappropriate content that should have been removed before publishing. I would not recommend this book.
With the above rating system, basically every book I review is a 5. And I think that’s okay.
I have my prescription pad graphic that I use to summarize the book: who I think would like it, content warnings and my final recommendations. If readers are intrigued they can read my entire post. Therefore, I do not think I need a rating score to summarize my thoughts, as they are right there at the top of the page.
The way most book reviewers rate books is fine; however, I have read too many reviews lately, (mainly of YA books) that trash good books because the reviewer wasn’t in the target audience for that book. I think that reviews like that are unfair to readers who are in the target demographic and might love the book, but due to low ratings might never pick it up.
So what do you think? Do you like the star rating system? Have you seen reviews on Goodreads (or anywhere really) that abused the rating system? Leave your thought below!
7 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Rate the Books I Review”
This is a great post! I always felt the issue was less with the rating system and more with people who use it unjustly. In the end of the day, the rating system is a personal rating for me and not necessarily an indicator of the quality of the book. I have a lot of ‘bad quality’ books with high ratings and supposedly great books that I simply haven’t liked and so I score them lower. The written review is where I really express my thoughts and break down what was good or bad about it. Still I do agree that people misuse the system, especially in YA. one of my pet peeves is when people rate a book one star before having even read it, solely because they don’t like the author or the synopsis or for whatever reason. That’s just sad and really does ruin the book for other people who might actually enjoy them. Again, wonderful post and great point of discussion! Sorry for the super long comment lol
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That is a great point! And obviously even in my system, there is some subjectivity. I think either way is fine, as long as you’re not misusing the system! I’ve just seen too many examples of the misuse on Goodreads, and I’m starting to get mad. And never worry that your comments are too long!
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I agree that rating system is over rated. I don’t like rating either and though I do it on goodreads I don’t do it my blog. I just highlight what i liked and disliked. liking a book is a personal choice and no two person likes the same thing. besides i somehow find it odd to rate books on any scale unless I feel it really wasn’t good and then a one star is understandable or so good that not even stars can make it justice. so yeah.. thanks for talking about it. i did a similar post earlier..
Oh cool I’ll have to check your post out! I wish the rating system were simpler, because since everyone has a different personal scale I feel like the average score at the top of a books goodreads page is essentially meaningless. Maybe if it were “Recommend”/”Don’t Recommend” or Thumbs up/ Thumbs down, that would make it easier for readers to make some sense out of the rating system.
Haha yeah I totally agree..I used to do that.. My initial reviews were thumbs up/down. That particular post is covered under kaffeinated conversations 😃 I realized I am giving a lot of two stars yet the books aren’t that bad either.. It’s a tricky thing for sure 😯😃
Interesting discussion! Goodreads rating system is something that really annoys me as well, especially when people start rating a book well before its release.
For me, my rating of a book is something I put a lot of thought into, almost as much as the review itself and I give a full five star rating to only a very select handful of books each year. On the other hand, since I’m very careful with which books I read, I rarely end up with ratings lower than a 3.5 – and if I do for some reason, I simply don’t review them because I wouldn’t be able to write a balanced review.
I don’t use ratings either in my reviews, and only post them on Goodreads and occasionally Amazon. Mostly for the reasons you said: reviewing books is completely subjective, and I want to be fair to every book I read. Perhaps I didn’t enjoy it, but I’m certain somebody else might, so even if I hated a book, I always point out what was positive about it as well as what was negative.
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