Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Defining My Rating System

I've always struggled with rating books, mainly because the universally-used five-star scale can differ among everyone. Marking a book as "one star" is easily understood as terrible (and marking a book as "five stars" is easily understood as amazing), but when things fall in the middle ... it tends to be unclear. Before I started blogging, I believed giving a book three stars was mean. But now, giving a book three stars means I thought it was all right. (If I see a book rated between 3 and 3.5 on Goodreads, however, I will hesitate to add it to my "to read" list. But that's another story for a different day.)

One-star and two-star ratings are the easiest for me to describe. It's clearly divided in my mind, and I don't think I have (or will) ever rate a book 1.5 or 2.5 stars. It gets a little more tricky between 3 and 4.5. There's a difference between 3.5 and 4 in my mind, but the reason I'd choose 3.5 over 4 (and vice versa) really depends on the specific book.

To make things a bit clearer, I've briefly described what each rating means to me below. That way when you're reading one of my reviews and you see a 3 or 3.5 star (or pineapple, in this case) rating, you know exactly what it means. The description may not always be 100% accurate, but that's the beauty of a review! It explains how I made that decision in more detail :)


This was a terrible book and I hope to never speak or hear of it again. I had a bad experience and felt forced to finish it. I would only recommend for you to stay away!

Examples: On the Road by Jack Kerouac


It wasn't entirely awful but I didn't enjoy it that much. It seemed promising but I was disappointed, probably due to a mixture of bad writing, dull dialogue, plot holes and lack of exciting events. It did not meet my expectations, and I would not recommend it to anyone.

Example: Looking for Alaska by John Green, Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo


There wasn't anything that stood out to me, it was just okay. If I borrowed this book from the library, I would probably refrain from adding it to my collection.

Examples: The Maze Runner by James Dasher


This book was good, but there's something missing. It may also have taken me a while to get into.

Examples: Paper Towns by John Green


I liked it, but there may have been some things influencing the direction of the story that bothered me. I would still consider re-reading it.

Examples: The Giver by Lois Lowry


I generally loved it! There were one or two SMALL flaws, but it was easily overlooked.

Examples: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Everything about this book was beautiful — the writing, the characters, the plot. I loved it deeply and can see myself re-reading over and over again.  It was probably something I finished in one sitting or at two in the morning. I own this book and would HIGHLY recommend it!

Examples: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

So there you have it! I'd love to know if you feel the same way as I do, or if it's completely different! Do you struggle with rating a book, especially if it was "just okay" to you? Are you afraid to give a book one star? How would you define a 3.5 or 4.5 star rating?

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