Rating books is such a difficult thing to do. More difficult than the review, often. Unless you know it is one of your all time favorites and will be getting five stars, it seems there is always room for debate. I have read lots of posts about how a blogger’s ratings can change over time, and I completely agree. A book I read three years ago would likely get a very different rating today, just based on the sheer number of books I have read. Sure, other things come into play too, like evolving tastes, being more critical after writing so many reviews, and just having read even better books along the way. But that isn’t my problem today. No, my problem is in the actual five stars. I am sorry, but I am going to need a sixth. No, I can’t? But… you don’t understand. Five. Isn’t. Enough.
Basically, heres is my tale of five-star woe: Last week, I was trying to rate The Young Elites by Marie Lu. It was an okay book. I ended up giving it three stars. But. I think it deserved more, probably more like 3.5. However, I thought of some books I had given the 3.5 rating to, and I did not like it as much as those. It left me in a conundrum. If I had say, six stars, then it would work out nicely. Sure, I could do a ten star system, but then I would have to convert it every time I wanted to post to Goodreads, Amazon, even sites like Netgalley or Edelweiss. And I don’t have time for that, since it would just bring me back to my initial problem.
Why do I put so much thought into it? Well, simply put, the numbers kind of matter! We all like to think they don’t, that the content of our reviews are more significant, and to some readers that is certainly true. But I will fully admit that when I am going to purchase a book, I look at the rating. I look at the numbers. I may read a few reviews from trusted bloggers if applicable, but numbers do mean something when I am going to read a book. Be honest: Are you picking up some book with a Goodreads average of 1.8 out of hundreds of reviews? Nope. So I feel this obligation to be as fair as possible when leaving that star rating, never rating too low as to steer someone away unnecessarily, but also never inflating to give readers a false impression. It is such a fine line, and I am tormented by my lack of wiggle room.
Okay, maybe this is a bit over the top…
How I rate basically comes down to this: Gut feelings + Comparison = Stars. I do know that they are definitely arbitrary, but I do hold some stock in them.
Now do kindly share: How do you assign ratings? Do you pay attention to them? And do you stress over them like I do?