Book bloggers, generally speaking, have quite a bit in common. It’s why we get along so famously. We love books, as you’d assume. We fangirl. Sometimes we have no words to describe how good a book is, and sometimes we can’t shut up about a book. And a lot of times, we get annoyed with ratings in general.
Let’s face it, there are a lot of gripes one can find when summing an entire novel up in one of only five numbers. For example:
- One person’s 3 stars is another person’s 4.5. This is hard to navigate unless you know the reviewer personally. Some people are more lenient, some people are harsher, and that’s why the actual words of the review are so important.
- It’s easy for random people to throw up completely arbitrary numbers. I assume there aren’t a ton of people who are willing to sit down and write a plethora of fake book reviews to pad numbers. I do assume that there are quite a few people who would click a button, either to pad or detract from the overall rating.
- Rating is hard. Seriously, how do you even decide? I have posted about whether you use your head or your heart, whether your mood affects the whole rating thing, if I am too easy of a rater, and the fact that I simply cannot handle a five-star system. So clearly, this has caused me concern in the past.
- An author’s mom, best friend, dog walker, mailman, server at the Olive Garden, and whoever else can give a book glowing ratings (and reviews)- especially before anyone unbiased has had a chance to decide if they like it. This absolutely can skew ratings, especially early ratings. How can we really trust a rating- positive or negative- when we don’t know the motive behind them?
- We become a bit reliant on them. Be honest: what do you do when you see a book on your TBR that has a 3.08 rating? If you’re like me, you cringe, and then second guess wanting to read it. The reverse is also true: If I see a book that I had no interest in suddenly popping up with a 4.8 rating, well, consider me curious! This isn’t a deciding factor, of course, but it does have influence.
So that said, I have heard a lot of people talking about wanting to do away with the ratings in general, and just post the reviews. To be honest, it sounded appealing to me too. I love when people do a simpler system, like Cynthia @ Bingeing on Books who uses the “Buy, Borrow, Skip” system. Still gets the point across, but without struggling over the actual number.
But there ARE reasons to rate numerically too.
- Wouldn’t I still have to give a Goodreads and/or Amazon rating too? They don’t care if I would buy it or borrow it. And Amazon makes you give a number. So even if on the blog there’s not a number system, everywhere else would need to have one. Which means I’d still be pulling my hair out over stars, so why not just do it from the start?
- I’m broke. I assume a lot of you don’t have all the money to buy books either, right? We wish we did, but alas, I presume that none of us won the PowerBall, or you sure as hell wouldn’t be sitting around reading my blog. So we really have no choice to be picky about what we buy. I have no shame admitting that I have been in the bookstore, grabbed my phone, and checked a book out on Goodreads before spending
mysomeone else’s hard earned money.
- They mean something, whether we like it or not. Yes, this is the same basic idea as in the “con” section- we become reliant on them during our bookish decision process. That said, we need some way to pare down our TBR. Maybe you were kind of interested in a book, but then… holy one stars, Batman! Maybe you aren’t as interested anymore. Maybe even makes you realize that you were never that interested to begin with.
- It’s kind of part of the process, no? When I decided to review books, I kind of assumed that rating comes with reviewing. They’re buddies. No one wants a peanut butter sandwich without the jelly, right? (If you do, shhh that’s weird, peanut butter is too sticky alone.) I find that if I read a review without some semblance of rating (be in numerical, a word, etc.) that I come away without a solid idea of the bottom line. I like a bottom line. I NEED a bottom line. I don’t really want to play translator or philosopher or some other nonsense to figure out whether someone liked a book, basically. Just a quick yes or no will do.
- It’s a really good way to flail (or curse) about a book. What feels better than slapping that five-star rating on your new favorite book? Or honestly, as vindicated as being done and just giving the hellish book a one star?
- Real ratings can help to override nonsensical or padded ones. I hate people who rate books before they even exist. Someone should probably slap those people- especially when the author pops in to be like “yeah, I haven’t even written this yet”. Like no, stop that.
Giving your actual review based on oh, I don’t know, having read the damn thing makes that weird random stuff mean less.
So. Let’s talk! A few questions, and a poll!
1.Do you use numerical ratings on your blog? If not, do you use another system?
2. Do star ratings mean much to you?
3. How honest and/or trustworthy do you find ratings in general to be- not just from bloggers, but from the general public?
I rely on ratings a lot. Okay, let me rephrase that: I rely on reviews mostly whether to add a book to my TBR and whether to bump it up, but at the last moment I always check Goodreads to see the general consensus. And I think it’s been a long time since I bought a book with average rating below 3.5 OR with more than a couple 2-star reviews from bloggers I know. I do like the buy/borrow/skip method, though! And GAH WHY to rating books before they even exist! The worst thing is when the book now has 1 star and there’s no way to change it until ARCs or something? Just why?!? But on the whole I think ratings are honest, just that they are inevitably an arbitrary system.
Totally agree with you! And YES- when someone rates in a one star before it is even a thing, the poor author just has to sit there looking at the one star, knowing they didn’t do a thing to deserve it, and basically take the high road and not respond, which must be SO frustrating!
And I am with you- if some of the reviewers I trust tell me “NO, Shannon, you will HATE this book”… then I am probably passing too!
Ughhh this is actually a fantastic discussion post, Shannon! I do prefer having numerical ratings, though I see why some people prefer other systems. I do dislike the fact that numerical ratings have such a strong effect on my decision on whether or not I even want to read a book.
Aw thank you, dear!! I feel you- it’s hard to separate them when you actually think about wanting to read a book- but they also save you from some really bad books! It’s a struggle for sure!
I do like my ratings. I think it’s the science-y part of my brain coming into play so I like numbers for everything (I relied a lot on numbers when studying Biology). I will look at Goodreads occasionally to see how books have been rated if it’s an older book, but I don’t do this for arcs. I really don’t understand why people rate books long before they are released – I mean what’s the point, they could end up hating it for all they know.
Oh, I totally agree with you- WHY do people rate books that they don’t know anything about? I mean, giving a book 5 stars before you have read it just sounds like jinxing yourself, and rating a book one star for no actual reason just seems evil! I do agree, I like to have a numerical breakdown too- because there’s usually a big difference between say, a one and a two star book! Thanks so much 😀
I use 5 stars rating system on my blog. I don’t think rating influencing my choice of books, since I usually read by mood and summary. Actually, I enjoy reading 1 star ratings on goodreads, because well, sometimes they’re entertaining! I know, I’m a bad person. But the point is as much as I use numbers as my rating system, I don’t actually care about them. But I also like creative rating system like buy/borrow/skip thing. It’s cute and creative! 🙂
I never read summaries, which is probably part of my problem, honestly! I like to go in as blind as possible, so it’s hard to judge. And girl, you are NOT alone- one star reviews are SO entertaining! You can like, see the rage in the reviewer’s eyes bwhahaha. I like the creative ones too. I go back and forth, because it could be quite fun, but then I also worry that I would NEED the numbers in my life 😉
I use a five stars rating on my blog but I don’t actually use it to decide if I want to buy it/borrow it/skip it, my deciding factors would be the the cover+title+the summary, I don’t care if they are 1 star books or 5 star books (’cause I don’t usually see it beforehand). But I do use ratings to express my feelings towards those books, although it would be nice to have half a star rating.
Half stars are SO necessary! I need them in my life, and I don’t understand why we can’t have them on other sites like Goodreads or Amazon. Sometimes they make a big difference! I do admit that if a book has a LOT of bad reviews from trusted reviewers, I am much more likely to pass on it- and vice versa for 5 stars.
Omg I hate hate HAAAAATE when there are star ratings on books that aren’t published for years yet. like ARC ratings obviously are fine. But there are ratings for The Raven King up on goodreads and it’s not getting ARCs. So you know something is up. *glares at goodreads* And I saw ratings for a 2017 book the other day and DANGIT why do people like to ruin things? Grr.
Back to the topic at hand.
I LOVE RATINGS <3 I agree they're tricky little beasts. And everyone's versions are a little different, which is confusing? But I need them to give me the overall opinion.
YES! Exactly, yes, so much yes! I was looking at this book that is coming out in 2018, and it has FOUR ratings- a one star, a five star, and two 3 stars. What even!?
And yes, I know what you mean, they ARE all different. But like, with reviewers who I know well, I feel like I know what their ratings mean to me, if that makes sense? Like, when I read your reviews, and then see your rating, it means something to me. I know where you stand, and I feel like I know where you stand in comparison to me. But like, random reviewer? Not a freaking clue.
I like ratings, but wish there was a sliding scale. Sometimes the rating is between 2 or 3, or 3 or 4, etc. I also weigh the ratings of particular people more than that of the masses. I follow certain bloggers and readers for a reason — we seem to be like-minded in our reading tastes. I don’t tend to check reviews until AFTER I read a book (I like to see if I agree or disagree), but the rating may help me select my next read or one-click. I also look at it for what it is – someone’s opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion (I just wish some people were a little less harsh in how they presented it)
YES! Which is why I am a HUGE fan of half stars (clocks) even though they are a bear to make 😉 I am the same way- I weigh certain trusted reviewers/bloggers more than others for sure! I don;t read reviews until after I read the book too, UNLESS I wasn’t planning on reading the book or was super on the fence and needed to know a few things. And like you, I always open reviews of books I am planning on reading- just to see what the rating is! Then later, I will go back and check it out!
I love the star system – only if half stars are allowed 🙂 I use it to help me sum up my feelings of a book if that makes sense. I do like when there is some sort of system (love Cynthia’s too!) because if there isn’t sometimes it really isn’t clear. Which I know it should be by the actual review and what not but sometimes it isn’t. I do hear what you are saying with the cons though. And I never understood why books on goodreads had ratings when they weren’t you know finished. So annoying!! But overall yeah I like numerical ratings 🙂
YESS half stars can make ALL the difference! Why can’t Goodreads and Amazon and such just get some damn half stars? It isn’t hard!
And you are so right- sometimes it isn’t clear by the review- or at least, not clear ENOUGH. And sometimes I like to just briefly check out someone’s rating before reading the book myself and then go back to the review when I am done. And I can’t do that if they don’t give me anything to work with 😉
There are two things I hate about false ratings, one being the people who seem to get over excited and fling stars left right and centre. It’s like they’re planning a baby’s life before they’ve even met it, sheesh. But the other is when the author’s rate their own book five stars . . . like, what are you doing? That’s just a bit fat no Mr. I Want A Higher Rating. Grr. That being said I don’t think I’d survive without a star ratings, it’s like some weird OCD catharsis to rate all your read books and then look at them and smile lovingly at your 5-starers . . . I just try not to let the stars sway my decision too much as to whether I read it (although sometimes low ratings but a good sounding blurb make me all determined, like WATCH me love this book!).
BWHAHAH I LOVE that example!! So much yes! You cannot love a book you haven’t read, it cannot be a thing!
And I SO agree- I need the stars! I need to have some kind of scale by which to place books in an order, and to see how my reading has been going! I also try not to get TOO worked up about them, but if I do see a book with a SUPER low rating, I am going to be wary for sure!
My biggest frustration with the numerical ratings is that everyone uses them differently. For some people, anything below 3.5 stars is BAD NO OH GOD DON’T TOUCH THAT, but I follow the Goodreads system, and only the 1 star rating represents “I don’t like it.” It’s a little unbalanced, but it makes sense to me, and trying to keep track of what star rating means what for who gets really confusing.
So I always read the review if I am intrigued by the book, but I wouldn’t want to go without the numbers either. They’re really good, like you mentioned, for calibrating for my own interest.
Yes, yes that is so true! The Goodreads system doesn’t exactly work for me because I need a “wow I hated this deplorable piece of rubbish” number 😉 But after that, I think I fall in line pretty well. Two is an “I didn’t like it more than I liked it”, and a 3 is “I liked it more than I didn’t” (2.5, of course, being completely apathetic hahah) So I am totally with you- a 3.5 means it was pretty good! I have had people comment, saying “Aw, so sorry you didn’t like this” for a 3 star review where I DID list quite a few positives. So who even knows?
I couldn’t go without the numbers either 😉
I can kind of see why the “deplorable rubbish” number doesn’t exist (love over hate, positivity over negativity seems to be a theme) so I just dump evertyhing I didn’t like into the 1-star. Or DNF it, and let it rot a little in its own unrated corner.
For me, those differentiations are fascinating as well, because the 2 stars “it’s okay” translates to me less as “dislike” (which “didn’t like isn’t properly synonymous to, but made me think of it) and more as apathy. For me, it’s a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of particular interest, a very thorough “meh.”
And I can’t help but wonder how thoroughly people read reviews in the case you mentioned–and if they read the review thoroughly, to what degree the number influences their perspective and understanding of that review.
Yes, I think a two star for me is kind of “dislike but with some redeeming qualities”. And one star is a mess hah. I imagine that some people JUST look at the number, but they’re doing themselves a disservice.
Personally, I base my opinion on “to-read-or-not-to-read” and “to-buy-or-not-to-buy” on both the review and the rating combined. The reason being that it’s like you said: every reviewer is different. Some people will list lots of negatives but end up rating the book 4-stars. Other will only point out what they liked, but rate the book 3-stars. Unless they’re your best blogger friends you have no way of knowing. So to me, the rating helps me figure out how they felt, when combined with review. I definitely think that the review is more important than the rating but I like having both all the same^^ GREAT post!
I agree, the combination system IS the best way to go. I would probably lean toward the review being more important too, but only by a little 🙂 Thanks so much!
I’m the type of person to HATE ratings. Ok, not hate them, but it’s just that I don’t pay attention to them much, because I’m trying to READ THE REVIEW. Sometimes, I don’t even know what the blogger rated the book, but I still comment anyways because I want to comment on their review, not their rating. Isn’t that why we starting blogging in the first place? Also, I feel like for my reviews, 3 and 4 star reviews vary so much on a book to book basis. Just recently, I reviewed Walk On Earth A Stranger, and I gave it 4 stars. But in my review I listed out more flaws than I usually do for other 4 star books, so what gives? Ratings just end up being a gut feeling for me, and there has never been a good way for me to actually come up with a rigid rating system. It’s just all….relative….to everything.
DYING. DEAD. This is the best name in EVER. Walk on Earth a Stranger gets extra stars because it makes you want to play The Oregon Trail.
I use a star rating, 1-5. But I also have 3.5 stars in that rating, because sometimes the book isn’t quite good enough for me to say it’s 4stars, and not bad enough to be 3stars. (There’s also DNF in my rating, but I don’t use it as often unless it was so bad I HAD to review how far I got. Mostly I just don’t review if I DNF.)
I totally look at the average number of stars on GoodReads for a lot of books. Especially if it is one I’ve only just heard about, but might have been out a while. The higher the rating, the more likely I am to want to read it (if the description had looked interesting to me in the first place), and the lower the rating, the less likely I will be to read it. Unless it’s an author or series I already read.
I’m also more likely to trust the opinions of blog friends on books. If I wanted to read a book, but more than one friend has hated it, I’ll either borrow it from the library or not read it at all. Same for the other way, if my friends rave about how good it is, it moves up on my TBR or gets added if it wasn’t already there.
And yes, it drives me batty to see books that aren’t anywhere near ARC status with ratings already! Yes, I get it. You love the author/series. But the book doesn’t exist yet, so don’t rate it until you’ve read it!
3.5 stars is somehow the most important of the half stars! I don’t know why, but it is TRUE!
And I agree about the Goodreads thing- especially for older books, just like you said. Because by that point, the “fluff” ratings are pretty much overpowered by the legitimate ones, and there are enough ratings to make it actually mean something!
YES to the trusted blogger friends. That is my most trusted source, honestly. And UGH if the book doesn’t exist, you cannot rate it! Just NO! Hahah
What a great post! I have thought about this topic several times and eventually came up with a system that works for me, but I do agree that a numerical ratinh system never will be perfect. On the one hand those nummers and averages on goodreads do influence us and on the other hand they also mean so little.
I do use a numerical rating system on my blog as there are ratigns everywhere and I think it’s handy for those who want a quick glimpse of what I thought of that book. Tha rating is usually right beneath my summary of my review, so hopefully people who won’t read the whole review do check the rating and summary and still get a feel for what I thought of the book and why.
On other blogs I usually look at the star rating first to get that general feel of what the reviewer thought and then read the review. It’s like I want to get in the mindset of how much the reviewer liked the book. I do think that ratings have a place and can be handy, but I do think you need to check the rating and the review to get the whole picture. The rating itself doens’t tell much as even two 3 star books can be very different and I can like them for different reasons and like you pointed out everyone has a different system. So you need to know the reviewer to know what the ratign means.
Then again it’s still a difference if someone gives a book a 2 or 5 star rating, so I still think they provide a bit of information. But the review is more important as that explains why a book did and didn’t work and when reading a review that can influence if I want to read a book or not. Some people can give a 4 or 5 star rating and I can still be doubtfull if the book is for me while a 3star review can convince me to pick up the book.
I also don’t think there is one right way to handle ratings. I don’t mind when people don’t rate, although I usually do prefer to see a rating and will look for them. That blogger you mentioned with the buy, borrow and skip rating sounds neat too. A game platform where I buy games only allows two ratings would you recommend it or not basically, so your review is either negative or positive, which might be a bit too simple, but often that is where it comes down too. Then again what one person hates or dislikes in a book or game can be something someone else loves, so even that isn’t flawless. Sorry for the logn comment! I think it’s such an interesting topic and I always like hearing how others think about it.
Aww thank you! I just looked at one of your reviews, and you do it the same way I do, I think it’s the best way too (obviously 😉 ) because like you said, they can read a very short version (which I like to do when I want to read a book and don’t want to know TOO much, but DO want to know what the reviewer thought) and then the star rating. I guess I do it because that is how I like reviews on other people’s blogs to be, as a reader? Who knows!
And yes, you DO need to know the reviewer, I absolutely agree. Because I know that some of my blogger friends are just a bit easier or harsher than others, but I know what a 3 star means to them versus what it means to someone else. I assume it’s kind of hard for first time visitors and such though!
I agree that the game ratings are too simple- because there IS a middle of the road that needs to be addressed. And you are so right, there are books I have hated with a fiery passion that other people LOOOOVED, and vice versa!
And I love long comments, so you’re good 😀 I am glad you enjoyed the topic, that makes me happy! It is such a tricky thing, rating!
I used to not use a number system pretty much for the same reasons you’ve listed here. I didn’t really like it and I thought if someone saw the rating they’ll automatically have ideas about what my review is. Personally, though, a numerical value of a rating gives me a little intro to what this person particularly feels about the book whether it be good or bad. It kind of gives me a heads up and I like that. It also helps if I go on GR and I see over 1 million people in consensus gave a book a four out of five. I care a lot more about the review than the number, to be honest. Because someone might give a book I love a lot a three because they didn’t like something I completely adored. People are different right?
I think in the general public I’m always a bit iffy. There are people that I trust to get reviews from. If that sounds weird. This is less so with books than it is with movies for instance. There are people I know that have the same tastes as me so when we talk and they go, “oh you’ll like this movie” I’m in a pretty good place to know. I’m broke too most of the time lol! Most of my books right now are either through Kindle’s killer $1.99 sales or from my library’s ebook app. I’ll probably limit myself to one book per paycheck if even that. So I really want to know if there’s a high chance of me liking a book or not.
I agree completely, and I LOVE the way you said it! It is like an intro- and then you can delve further into it,but it’s kind of a baseline.
And nope, I am the same exact way as you- I have people who I trust, and it sure isn’t the random public 😉 Because you are so right, people ARE different, so it stands to reason that the chances of someone I have never interacted with before may not have the same book tastes as I do. That’s not to say I won’t take the review into account, but I wouldn’t let it decide anything either- whereas there ARE trusted bloggers and reviewers who absolutely could talk me into or out of a book!
I am kinda in the middle with this one! I like the rating system as a baseline, but I think that is has to have something to go along with it. Something like, “I liked it, but I didn’t love it,” or “I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t hate it.” I use a point (I guess you could call it star) rating system, along with phrases to help distinguish what the rating means. I find that I can give two books the same rating, but think different things about them. That’s why I really like putting a phrase or sentence with the rating. Also, for people who don’t want to read the review, they can see the rating and read the sentence to get an idea of how I felt about the book. Great post! 🙂
I hate ratings when I’m struggling to decide what to rate, but I adore them when I need to find a book, or when a rating is easy. I just keep with a system of 1 = HATED, 2 = too many things annoyed me, 3 = eh, alright, 4 = I LOVED IT, but this one little thing nagged at me 5 = OMG I CAN’T CONTAIN MYSELF
The big thing about the ratings is like you said, when you post on GoodReads, Amazon and Indigo (if you’re from Canada) you’re forced to pick a star rating in any case. And it does seem to help people in choosing a book. And if you’re if someone really wants to read a book, high or low rating, they’re still going to do it!
It’s so true- ratings likely only influence the people who are on the fence about the book to begin with. And I feel the same as you- I hate rating them myself, but I love reading them ?
Like most, I have a love/hate thang with ratings. But I don’t see myself ever *not* using a rating system. Obviously the numbers are totally subjective but I think you get to know a person’s rating system/style over time (assuming it’s not some random stranger’s rating you’re looking at). I am horrifically stingy with 5 star ratings. I don’t hand them out all willy nilly every time I like a book a lot. Noooo. It has to be a book that I not only loved, but was also so moving, so impactful, that I feel like the book now owns a little piece of my soul. (A wee bit dramatic, are we Tanya?) I’ve always used a standard 1 thru 5 rating system on my personal spreadsheet (aka The Holy Grail of Books where I keep track of every book I read, the dates, and so much other info that it’s embarrassing to admit how geeky I truly am). It’s only been in the last year that I’ve “allowed” myself to use .5 and even .25 (gasp!) ratings on my personal listing. It was a shock to my order-loving, OCD nature but I had to remind myself that it’s my damn list and I can make my own rules. (A revelation!) GoodReads insistence on not allowing .5 ratings kind of kills my soul but I’m managing to carry on somehow.
P.S. I would totally still be here reading your blog even if I won the Powerball. *big cheesy grin*
Well I love you for still reading my blog after you get rich ? And I probably am too set in my ways to abandon the number ratings too, whether it’s a good thing or not.
I am the opposite of you though, probably too lenient with my 5 stars, but I am stingy with adding to my favorites shelf!
I love ratings! I wish there were half-stars on Goodreads, or maybe 10 stars, but even without them I still think they’re great. They’re often inaccurate and unreliable, yes, but honestly they’re the first thing I look at when I see someone’s review. I’m a fan of numbers, what can I say? 🙂
Someday, Goodreads will hear our pleas for half stars haha.And I confess that they’re the first things I look at too ?
I am pro-stars. Like you said, we have to do them anyway on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m probably more on the lenient side with my own ratings, but other times I look back and think I might have been too harsh. I try to think of stars like letter grades. 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, etc.
My only gripe about numbers is when people deduct stars, but then don’t explain why they took them off. I actually wrote a post about this when I started blogging. Here’s the link: Why Less Than 5 Stars? It goes along with why I don’t like positive-only reviews.
That’s exactly it, since I have to figure out a star rating anyway, might as well just do it from the start! I love your grade rating idea! That’s a really great way to think about it.
I have to read your post, because I totally agree with you! Even if I deduct just for a feeling that was missing, I say so!
I have been struggling with numerical ratings lately. I love being able to sum up my reviews in one number, but they also seem so limited. I feel like a full-blown written review is the best way to get the gist of whether or not to read a novel, not just a number. Just a single number can never be as informative as a couple hundred words describing a book. Sometimes, I feel like I am such a harsh star-rater, and other times I feel like I am being too lenient with my stars. I know that my star rating system mostly changes with the book/genre/author and is dependent on how I feel about the novel. But in the end, I think that they are convenient as a bottom line, like you said.
I struggle with them a lot too. Sometimes I think I am being too harsh or too lenient, but then maybe that in itself says something about the book? I don’t know haha. But I agree that a combination is the best plan!
I VOTED loathe, but honestly I’m more in the middle. Like you said, Amazon makes you pick a start so if I ever cross-post (shh I’m bad at it) then I have to pick a star rating anyway. Plus, I’m keeping track of all my books read this year on Goodreads and I find myself wanting to give them stars there. But at the same time, I don’t feel it’s a necessary thing. I’d much rather read a full review to get an idea of the book than to simply trust a star rating, like how much a book is rated on Goodreads. I don’t use stars in my actual book reviews on the blog unless I think it will help get my point across more…usually to say it’s not bad, like a 3, or it’s amazing, omg a total 5. That kind of thing. 🙂
I feel you- before I had UBB, cross posting almost never happened. Now I just set it up to auto post, so that’s cheating haha. And I think that’s the best use of the ratings too- just to get the point across.
I do a number system and rating do mean something to me as I pick books based on their Goodreads rating or how many loves it has on Edelweiss. I generally don’t read anything under a 4.0 unless it’s a “literary” book that people gave a low rating because they didn’t get it.
Goodreads is notorious for padding the rating and I look at the five star reviews to determine if it’s a real review or a friend/publisher.
The padded ratings drive me batty. Especially when reading an ARC without a lot of reviews, I wonder why I am rating something so low, and then I realize it’s all fellow author and friend reviews.
I use a star rating system, same as the Goodreads one. And I do care for other bloggers rating always. It helps me to decide whether to grab one or give it a Go or push it down my TBR list. There are many bloggers, with whom I can match my tastes in books. So I always depend on their ratings and numbers makes it too easy for me ^_^
I agree, when bloggers who have similar tastes rate a book a certain way, it absolutely influences me! Others I know to take with a grain of salt ☺
I’m definitely guilty of basing 80% of my decisions on goodreads (average) ratings & reviews because I don’t want to risk wasting money on something I really won’t enjoy. And I don’t even post reviews on goodreads that often but the fact that I can still rate books is very nice. (Although I hate how random people will rate books that haven’t been published….because that confuses me! I rarely preorder but when I do, I’m all nervous like WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE THE BOOK?!!..and those skewed ratings do not help!).
And like you said, rating is really hard. I used to do 3 stars for books I feel “neutral” about..but then I ended up dnfing a bunch of books and I gave them 3 stars because I felt like they weren’t bad enough for 2 (or 2.5?) stars but the books really weren’t for me (and maybe someone else would enjoy them). So it all got extra-complicated…But I still use star (or numerical) ratings on my blog because like you said, it helps me keep track of books I truly enjoyed, didn’t enjoy so much, etc. etc. I guess ratings just reflect the general public and even if relatives of the author are giving good ratings/reviews, it doesn’t have to mean that they didn’t genuinely enjoy the book. After all, books are meant to be enjoyed by everyone.
When I DNF a book, it gets a one star on Goodreads ? basically because I have to reaalllly hate it to DNF, so I wish the book on no one haha. But I like that you take into account that it could very well work for others!
I suppose I review with numbers, since I use the rating report that breaks everything down. I do think all ratings are subjective, but once you get familiar with a blogger or reviewer, you know their tastes, likes, and dislikes, so you can go from there. It’s hard to pick a book based on Amazon and Goodreads overall ratings. I for one, have ran into a situation when an author was looking for more 4-5 stars on amazon to a specific reason and wanted me to change my rating. lol anyway, great topic!
I agree with you completely! Getting to really know how the person rates is key- because no one’s star ratings are exactly alike of course.
And WOW- I cannot believe someone wanted you to change your rating, that is AWFUL. I have actually heard a story about a decently well-known author who has admitted that he downvotes anything lower than a 4 on Amazon. Like what even!?
Interesting discussion. I don’t use star or numerical ratings on my blog, and I don’t look at the star ratings on Goodreads before I buy a book. If a book sounds interesting, I read it. The ratings mean different things to different people, so it’s hard for me to trust them.
It IS hard to trust them, I agree! I am quite impressed really that you’re able to have faith and buy the book! It’s probably more fun that way, honestly 😀
Such an awesome post Shannon. Lately, I’ve been having trouble with my ratings. I almost don’t want to use a rating system and just tell whether I liked it or not! Giving 5 stars is easy because clearly I loved it and want everyone to read it. And giving 1-2 stars is easy because obviously I didn’t. But those 3-4 stars are tricky. I really like what Danielle over at Love at First Page said about ratings the other day in a review: “these three star reviews are so pesky, because I think readers (including myself) automatically associate them with negativity. That’s really not the case for me! Three stars is a generally positive rating, but it can also mean a lot of different things. It’s a book that’s good but not special. It’s a book that I’m glad I read but probably won’t re-read. It’s a book that did not meet the high expectations I set for it, despite being an overall enjoyable read. ”
I definitely agree with her so I’m going to try and use that more as a basis for my ratings. Would I reread?
As for getting books based off others’ ratings, it’s definitely tricky. Because you’re right. Everyone rates differently. I think that’s where the reviews come in. I can tell a bit better what I would think of a book based on what they liked/didn’t like. I am also a little wary of bloggers that are super buddy buddy with an author, because I feel like bias comes in whether they admit it or not.
Ultimately, I’m not sure if I love ratings or loathe them. I don’t always take ratings for what they are- I usually need to check out some reviews first.
Aww, thanks 😀 And I agree SO. MUCH. The 3-4 stars are EVIL. And YES I saw that review of Danielle’s and it is so accurate! I once had someone tell me that they were sorry a book didn’t work out- and it was a 3 star! I had listed a lot of positives! Granted, there were definitely negatives, but not even almost enough to be considered a “bad” book. Just not my favorite. Middle of the road. (Actually, slightly better, even.)
I feel you with the bias. The bias has to be a thing, right? Even if it is unconcious, it’s got to be there. I feel like I couldn’t review books of someone I was close with. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone- me, the author, OR the readers. I am friends with an author, and while I genuinely DO love her writing, I didn’t review her book like an actual book review, because it isn’t fair. And if I hadn’t liked it, I wouldn’t have listed it as ANY star rating, because that seems evil hahah. Which is why it is so tricky- how do you give someone you genuinely like a bad review? I don’t think you can, without SOME hard feelings involved.
And I think checking out reviews and ratings in combination is absolutely the best plan!
GREEATT POST! I like me some ratings- star or numerical, but I NEED REASONS BEHIND THOSE RATINGS! I can’t just trust a number. Like with statistics in general, you have to know more than just the number. Who gave it that number, when did they give that number…etc. Numbers can be skewed. So I need my reasons as to WHY I should or shouldn’t read a book. I wrote a post about this a few days ago xD I criticized the system of judging a book based ONLY on it’s numerical or star value.
Aw thank you! And I agree, I DO want to know why it’s a certain rating, but I also need the rating, I don’t know why hahah.
I have to go read your post! I touched on the topic briefly on my post about not being an asshole or something along those lines (I honestly don’t remember what I called it and am too lazy to look bwhaha) but I felt like it needed its own topic, because it is SO true that numbers can be skewed by people who are not playing fair!
So when I started blogging, I didn’t use stars but I felt like it was really hard to tell what I felt about a book without it — especially since the stars/numbers are universal if you use GR. Of course they don’t have half stars on GR but you get the gist…
I agree that stars aren’t perfect and a rating is so subjective but, for now, it’s the best way to convey overall feelings about a book IMO
Great post as always!!
Aw thanks so much! I absolutely agree with you! They definitely aren’t perfect, but they’re necessary for me, and a lot of other people too! I mean, they can convey the overall thoughts in ONE character as opposed to five paragraphs, and we DO need that!
I use the numerical system, and I prefer it since as you said, it is the standard on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. I also like having this idea of how a person feels about a book, in one brief glance, and numbers do that better for me than some statement. Like, you said you liked it, but if you rated it a three, then that means it wasn’t absolutely spectacular either. There’s a whole lot of subjectivity to ratings, and I find that even more so with words, and while buy, borrow, skip is a good idea, I’d want a really nuanced review explaining why the book is worthy of a skip, unlike a 1 star review, which is a pretty universal meaning.
I agree with you, I NEED to know what someone is thinking at a glance, especially if I don’t want to read a review because I want to go into the book blind. And that is actually a really good point about the skip. I know when Cynthia does them, she tells us WHY she’d skip it, and basically, how strongly she would skip it hahah.
Ha! I love this post! Because of GoodReads and Amazon and B&N and any other official rating site (except Edelweiss), I use star ratings. I usually rate my books immediately after reading them and “try” not to change them when I write my review. I am not harsh when rating books but I try to be fair. I also have a section in my review where I have word ratings. So, I have the best of both worlds 🙂
But yes, it is tough. Which is why I read the review to see if it really is my cup of tea. I also tend to read the lower reviews first before the higher rated ones.
Aw thanks! And yes, that is exactly why I started using ratings to begin with, since you don’t have a choice on Amazon (such silliness!) I like the word ratings sections too, I contemplated doing one myself, but then I figured that since I have trouble choosing ONE number, choosing a bunch would be even harder 😉
I don’t use numerical ratings on my blog. I never did, even from the beginning. I’m not sure why. But now I don’t like the idea of it. I do, of course, rate on Goodreads and Amazon because you must. Even then it’s hard to decide what to select. Star ratings don’t mean too terribly much to me, because we know hype exists and we also know there are those people close to authors (or, heaven help them, the author himself) who fluff up those numbers.
SO true about the number fluffing. Drives me insane! And you are right, you definitely have to take them with a grain of salt! I feel like if I had never started using ratings,I wouldn’t be now, but since I started rating on Goodreads before blogging, I assume I will never stop hahha
Like you, I sometimes find numerical ratings really hard to come up with – but I do still like them. I want a bottom-line, something that sums it all up, and a numerical rating does that.
Yep! I NEED a bottom line of some kind. I don’t care how it’s done, just tell me if the book is worthy, basically!
Nope, don’t use numerical rates on my blog just a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down. However, when I cross post to Amazon, GoodReads and Barnes & Noble and I do have to rate. The cool thing, if you hover over the stars image tags show up to tell you what each rating means. I take those to heart when rating on other sites.
And the rating do mean something different on each site, So one one site you might see a higher star rating on one site than another for my reviews.
The thumbs up and thumbs down works for me too! I am not a huge fan of the rating systems on Goodreads and Amazon (especially the latter), they just seem incredibly inflated. I do, however almost exclusively round up half stars on those sites. I figure it isn’t the book’s fault that there aren’t half stars ?
I use a 5 star rating system, but it is more for myself than other people. I know that everyone likes different things and so when I am reading other people’s blogs, I generally don’t even pay any attention to the rating they give it, but rather what they actually thought about it. I think that people rely to heavily on what number someone might give a book, but everyone has different levels of harshness, so I think it is irrelevant. Thanks for the great post! 🙂
Aw thanks! I do agree that people’s systems are vastly different. It’s hard to judge if you don’t know the blogger/reviewer. But I do find them useful from bloggers I know, or at the very least, as a general indicator.
This is such a great post! I don’t use a number system on my blog. I really only do that on Goodreads or other sites that have the rating systems on there. I just wish that there were half stars on Goodreads. Because sometimes, like you mentioned, a 3 is too low, but a 4 is too high. I usually aim for higher, I figure there’s no reason to be mean. These days if I don’t like a book I pretty much end up DNFing it, so then I won’t rate it at all because I didn’t finish it. Great post! Thanks so much for bringing this topic up!
Aww thanks so much! I do the same thing – always round up when there are no half stars. I have only DNFed a few books, and I gave two ratings, but I had read a lot of it so I need to get my feelings out ?
but RATING IS HARD. Some people seriously don’t understand. While reading, I change my rating multiple times before finally getting to the review. (Is this a five-star? No four-star? Wait, three star? Wait…too harsh. Three-and a half.)
Btw, is that “I will cut you with word” GIF, Rihanna? lmao.
I take reviews very seriously, especially the negatives. I used to not. I once read a horribly negative review about a book I’d been dying for and I wanted it, still. Then, I brought it & the book was absolutely UGH. The review was right. But usually if it’s a book I’m dying for, though, I’ll try my best to ignore it. Great, truthful post!
It IS hard! I change my ratings several times too it seems- especially with the middle of the road books!
Ah, the gif is Aneesa from The Challenge ?
And sadly, you’re right, most of the time, they’re pretty much on point, with some exceptions of course. I am often afraid to look if it’s a highly anticipated book!
Ratings are hard
That “You can’t trust the system” gif is on point.
Omg, yes! I have also been in a bookstore to look up a book’s rating on GR before buying!
I hate seeing books I’m excited for have an average rating of 3.00 or even 3.67 (WHY AREN’T YOU AT 4.0?), it always makes me second guess. Sigh.
I like peanut butter without jelly! Sometimes. If there is no jelly. . .
Ugh, people who rate books before they even read them are annoying. Gosh. Like stop it people, I don’t care how excited for the book you are, stop it.
Questions! And they’re NUMBERED.
1. I do!
2. They do!
3. I find them real sketchy if the book hasn’t come out yet. 😉 Otherwise I guess I think they’re pretty okay? Let’s be real, I find some *coughs*bloggers*coughs*and such sketchier than that.
While ratings are important to me, I think the review’s content is more important to me. Sure, give a book I love three stars, but make sure to tell me why so I can understand. A three star rating isn’t bad, but it depends on the reasoning for it since, like you said, a person’s 3 star could be my 4.5 star.
Ohh I agree, some bloggers are guilty of inflated ratings too! And yes, explaining is key. Don’t just basically tell me the plot and then slap a random number on it! ?
I’m not really a fan of rating systems, but at the same time, I still think they’re useful. But they are misleading if in the wrong hands.
I absolutely agree! Especially since anyone can make any number of accounts and just throw ratings all over the place!
I’m super honest with my ratings and reviews. To be honest, I rarely look at the reviews of others – but mostly because I’ve usually already read what they’re currently reviewing (sadly, that’s just how my reading schedule is!). I love ratings, especially the cumulative ones on Amazon and Goodreads. What I HATE is not being able to stick with my half-star ratings! There is a big difference between 2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars. 3 stars still seems positive. 2.5 stars, not anymore. And so on.
Great post, Shannon!
Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!
I am actually more likely to read a review if I’ve read the book haha. I like to compare thoughts, but I don’t like to read many reviews before I read a book. And I absolutely agree with you, 3 is positive, but 2.5 is slipping into not good territory! Thank you, dear ❤
I love numerical ratings and I don’t think I could do without them. What’s so nice about them is they allow you to just take a quick look and see what someone thinks about a book without having to read their whole review, you know? But you brought up a good point about how it’s difficult to compare ratings because the same ratings can mean different things to different people. Thanks for sharing Shannon and, as always, fabulous post! ♥
Aw thanks! I think they’re definitely important, especially when I am trying to NOT read full reviews. Plus if I know how the person rates, it makes it a lot easier to decipher!
I do understand the debate. Your definition of a rating will never be the same as another one. But I do understand why people have them. Namely I have them because I know not everyone is gonna bother to read my full review and some might want a quick glance at the rating to gather the full idea. And it makes it easier for me in some ways, although sometimes it can just be so hard to rate a book!
I agree, they’re so important when reading a review, because I get flat out annoyed when I have to try to guess whether someone liked a book!
I absolutely need ratings as baseline – it sets a comparison amongst all of the other books I have and I can see what I enjoyed and how one book fits in with another. But it’s definitely different for other bloggers as well, so it’s hard to see. I know some people have done away with star ratings, but not having them sometimes drives me bonkers when I can’t see what they rated it generally. Because as you said, a review is subjective but at least there’s SOMETHING to rate the book amongst a scale that you understand you know? Not sure if that made sense…. XD
Agreed! I need some kind of scale. Otherwise I have no idea. And I’m not trying to translate reviews and intentions, honestly! There are other reviews that I won’t have to read between the lines for!
I do use numerical ratings when I review books because I honestly think it makes a solid point on whether you like it, enjoyed it, loathe it, or recommend it to others. Although I have to say, the words that reviewers type as to WHY they gave this rating is just as important. The slightly OC part of me needs to have a concrete system of rating books to help me decide. Although I must say ratings about books I see on other blogs or other sites do affect me, but if a book really intrigues me and I don’t care what they say and I still go for it. Like you said, books are subjective and people have different preferences on their reads. This is such a great post Shannon. I know of someone who doesn’t use the numerical/star ratings and I really enjoy her blog. So I guess it depends on which you trust better and enjoy reading.
Aw thanks! I use them the same way you do. I just need to know the overall impression of the book, basically!
I think it’s my OCD tendencies but I HAVE to have my star ratings. They are very important to me. And I feel like they’re well thought out? (Like I do – 5 stars, 4.5-5 stars (rounded up to 5 on GR), 4-4.5 stars (rounded down to 4 on GR), 4 stars) etc. I just feel like in a quick blink it conveys how I feel, and then my review gets to the meat of it.
That being said, 3 stars are so tricky and I think everyone has a different definition of what it means! And, like, 2 stars on GR = “it’s okay”? Hmmm. I think 2 stars is more like bordering on baaaad lol
I do enjoy when people come up with their own systems – the buy, sell, skip is very clever!
I feel you. Two stars is not a book I’d recommend. But 3 might be! It’s kind of a big difference!
I stopped rating books over a year ago and I’ll probably never go back 🙂 I’m working really hard on not letting outside influences dictate what I chose to read, and ratings fall in that category. This is one of the reasons why I deleted my Goodreads account. You’re bombarded with ratings and reviews there, and many times I found myself not reading a book, solely based on that. Totally not fair to the book, the author or really, to me. Now I’m a ‘free range’ reader and I’m having a lot more fun!
Impressive! I think I am too invested in Goodreads at this point, sadly. But I love that you are able to just ignore all the noise, that’s fabulous!
Ignoring the review is SUCH a disservice, definitrly. The review says so much better what one thinks than the simple (or hideously complex but difficult to interpret) rating. Besides, that’s the point of writing the review in the first place–to share more than a single number could.
I’m on the fence because I personally like giving numerical ratings, but I never know how other people review unless I’m familiar with their style! It can get frustrating.
I do wish that Goodreads and Amazon allowed half-star ratings. I think that would help people out a lot more, especially when people are in three-star territory for a book, you know?
I agree so much! That 3.5 star rating is like AIR for me hahah. It’s that “this book was decent, not amazing, and I don’t even really know what was wrong with it OR what was good about it, so here’s a 3.5” bwhahah.