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?