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2015 Book Blog Discussion – The Fault in Our Stars: Rating Books

2015-Discussion-Challenge3
Truthfully, I have no idea how to rate the books that I review. I cringe whenever I go to Goodreads and see how many books I’ve rated 3.5 stars. This has become my default when I like a book and maybe there was something extra like writing or an interesting plot that made me think the book deserved more praise. But somehow it feels inadequate.

I wish I could devise a better method of rating books, but I don’t know what that looks like. Maybe I need to elaborate more in my review what I felt about a book than just “Loved it!” or “It’s a good book!”.

What do you think?

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30 comments on “2015 Book Blog Discussion – The Fault in Our Stars: Rating Books

  1. Naomi
    April 4, 2015

    I don’t know how to rate books, either, which is why I don’t do it. I just talk about the book and what I thought of it, and hope that people can get an idea about how much I liked it by what I say or my level of enthusiasm. I also think that just because I loved a book doesn’t mean everyone will, and vice versa. I am such a mood reader, and I really go a lot on how a book makes me feel, as opposed to the literary merit of a book.
    I do find it interesting, though, to see what others have rated a book. Weird.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      April 4, 2015

      I’ve been reviewing books for the past year and not feeling satisfied with the rating, but not sure what else to do. I think I’m a mood reader too and my biggest expectation from a book is that it’s going to make me “feel” something whether about the story or the characters or just go wow. But that feeling vs. the literary merit of the book is where I get stuck when reviewing.

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  2. janceewright
    April 4, 2015

    I rate a lot of books 3.5 as well. That’s when I typically like a book, but it didn’t blow me away like a 4-5 book would. It’s almost my default unless I either really love a book or really dislike a book.

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    • ebookclassics
      April 4, 2015

      Have you ever changed your rating? I have rated a few books 3.5 and then changed it to a 4 or 3 once I finished a review and walked away, but couldn’t stop thinking about the book for one reason or another.

      Like

      • janceewright
        April 4, 2015

        Yeah, I have. Usually I choose a rating based on my gut instinct, but sometimes after some time has passed and I have stewed over the book, I know I need to make a change.

        Like

  3. Maggie
    April 4, 2015

    I have exactly the same problem! I’ve just started a bookish blog and I want to start posting reviews, but I’m also stuck at figuring out a rating system! Good luck to you! 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      April 4, 2015

      Good luck to you as well! I’ve seen some bloggers use a thumbs up or down, so I’ve thought of using something simple like that. I’ve also thought of going back to not rating the book, just writing a review.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I hate doing ratings because I don’t think they really say enough about whether a book was good or not. When I’m on my blog, I don’t use a rating system at all. I let my comments speak for themselves as to what I truly thought of the book.

    I do rate on Goodreads, but just so that Goodreads will provide me more recommendations based on my ratings. If not for that, I wouldn’t bother rating there either. But here’s what I try to do on Goodreads: If I didn’t like it at all, I give it 1 star. If I didn’t like it much but it had one or two redeeming characteristics I give it a 2. If I liked it but not in a knock my socks off way, I’ll give it a 3. If I really, really liked it, I give it a 4. If it was practically perfect and I want to shout it from the rooftops how much I loved it… I give it a 5. I give very few 5s.

    Most of my reviews fall somewhere between a 3 and a 5. I have given very few 1s or 2s. I have to really not be digging a book to go down to a 1.

    Shannon @ The Tale Temptress

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      April 6, 2015

      I forgot about the Goodreads recommendations and I remember now it was nice to see the book suggestions once I started rating books on the site. I also feel like ratings don’t say enough about whether a book is good or not. I guess I need to spend more time on my review.

      Like

  5. The title of this post is on point! I don’t have an answer for your question though. I feel like I’m pretty stingy with my reviews (and weighted value rating for that matter) and rarely hand out 5’s or 1’s. I actually really dislike using metrics as a system to evaluate a book; especially when raving 5 stars are just followed by fangirl/boy-ish keystroke spamming. However, I do enjoy reading 1-starrers and the word vomit of ‘why this book was disliked’…so but maybe that’s just my personal quirk against so many books getting the highest of accolades when it’s all perspective versus literary merit (whatever that means?).

    Cheers,
    Joey

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    • ebookclassics
      April 6, 2015

      I think the answer may be to stop rating books. I also rarely give 5 or 1 star reviews and I liked what you said about 5-star/keystroke spam because when I see so many 5-star reviews out there, I can’t help but wonder is a book about two teenagers meeting in rehab before the world blows up really that amazing?

      Like

      • Right? I mean…to each their own…but seriously, I find 3 star reviews to be the most credible as it balances everything amazing about a book with things that was garbage. There’s no way every book being picked up is a 5-starrer and would almost imply an auto-buy. (Maybe I’m just super pessimistic though?)

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  6. lauratfrey
    April 5, 2015

    High five on that title!

    Yes, I have this exact issue, except 4 stars is my default, which is ridiculous when you think about it. This whole issue drives me nuts because in my professional life, I develop consumer surveys, and I always want scale points labeled, and preferably no “neutral” option – I’d rather let them skip the question. And here I am, rating books on a five-point scale that has a mid-point and no label on any of the stars.

    I’ve seen many attempts to get around this. Roof Beam Reader have a pretty complex rating system where he gives stars for different things like plot, characters, etc, which appeals to my market research background because it’s precise, but in real life, I skim over it or just look for an overall rating. Book Riot sometimes does a “buy, borrow, bypass” rating which I’ve seriously considered adopting. Many bloggers do away with it all together, which I’m also tempted to do, because lately I’m enjoying non-traditional reviews anyway, but when I go to a blog and there’s no rating, I get annoyed, so why would I annoy my own readers? 🙂

    Not to mention it’s impossible to separate “literary merit” and personal taste and mood and whether I’m PMSing (seriously – I’m harsher!)… I’m tempted to toss the whole thing out!

    Like

  7. ebookclassics
    April 6, 2015

    LOL, does anyone out there have a good definition for “literary merit”? If I’m honest, I really have eliminated 1, 2 and 5 from my mind, and I’m really just using a scale of 3, 3.5 and 4 to rate books. 🙂

    I love RBR’s rating system too and have aspired to something similar, but I think there are too many books and not enough time to scrutinize the finer points of what we love or don’t love about the books we read for a system of that nature. I know sometimes I just want to finish the review and give my attention to the new books in my life.

    Like

  8. Book ratings are very hard – I don’t think there is a completely satisfactory method – it’s so subjective. I think the reviews reveal the true feelings about the book, the rating is more of a guideline for the readers.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      April 7, 2015

      Ratings are hard, but deciding whether or not to use them is even harder! I didn’t put a rating for the review I just posted for Persuasion and I’m just going to think about it a little.

      Like

  9. I’ve thought about getting rid of my ratings, but I’ve gotten feedback that more people like them than not, so keep them.

    My ratings seem to be a little tougher than others as I give out very few 5 stars. I think that the best rating should be reserved for something really special and I’ve decided that my 5 star rating will only be for books that kept me up all night because I can;t put it down. No matter how much I love a book, if it doesn’t keep me up all night, then it gets 4 stars.

    I have an explanation for my ratings on both my sidebar and in my review policy. A 1 star is reserved for books I couldn’t finish, 2 stars is didn’t really care for but finished, 3 stars is I liked it and 4 stars means I loved it. I give few 1 or 5 stars.

    Terri @ Alexia’s Books and Such…

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    • ebookclassics
      April 7, 2015

      I think I was rating books on a similar basis and thought about putting some kind of explanation on my blog too. Do you think readers respond better to a rating system because it gives an immediate idea of how much you liked the book?

      Like

  10. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review
    April 7, 2015

    I don’t do quantitative ratings for most books. As you say, most of them average out to 3.5 stars and it seems rather meaningless! I appreciate some of the bloggers who have complex and well thought out systems but I find myself getting into too much mental stress when I try to figure out one for myself.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      April 8, 2015

      Yeah, we don’t need to stress about these things, do we? 3.5 stars is my default too, but maybe it’s not so bad if the book was really just okay.

      Like

  11. Heather
    April 8, 2015

    For me 3 stars is the default. That means I liked it enough to finish it, I was entertained, and now I’m moving on. Four star books were thought provoking in some way. Five star books were life changing. Either I’m going to want to reread them over and over or they changed my outlook on a subject. I may have 1-2 five star books a year.

    Like

  12. ebookclassics
    April 8, 2015

    Wouldn’t more 5-star books be amazing? What did you rate 5 stars last year? I think your rating system is fair and I think what we all aim for when reviewing.

    Like

  13. Rating is hard. I actually think I tend to rate a tad bit higher than I should (I’ve actually been trying to change that somewhat). But that’s why the review itself is so important. I list out the positives and negatives about each book I review so that people can see why I gave it that rating and decide for themselves if those positives and negatives make up a book they think they’d like. 🙂

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    • jpschaper
      April 13, 2015

      That sounds a lot like me. I feel like if I ding the stars, I better explain why I did it.

      Like

    • ebookclassics
      April 14, 2015

      Rating books really is hard. I like how you list the positive and negatives in your reviews and say why you think a book is really good. I think the why makes such a big difference.

      Like

  14. DoingDewey
    April 15, 2015

    I’ve just recently (finally) gotten to where I feel like my ratings are critical enough. Either that or I’ve gotten jaded or worse at picking books. But in general my average rating is a 4 and lately, I think it’s taking more for me to give a book a four and I’m really giving books that are average a 3, which is definitely something I think makes more sense. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a default rating though. If a book isn’t terrible and doesn’t wow you, it makes sense to just call it average.

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    • ebookclassics
      April 17, 2015

      I found having a default of 3.5 was kind of a “sitting on the fence” rating and sometimes after some reflection, I would change it to a 3 or 4. I guess I began to question how I didn’t seem to have a consistent method of arriving at 3.5. But you are right, there’s nothing wrong with calling a book average. Maybe I’m just overthinking all of this, LOL!

      Like

  15. James Henderson
    April 29, 2015

    I rate books on Goodreads. I start with 3.0 as a default for a good book that I enjoyed and then rate upward to 4.0 for those that stand out in some way above average and vice-versa for those with flaws. I would be unlikely to finish a book that might warrant a rating below 2.0 while the 5.0 books are those for the ages.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      April 29, 2015

      Thank you for your thoughts! I’m glad you mentioned not bothering to finish books you know would rate lower than a 2 because I follow this kind of rule too. I have decided that I’m still going to use my current rating system because I think it’s a good at-a-glance indication of how much I liked the book and the review can elaborate further on the rating.

      Like

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