Rating Scale

Friday, March 14, 2014

One thing I rarely talk about on this blog is my rating system. It’s used in almost every post and I thought it might be time to shed a little more light on it. I think it’s important to remember that I’m rating the book on my personal experience with it. This doesn’t mean I’m telling you it has no literary merit or that a “fluff” book should be the new Pulitzer Prize winner. I’m simply quantifying my experience with the book for future reference.

Because of this, my reading experience might have been affected by my mood, or how busy I was at work, etc. I try not to let that shift the rating too much, but really it’s unavoidable. Plus, I’m reviewing the books for myself more than anyone else, so that’s who I’m rating them for too.

Here’s the rundown of my rating scale:
★ = one star ☆ = 1/2 star
★★★★★: A new favorite, a must-read
★★★★: Liked it a lot, but won't reread
★★★: Nothing special, but OK
★★: Not my cup of tea
★: Waste of time

I’ve notice that over the past few years I end up with a ton of 4 star books. I’ve learned my own taste as a reader and I read fewer books that I will probably hate. As I narrow the scope of what I pick up I tend to have higher rated books. I used to read quite a few books I ended up hating because I just wasn’t sure what I like (12 Nicholas Sparks books later I figured out I wasn’t a fan of formulaic romances.) 

The reason there aren’t an increasingly growing number of 5 star books is because I rarely ever give a book 5 stars. I have to not only love the book, I have to know for a fact that I want to reread it. When I finished I Capture the Castle I knew I would read it again. The same was true for The Book Thief and The Night Circus. My 5 star rating is reserved for those few books that make me fall in love with them. For example, I really enjoyed This is Where I Leave You, but I probably won’t ever read it again. So it got a 4 star rating, not a 5.

I’ve thought about getting rid of ratings all together since it’s such an arbitrary thing, but it’s the first thing I look at in other people’s reviews. It also is a good reminder to me of my original reaction to the book. That can change with time, but the rating still stands in my head as my initial honest reaction.

How about you guys, do you rate your reads?

Image from here. 


Jillian said...

I am the same as you. If I really, really enjoyed a book but isn't my favorite, I usually rate it a 4 or 4.5, but almost never a 5. I reserve that rating for favorites. A 3 would be something that I sort of like, but wouldn't necessarily recommend enthusiastically as there are better reads out there.
Enjoyed reading this post!

Anonymous said...

I hate to do star ratings. Everything comes out as either a 4 or 5. That being said, i love it when other people do it. So keep it up!

Meg @ write meg! said...

My personal system and thoughts are very similar to yours! I rarely give a book 5 stars, and the only ones that earn such high marks are the ones I consider life-changing -- books that start to spoil me for other books. They were just that awesome.

And you're right: as I've gotten to know myself better as a reader, I tend not to pick up books outside my comfort zone unless they've come highly recommended by blogger friends . . . and for that reason, many of my reads fall firmly in the 4-star camp! But I'm totally okay with that. Life is too short to waste time on bad books, as they say! :)

Anonymous said...

The only place I do the "stars" rating thing is on goodreads.com. I end up with a lot of four stars there too. Generally my stars mean:
5 - something brilliant or that enhances my literary-ness.
4 - something I liked a lot that I'd recommend to others
3 - something I enjoyed reading but didn't find that memorable
2 - something I didn't enjoy reading and would NOT recommend
1 - something I actively disliked or, especially, found to be dishonest and harmful

I end up with mostly 3s and 4s, probably thanks to my screening process... :-)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

I really struggle with rating books because it's so subjective and mood based for me that I've recently dropped it and added a little cheeky sentence as well. Plus I find that when I rate something 3/5 but still liked it people apologize all over the comments that I didn't like the book. But you're right--ratings is one of the first things I look for when reading another's post. And I also have mostly 4/5 ratings and VERY few 5/5s.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jillian - It's funny how adding the rating makes you think a bit differently about the book.

52booksorbust - Ha, exactly! We all hate doing it, but it's the first thing I look at on other peoples' reviews too.

Meg - I completely agree. It makes me happy that I rarely read a book that's a 1 or 2 for me. I love that I've gotten to know my taste in books over the years and can find books that I'm going to enjoy.

bibliophilica - The Goodreads rating system drives me nuts because they don't allow half stars. I definitely prefer LibraryThing.

Trish - I added the Bottom Line bit to my reviews a couple years ago and that's definitely helped me. It makes me feel like I can explain the final rating a bit better.

Captain Nick Sparrow said...

I'm like you; I like to give my stars based on my level of enjoyment and not on literary merit.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Captain - I think it boils down to your reasons for blogging. For me, it's a reading journal and so the ratings are just my own opinions.

Leslie @ This is the Refrain said...

I think this is a good system. I don't really rate anymore, but I used to do it based on where I thought an imaginary reader should put it in the TBR pile. Should you drop everything you're reading and read it right now? (5 star) Read it next? (4 Star) Sometime this year? (3 Star) Eventually, maybe (2 stars) Never. (1 star) I liked that system! I just haven't been organized enough to include it on blog posts for a long time.

I too rarely read a one star or two star book, though sometimes book clubs will make that happen! I also wonder if I'm missing out of books because I think they're sure to be a one or two star read for me? I also just don't finish too many one or two star reads, unless it's the ending that changes my mind!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Lu - I love the TBR stack idea! That's usually what I want to know. It's funny, my last couple low rated books have been because of my book club too! It's introduced me to some great ones too though.