My Relationship With Book Ratings

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I admit that book ratings matter a lot to me as a reader and as a book blogger. But ugh, sometimes they’re are just so tricky! Here’s my quick analysis of my relationship with ratings:

The Good

  • Ratings help me categorize books. They make it easier for me to label books as loved, liked and ‘just not my type’. I don’t have an organization system to my bookshelves but I realized that I actually like to group my books by how much I enjoyed them so that those with higher ratings get the top shelf and those with lower ratings get the bottom shelf.
  • Ratings conclude verdicts. Ratings are an easy representation of where I stand with a certain book and they clue in others on whether I enjoyed a certain book or not. Also, when I’m the one reading reviews, I can just take a quick look at the rating and get an impression of how much the person liked the book.
  • Ratings are warnings. I confess that before I buy certain book or add them to my to-read shelf, I always check its average Goodreads rating alongside reading reviews. So when I see that the average rating is pretty low, I steer clear of the book. Same thing with when I read reviews from my favourite blogs- if the reviewer gave a low rating for the book, it’s a telltale of how he/she felt about the it and I feel like it’s a  warning that there’s a slight probability that I might not like it too. With that, I have avoided lots of  dire books and am able to concentrate my focus on the better reads.

The Bad

  • Ratings are misleading and often presumptuous. Oh, the elusive 3 star rating. Generally, 3 star ratings mean that the book was good and likeable but I’ve seen 3 star reviews that are not-so-nice. There’s a world of difference with what a rating can mean for a person, and if you don’t take the time to read the review or determine the person’s rating system and make predictions about the book because of its rating, it might effect to wrong conclusions.
  • Ratings are hard. Come on, don’t tell me you’ve never had a problem rating a certain book. Ever since I’ve become a book blogger, I’ve given much thought to my ratings. I’m always always torn between 3s and 4s! The 5s are the easiest to give because you just know when you really love a book! But liking a book is more complicated especially when you don’t know whether you ‘just-like’ or ‘really-like’ a book.
  • Ratings divide opinions. Often, they separate reviews into positive and negative ones (1s and 2s being the negative, 3s, 4s and 5s being the positive)- even separating reviewers by how often they give high and low ratings. To be honest, I’ve struggled with whether I wanted to keep my rating system. I love my little owls and all but I’ve thought about doing rating-less reviews on the blog, like Rachel of Hello Chelly and Alexa of Alexa Loves Books. I’ve always tried to look at a book’s upside and downside and mention those in my reviews but I feel like they’re overruled by the rating I give and that makes me feel really apprehensive.

So, yes, I have a love-hate thing with ratings. Sorry for the rant, guys! I feel like I was really incoherent and repetitive here so I’m gonna redirect you to more insightful discussions about ratings! Check out Hannah of So Obssessed With’s Read. Review. Rate? post and Cass of Books With Cass’ discussion on rating books if you feel like reading more about the topic!

Anyway, what are your thoughts on ratings? Do you like them? Do you often feel that rating books is hard? Do you steer clear of books with low ratings? Did you ever want to not rate a book? Talk to me!

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29 Responses

  1. I so agree with all the bads (well not that bad), ratings are sometimes HARD – extremely HARD. I always struggle between ratings like 3 or 4 and sometimes 2 or 3. Ugh. That’s why I reason out a 3.5, 4.5 rating, but still it feels not enough TT

    Honestly, if there’s mix rating with a particular book I tend to stall reading it :< Because really, no matter how I read the review, I always end up basing on the rating.

    Great discussion, Hazel! :D

    1. Right? I’ve struggled with a 2 or 3 before but not as often as books between 3 and 4. The half-ratings don’t even do much! Sometimes I struggle with them too- whether I should throw in a .5 or something.

      Mix ratings are fine with me- I can determine whether I want to read the book or not. But when the rating, especially the average rating, is scary low, I stay away. Truth right there- ratings really matter a lot at the end of the day!

      Thank you for dropping by! <3

  2. I love ratings. But I do think that sometimes they can be too solid, you know? Because I can really like a book. A LOT! And still only give it 3/5. And then people think you hated it.

    It’s a tricky process methinks. As long as you go with your gut, and you’re open and honest (and friendly, I never understand why people are cruel) about why, then I don’t think you can go wrong.


  3. I find them very important. I like it when I can see what someone thinks about the book in one glance. I always have the idea I’m not sure about someone’s opinion when there is no rating; they complete the review in my eyes :) The whole difference in stars made me write a sentence under each of my reviews, so people can’t interpret it wrong. My 3 stars is ‘I liked it, but some things bothered me.’ It was good, but nothing special. Just okay.

    But rating can be so hard, yes. Especially when I look back. I loved X book at that time, but when I compare it with the book I just read and loved, it doesn’t deserve the same rating.. So I always try to judge the book at that time. It’s also the reason I have 3.5 and 4.5 stars. Without them, I couldn’t rate books.

    This is always an interesting topic, so thanks for sharing your feelings!

    1. They are definitely crucial! I love what you said- “they complete the review in my eyes.” So true! I don’t have a short explanation under my ratings but I have a rating system guide- which I hope people actually check out!

      Comparing ratings just complicate things so much more, trust me! I try to avoid doing that but when I forget- I get so unsure with how many stars (in my case, owls) to give.

      Thank you for sharing yours too, Mel! :)

  4. The rating conversation is one of the biggest out there right now, and I can understand why, and I can understand the confusion. the 3 star rating is the most difficult to understand, mostly because it does depend on the person as to what a 3 stars means, and in the end, you have to seek out what they mean. But the star rating will affect how eager I am to read a book, and peoples ratings will push me or pull me towards or away from a book, and that’s not always good; I might love what they hate! It’s a tough topic, but one that really does divide people. You covered it well Hazel :D

  5. I have a really hard time rating books (movies, or anything else). For start, I hate to rate with five star, with then I have a bigger amplitude to rate.
    And I also think the rating change (at least for me) when you just finished reading it and when you have time to process.
    Sometimes I want to give certain rating to a book and when I see the other books with that rating I think is unfair to put them in the same category but don’t want to lower the rating…
    That is why I try to read some reviews before deciding to read a book, because a rating can mean something for someone and another thing for another one…

    1. I can understand why! There’s definitely a difference in the rating after just-finishing and after thinking it over. I always try to put some space in between- just enough for me to contemplate what rating the book deserves.

      I do the same- read reviews before deciding to go into a book, I mean! :D

  6. I’ve always used ratings, but I agree, there are definitely pros and cons. As for right now, I’ll probably continue to use them, but I have toyed with the idea of nixing them with my reviews. Especially on nights like tonight–I just finished And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard, and I jumped back and forth between 3 and 4 stars at least a dozen times!

  7. I like ratings, even if they can be confusing and irritating and I feel like throwing them across the room out of frustration.
    However, they are nice. Clean. Well rounded. They give me a good idea of how much a reviewer liked or disliked the novel. I don’t have to wade through the goods and bads and try to decide whether or not the person thought the book was average, good, or amazing. I can read these goods and bads and place it in context relating to the rating they gave the book.
    Rating books can be difficult for me. Sometimes I am so torn between ratings, I just give up and pick one, even if it doesn’t perfectly rate the book the way I want it to. Threes are definitely the hardest *internal screaming*
    As for other people’s ratings or Goodreads ratings of books – I take them into consideration, but I don’t take them as gospel. I mean, every reader has different taste, so while I may love a book, a friend with similar taste might not even like it. But if I had read their review before I read the book, and taken it as gospel and stayed away from it, then I might not have found the book that I loved so much. So I think it is really important to take ratings with a grain of salt, because even if you and someone else have really similar taste, they might not have liked a book for entirely different reasons than you, and you may have loved it. I hope that makes sense, haha!

    1. Hiiiiya, Chiara! So good to see you around! :D

      I can sense your frustration from a mile away. But yes- ratings are pretty straight to the point aren’t they? I’ve definitely felt torn about ratings as well- UGH THREES!

      And that totally makes sense, Chiara! If I let ratings affect me too often, I may have not read some of the most awesome books out there. :)

  8. I personally like ratings. I feel like it’s an easy way to determine whether people like a book or not. I know we all rate books differently, but I think high and low is pretty understandable. And when you read the review, that’s when you know what one person has to say a book. I’m not very fond of reviews without ratings because I want a quick way of telling if the review will be positive or negative. I don’t really read negative reviews unless I have read the book because I want to see how the book would go first.

    I usually have a hard time rating books. The favorites are usually easy to rate, but everything else can certainly be difficult. There are times when it’s so hard to decide that I leave the book without a rating on Goodreads and just come back to it once I’ve thought it out.

    1. Hmmm, ratings are definitely easy- they’re quick to understand. As long as you read the review alongside it, I think you’re fine. I’m glad you spoke up about not being fond of reviews without ratings. I probably won’t do that anymore then. :D

      All of us have had difficulty with ratings at some point- I don’t like leaving a book without ratings though. :(

  9. I like ratings. In fact, I find it REALLY difficult to follow blogs that don’t use any kind of rating system. Before reading a review, I always like to be able to quickly glance at a rating to get a feel for what kind of review it is (positive, negative, totally fangirly, etc.). But if there’s no rating system, there’s no way for me to do that.

    I know people can interpret 3 stars differently, but I don’t think it matters that much as long as there’s a review along with the rating. Because although we may not know at first glance if 3 stars means it was “okay” or they “liked” it, the review should be able to clarify that well.

    1. I def won’t be going rating-less anytime soon then. ;) It is nice to be able to take a quick glance at the rating and get some impression of the review already, yes? You’re totally right- three stars are backed up by their reviews. Sometimes though, I feel like people skip reviews because they’ve already gotten assumptions based on the rating. If only everyone really does read the reviews, that would be ideal!

  10. I feel like I’m one of the rare people who actually don’t use ratings. I used it for a short time but I chucked it out. One, it’s hard for me to quantify it and what defines a 3 from a 4? Also, half-stars puzzle me.

    If anything, Goodreads ratings give me a range and I’ve noticed when people don’t use ratings, their reviews can include more details about the book, giving me a clearer idea about the book itself and whether or not I’d like it. From a reader’s standpoint, I don’t dislike reviews that use a rating scale, though. I personally don’t do it because I find it hard to quantify the likeability of a book based on numbers.

    1. Don’t worry- I like people who dare to go without ratings! Like I said, at some point, I’ve thought about doing the same. Less complication for me then! (It really is hard to quantify books by ratings!) For now though, I’m sticking with the owls. :)

  11. I actually like seeing ratings on people’s reviews. It’s like a summary of how you felt about a certain book. I do, however, hate the 3 star rating haha. It’s so misleading because I interpret it differently than others. For me, a 3 star rating is an okay book. It was a good read, but it’s that book that I’ll probably forget after a week. I also usually end up sounding so negative in my 3 star reviews, but that’s because I feel so disappointed with the book.

  12. I get this so, so much. I tend to see three stars as a good thing, but not everyone does. And it is hard to judge sometimes. I find whole reviews to be a good judge, but I like the ratings along with them. To me, I find that the rating helps translate the review, and that the review helps translate the rating. I like them together and they make things make sense. Whether it was just a personal dislike that others will like or if it’s something most everyone will probably dislike. Great post! You nailed the pros and cons.

  13. I think ratings are certainly helpful when buying a book and such but when it comes to rating myself….aaaaah so difficult. Excellent discussion, sorry for the short comment!

  14. I actually pretty much hate when a review doesn’t have a rating in any form. The reason is simple: reviews can be misleading. More often than not I myself concentrate on what I liked/disliked about a book without mentioning the other side in greater detail. And that can make the book seem more or less enjoyable than it, in fact, was. Ratings clear that off, although you do have to check the rating system as everyone perceives the ratings differently. For example, a negative review in my system is a 1 & 0 stars, with 2 stars being neutral, and 3< being positive. I know a lot of people perceive 2 stars as a negative review but not me. So yeah, the point is, I really need ratings and it really discourages me to read a review if it doesn't have it.

  15. Ratings are a must for me. I tried reviewing without ratings before but it was just so hard to get my feelings for that book down in my head that way. Plus, when I’m reading others’ reviews, those without ratings (especially with the middle of the road kind of books) tend to make me sit back and think, “Well? Did you like it or not?” If I’m in a rush and I don’t have time to read the full review, I also like to skip down to the end and see what their rating was.

    But there is no doubt that ratings are hard! Probably even one of the hardest things about blogging. The only cure I’ve found for that was to develop a really defined rating system, as much as I could. I sat and worked on my scale for hours, trying to determine the best way to categorise each rating. In the end I opted for a kind of ratio system, where I compared number of pros to the number of cons: an equal number is either a 2 or 3, depending on my issues; more pros is a 4 or 5; more cons is a 1 or 2. Some issues are weighted more, too, so a huge problem with worldbuilding might count for two cons while a slight problem with editing would only be worth 1, for example. I know it makes it seem a bit mathematical, but I’ve found it helps to lessen the waffling between ratings a bit.

  16. I stick a rating on my review to give me a basic idea of how it made me feel, if I go back to look at it later. I also like to use a rating system to help distinguish between those 4 and 5 star reviews (or the 1 and 2), otherwise people might think I liked (or disliked) a book a lot more than I did!

  17. I love it when I see a rating on a review because it gives me an idea of how the reviewer overall felt about the book. Sometimes I get to the end of someone’s review and don’t know exactly where they stand on the book. Did they like it a lot? Were the bad things enough to make them dislike the book? I know some people don’t like to give ratings, but they’ll do a little “recap” at the end of the review saying, “Oh I love it and I totally recommend it!” or “Don’t waste your time!” and I feel like these are totally acceptable alternatives because their thoughts about the book are super obvious.

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