As you may have gathered from the name of this blog and my introduction, this is a place for me to ramble about books. Which means there are going to be quite a few book reviews posted here. With that in mind, I thought I’d use today’s post to talk about my rating system.
I use a 5 star system, mostly because I post my reviews to Goodreads, a social media site that is all about books. You can only choose one to five stars on that site and I’ve been using it for so long that I’ve adopted that as my personal system. I will occasionally give half stars (which you can’t do on Goodreads for… reasons) to a book if it doesn’t neatly fit into any star rating, but that is rare.
So how do the star ratings correlate to my feelings about a book? Let me tell you!
HOLY %^$@, THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!! HOW DID I LIVE MY LIFE BEFORE READING THIS MASTERPIECE?!
Translation: I absolutely loved the book! Something about it captured my imagination so thoroughly that I can’t stop thinking about it. The characters pop up in my dreams and random conversations. I wish the setting were real or, if it is real, I wish that I could visit it. When people ask me for book recommendations, this will be one of the first books mentioned. I’ll buy it for friends and family, hoping someone will love it as much as I do so we can geek out together! In essence, the book becomes a part of my heart. I tend to be stingy with my 5 stars because there aren’t many books out there that can affect me on that level.
Some examples: The Night Circus, The Hate U Give, Down Among the Sticks and Bones
That was a really great book!
Translation: I thought the book was pretty amazing, but not to the point that I’m going to be thinking about it days after I finish reading or dreaming about it at night. This is usually because something about the book threw me off, whether it be the writing style or the characters or the plot. Something was not quite right, but it didn’t affect the book and my enjoyment of the book that much. This book will still be near the top of the list when people ask for recommendations!
Some examples: The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Sorcery of Thorns, Daisy Jones & the Six
Well, that was enjoyable!
Translation: This book was fine. Didn’t blow me out of the water. Didn’t make me want to toss it in a garbage fire. Just… fine. There was definitely something that didn’t jive with me for one reason or another. Perhaps I found the characters fun, but forgettable. Perhaps the plot was okay, but nothing thrilling. Perhaps I just didn’t get along with that particular author’s writing style. There are a number of reasons why it could have been good but not great and there’s nothing outright terrible. This is probably the rating I give out the most, with 4 stars being a close second.
Some examples: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Magicians, No Exit
That book was… meh.
Translation: Reading this was… a chore. There is something about the book that I outright dislike. Typically it’s the characters. When I can’t connect with the characters on some level, I don’t tend to like the book at all. It could just as well be that I found the plot boring or I strongly disliked the writing style. For whatever reason, this book and I did not get along and I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless I knew it was something that was up their alley.
Some examples: Twilight, On the Road, Dead Letters
HOLY %^&#, THAT WAS HOT GARBAGE.
Translation: Well… the book was hot garbage. This is usually reserved for books that are either aggressively boring or incredibly offensive. I liked absolutely nothing about the book and would recommend it to exactly zero people because I can’t imagine a single, thinking human being enjoying the mess I just endured. I will probably donate this book to my local library so that I don’t have to see it on my bookshelves and remember the pain. I give out an extremely small percentage of one star ratings as I can usually find something I enjoy in a book, but it does happen.
Some examples: The Scarlet Letter, Obsidian Butterfly, Wuthering Heights
What about books I didn’t finish (DNFs) you may ask? Well, I’m of the opinion that, if I didn’t actually finish reading a book, then I can’t give it a star rating. I will still write a review but I won’t attach any stars. After all, maybe the second half of the book is where it redeems itself and I just don’t know because I couldn’t get past the first half? That being said, I rarely DNF a book because I’m also of the mind that once I start something, I need to finish it! It’s caused some heartache (looking at you, The Scarlet Letter) but it’s how my brain is wired.
So that’s it! That’s how I interpret and use star ratings on my reviews. I feel like it’s a pretty typical breakdown, but, hey, if anyone is curious, now it’s written down in black and white.
That’s all from me for today. Happy reading!