How To Rate A Book
The most important part of any book review I write is the star rating. Regardless of how thorough and meaningful my review may be, some people won’t look any farther than the star rating. To be honest, that’s often all I look at before I read a book.
If a book has 3 or more stars, I’m generally not swayed by reviews. If it’s a lower star rating, I definitely want to know more before I take the plunge.
Ratings alone won’t keep me from a book, but if I’m already predisposed in one direction, they are often the tie breaker.
Star ratings are less subjective and thoughtful than a fully written review. I love writing reviews, and I’m certainly not saying they aren’t useful.
When I write a full review, I’m comparing it to all the other books I’ve read in my life, and calling upon all my life experience – even if it’s not a conscious effort. I assume many other reviewers do the same, therefore no two reviewers are going to be coming from exactly the same place.
Going with the 5 star rating system utilized by Goodreads, here’s what each star rating means to me:
5 stars – It was amazing – This means a book was exceptional in every aspect. It’s extremely well written, tells a phenomenal story, and is a prime example of the genre. These are books I write separate posts about, or talk about all the time, and recommend to anyone who will list.
4 stars – Really liked it – A book with this rating is still a great example of its genre. Generally there’s something lacking to prevent it to be 5 stars. Usually it’s a fantastic story with less than exceptional writing, or vice versa. Often I’ll be thinking a book is wroth 5 stars and then the ending lets me down, so it’s bumped to a 4. These are books I’ll recommend often.
3 stars – I liked it – Most books I read fall into this category. This means I found it generally good, just not exceptional in any category. This is a book I enjoyed, and might recommend, if I think it will resonate with a specific person.
2 stars – It was okay – This means I can’t quite say I liked the book, but I didn’t necessarily dislike it either. In this case, I didn’t feel any emotional connection to a book and wouldn’t recommend it.
1 star – I didn’t like it – Not many books fall into this rating. Many of the ones I choose not to finish will get one star. Usually I feel these books are poorly written.
I can’t tell you exactly how to rate a book, or write a review, since my reading history and life experience will likely vary vastly from yours. However, I hope the above can serve as guidance for recognizing where you’re “coming from” when rating a book.
I also want to stress that it’s totally okay to give a book a “bad” review. For the most part, I stay away from saying anything downright nasty about a book, and I never badmouth a writer (probably because I am one…) Giving an honest review, is not the same thing, and is not only acceptable but encouraged. Constructive criticism makes us better writers.
Does this advice for rating books resonate with you? Do you have your own criteria you use? I’d love to hear about it!