Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

My Rating System

October 13th, 2009 by Debbie's World of Books

I’ve been thinking about my rating system ever since someone left a comment on an Amazon review I wrote asking if I enjoyed a book why did I give it such a bad rating.  I had rated it 3 out of 5 stars and to me that wasn’t a bad rating.  I replied explainging some what how I rate books and thought I should do so here as well. 

I’d also be intersted to hear how your rating system works if you rate at all.

My ratings are all on a scale of 1 to 5:

5-Wonderful book, would read over and over

4-Great book, one I’d probably add to my keep shelves

3-Good book but probably won’t reread it

2-Really had a tough time making it through it and if I could go back wouldn’t pick it up again

1-Waste of time

Thankfully so far I can’t recall of a 1 star rating book.  I do post what some may consider negative reviews but for the most part they fall into the 2 rating.  There are a few that I just had to give up on and is probably why I haven’t written a one star review.  If it’s that bad I probably never made it through it.

I also don’t rate many books 5 stars.  They have to be really awesome and are ones that fall apart because I reread them so often.

For the most part a lot of my reviews fall into the 3-4 star range.  It’s not because I feel pressured to give good reviews but I do try to be selective to choose books by authors I know and love or that fall into my areas of interest.  So usually I am not disappointed.  Again, I don’t think a 3 star rating is bad.  I think of it as average and the book was a fun read but not something I would go raving about to others.

What about 1/2 star ratings?

I also post my reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing and Shelfari and I wish they had the option to use 1/2 stars. Sometimes I just don’t think a book is a 4 star book but it was better than most of the 3 star books I’ve read.  I think it helps break down the books a little more since so many do fall into the 3-4 star range. 

I recently did my first 3/4 star rating and wasn’t sure about that.  I debated just going with a 2.5 star rating but really it almost made it to a 3 but didn’t really belong with my other 3 star books.  Not sure yet how I feel about this.  I debate if I should switch to a 1-10 star rating to help add those shades of gray ratings.

What are your thoughts about rating books?

Posted in Books

18 Responses

  1. J. Kaye

    Great rating system. I too wish Amazon had the 1/2 point rating.

  2. Lori

    I agree – – I wish Amazon and Barnes & Noble had the half star rating.

    This is why I don’t do star ratings or letter ratings on my blog – – I just think it’s too subjective.

    BTW, Debbie – – I wouldn’t consider a 3 star rating a bad rating either. :)

  3. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    I like the additional leverage that the 1/2 star gives for reviewing, but I don’t offer ratings on my blog because I find them too limiting because one five star book can be completely different from the next one I would rate 5 stars

  4. Kay

    My rating system is really similar to yours : although my descriptions for each rating are different, the meaning is almost the same. Anything 3 stars and up is good in my opinion. Like you, I have very few books rated under that, because I’m getting better at choosing books that suits me.

    Oh, and librarything use the 1/2 stars rating! It took me a while to see it though, but when you rate a book, if you click on a star twice, it will become half a star.

  5. L. Diane Wolfe

    I think it’s a fair system. (And after reading your decriptions, I am really pleased with the ratings you’ve given my books!)
    It’s just ironic that book sellers only allow up to five stars when movie sites go up to ten.
    Of course, according to Spinal Tap, it should go to eleven!

  6. Natalie

    I recently updated my rating system to include half stars. I wanted a bit more wiggle room to describe how I really felt about the book.

    5 stars = Drop everything you’re doing and read this NOW. I don’t care if you have to call in sick from work.
    4.5 stars = Great book! Next time you go to the bookstore, make sure to grab yourself a copy!
    4 stars = Definitely a good read. I’d recommend buying this one.
    3.5 stars = Enjoyable. Should probably pick it up on your next trip to the library. Worth having a paperback copy if you can afford it.
    3 stars = Worth reading, but try it before you buy it.
    2.5 stars = Raincheck it for later if (God forbid!) you ever run out of books to read.
    2 stars = Might want to put it back on the bookshelf. Depends on how much time you have.
    1.5 star = Should probably still take a pass on this one.
    1 star = You killed a tree for this?
    .5 star = Use to make anonymous ransom notes.

    Natalie @ Mindful Musings

  7. Pam

    5 (not too many of these on my site) Wow I may read this again even though I don’t read anything twice. Had meaning for me made me feel something.
    4 written well, enjoyable story over all.
    3 could get through the book but didn’t think the characters or the plot was super awesome, or the book had a crap ending.
    2 Probably don’t waste your time on this, it was boring or ignorant, or just had bad writing or tons of mistakes.
    1 The biggest piece of crap I have read as of late :D

  8. Stephanie

    My approach to ratings is similar to yours. I consider anything 3+ to be a positive review. Excellent post!

  9. dsuzuki

    J. Kaye-I wish B&N would make their rating system simpler as well as doing the 1/2 stars.
    Lori and Saavy-yes I can see why you don’t like to do ratings. My ratings actually more for me so if I go back I can sort of compare for myself how much I enjoyed a book. I’ve kicked myself a few times after I accidentally bought a book twice especially when I would have rated it a 2 star book the first time around.
    Kay-thanks for the tip about LibraryThing! I never knew that. Now just hope I remember to do that when I next rate a book that has a half star.
    L. Diane Wolfe-yup, I really enjoyed your books :)
    Natalie-I love your rating explanations!
    Pam-lol. Good, short descriptions
    Thanks Stephanie!

  10. Deanna/ibeeeg

    I like your rating system. Concise and simple.
    I wish GoodReads and Amazon and half-star system as well so I just put my rating in the review post if it is a half-star.

    I use 1/2 stars and hope that someone can imply that 4.5 stars means it is better than 4 stars but still not good enough for 5 stars. I would not switch to a 1-10 rating. I think as a reader that becomes tedious in trying to figure out where the book stands for the reviewer and tedious for the reviewer as well.

    Also, I read plenty of 3 star books that I do enjoy. I agree with you, 3 stars does not mean bad.

  11. RAnn

    I’ve chosen not to use stars on my blog, though I do use them on Amazon and Goodreads. I was tending toward 3 as average, I liked it but nothing remarkable, and noticed that I was always the one with the low rating on Amazon, even for books I enjoyed. I guess I’ve let a little grade inflation in. My problem with star ratings is that I find it hard to be fair with them. Take a Harlequin romance, or similar. They are quick easy predictable reads. They aren’t long enough for sophisticated plots or heavy character development; yet there are times they are exactly what I’m in the mood for. It’s like comparing McDonalds to a white tablecloth restaurant. My kids would pick McD’s any day, McD’s is far more economical and its food is basically good and predictable, and the place is usually clean. McD’s does a good job at what it tries to do, and it makes no pretense of being a white tablecloth place, yet the restaurant critic would probably give a white tablecloth place several more stars than McD’s. I guess what I’m saying is that I’d rather talk about the book, its strengths, weaknesses and plot and let you decide if it is the type of book you want to read, than to try to develop a system that gives the appropriate number of stars to books that aren’t trying to do the same thing.

  12. dsuzuki

    Deanna-yes, the more I think about it I think a 1-10 rating might get too complicated. I think I’ll stick to 5 stars.
    RAnn-I know what you mean. Most romance books are pretty predictable but sometimes that is what I’m in the mood for. So I will actually rate it higher if I enjoy it even if it is predictable.


    it’s a good rating system. i haven’t quite figured out how i feel about ratings. on amazon, barnes and noble, goodreads, etc you must. but i don’t know that i want to on my blog. i know that sounds nuts but i think that reads know from what i write how i felt about the book. if it interests them, i feel sure they will check other opinions as well as mine before they invest their time.

    i hope this is still on the subject … i have noticed on a few blogs lately people who are giving away books but not reviewing them. or if they have reviewed them, they have not pointed to the review. i don’t follow blogs just to win books (although i do like to win books). if i enter a contest for a book, i want the blogger’s opinion of the book so that i have a better idea of if i really want to read it or not. i am into gothic but not really into gory details. recently i was really interested in a book someone was giving away until they mentioned the gore. by the same token, when i reviewed craig ferguson’s autobiography, i mentioned that he sometimes uses words that are bleeped on tv. while i did not find it offensive as it seemed natural and not used for shock effect, i wanted people who can’t stand to hear/read some words to be prepared. i tend to pass up these ga’s because i fear the blogger signed up for them expecting to like the book only to find out the book was less than expected but have to give them away anyway.

  14. dsuzuki

    I noticed a lot of blogs do the giveaways w/o review. If at all possible I like to have a review posted along with my giveaway. There were a few that for one reason or another the book was delayed in arriving so I didn’t get a chance to read it before the date of the contest. I usually try not to accept giveaways for a book unless I think I will enjoy it.


    i wasn’t trying to point fingers at anyone. it was just an observation and my reaction. if i hit anyone, please, know i was not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. maybe book people aught to make sure giveaway bloggers have a chance to review the books they are sending out before expecting a giveaway.

  16. J. Kaye

    I use to feel that way, but can’t do that any longer. Authors/promo companies/ publishers are wanting to get a spotlight on my blog. This is a nice way for viewers to get a book as well as the other party getting what they want. Even cutting way, way, way back, I still have a pile of books to review!

  17. dsuzuki

    I can see that with a blog as popular as yours. Right now mine is small enough that I feel like I should at least try and screen which books I’ll accept as giveaways. Sometimes I get pitches for books that don’t apply to my areas of interest at all and I don’t see why they would want the book advertised on my blog anyway since it wouldn’t apply to those with similar interests as me.

  18. SuziQoregon

    Great rating system. I like it when folks have their rating systems explained and available on their blog for reference. I think stars by themselves are useless unless you have a way to understand what the rater means by a 3 star book.

    I avoided ratings for a long long time. After I joined Goodreads I entered all my books beginning with 2006 and rated them only on the Goodreads site using their 5 star (no halfs) system. Until this spring I only rated my books on Goodreads, but never on my blog. I finally decided to go ahead and put my ratings on my blog.

    I decided that for a couple of reasons – I had over 2 years worth of ratings and as I looked back never really had any desire to change my initial rating (other than wishing for a half star option). The second thing was that I was able to look at all my books by star rating and decide what feelings they had in common which was what I used to define my rating system and post it on my blog. I have a short version in my sidebar and a fuller explanation on a tab.

    I’ve decided that I like using half stars, but have no plans to go to anything more detailed than that.

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