How do you rate books on Goodreads?

For a long time I avoided rating books on Goodreads.

As I’ve started using it more regularly and connecting with more people, though, I had a couple friends ask me to share my ratings.

My problem was that I had trouble defining what each of those star ratings means to me. When it comes to a physical product on Amazon, I’d never buy something with a rating of 3, but only having access to 4 and 5 stars for books that I enjoyed really didn’t leave much room for nuance.

After some thought and trial-and-error, my rating system has ended up like this:

1 Star: Just horrible. I’m not sure I would even finish a book that rated at 1 star

2 Stars: Really bad. I had to finish it to see where the plot was going, but it was really, really bad. That could mean poor writing, or it could mean a plot that I just really didn’t like. Maze Runner falls into this category for me.

3 Stars: Okay. Not bad, but nothing to write home about either. Many of my “just need to escape with an easy read” books fall in this category.

4 Stars: Good, but not perfect. These are books I really like, but there’s just something holding me back from marking it as a favorite. Either the writing seemed juvenile despite an amazing plot line or there were holes in the plot but the writing made up for it. I would say that this is my most frequently used rating.

5 Stars: Exquisite in every way. Actually, that’s not quite true. Maybe just exquisite overall. I put Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine here, even though it felt disjointed at times, because it was just really, really good, stuck with me, and made me want to read all of her books.

In all honesty, I need 3.5 Stars too. I recently wished I had this rating for For Such a Time. In my Goodreads review, I said:

“I wish I could give this book 3.5 stars, but I’m choosing to round up rather than down.

The good: The story itself is hauntingly beautiful, and I was drawn in from the very first page.

The bad: It felt like this beautiful book was written and then someone went through and added Christian platitudes to turn a historical novel into an inspirational novel. If I hadn’t been so taken in by the storyline right away, I honestly would have put it down when those started appearing because they felt so contrived and out of place.”

I’m trying to do better about adding a few sentences with my thoughts as well, but sometimes I have trouble putting those thoughts into words!

That said, I’ve seen star reviews from other people that don’t mesh with their comments according to my rating system, which got me wondering how other people use the stars. Have you defined what each rating means to you? I’d love to hear your system!

P.S. I’d love to connect on Goodreads.