How do YOU rate books on Goodreads?

How do YOU rate books on Goodreads?

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.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. This is why I’ve never gotten into Goodreads. I signed up for it in the dark ages of the internet and have like 4 reviews on there (Harry Pottery and Anne of Green Gables, probably). But really, how do you use the same rating system for something like those books and Hunger Games and historical fiction. It’s like there needs to be ratings within genres. FOR a YA fiction book, this gets so-and-so stars. For romance novel, this gets so-and-so stars. Those star ratings stress me out.

  2. It is helpful to know how other people decide to rate books. For me, anything 3 stars or above is fairly positive (3 stars = I liked it…4 stars = I had a hard time putting it down but it isn’t perfect or I had some issues with plot points/style…5 stars = couldn’t put it down and I had a serious emotional reaction to it and will read it again and recommend it to everyone I know). In my head, I always sort of rate books against other books in the same genre. So Pride and Prejudice is 5 stars for classics, but Eleanor and Park was 5 stars for YA even though they aren’t really on the same level compared to each other.

  3. I’m really similar especially the 2 stars. I still finished a 2 star, but it was a terrible book (Life of Pi.) 4 stars are books I really like, but I feel like I can only recommend with a caveat. The caveat being teens hooking up or cussing or something like that. 5 stars are when I wholeheartedly recommend a book, or it changed my life, or I couldn’t put the book down and the story was just so good. It’s funny, I have friends who rate everything 5 stars and give bad books a 3. While others I know give good books a 3 and rarely pass out 5 stars. I feel like I have to know the reviewer a bit. — I have gone back and changed my review a year later. I upped Eleanor & Park while decreasing The Westing Game. I have also tried to add a few words without being spoilery. It’s fun to see what I wrote years later.

  4. I love Goodreads! I struggled often with how to rate, at first, but then I realized, quite by accident, that when you’re on the page where you’re actively reviewing and rating, if you hover over the stars, they give you an “explantion” – 1=did not like it, 2=it was ok, 3=liked it, 4=really liked it, 5=it was amazing. That made it much easier for me after that. Most of my books are 3s and 4s. I’m stingy with my 5s. I have my 1s and 2s, but they are rare. If I find a book so unreadable that I can’t finish it, I actually shelve it that way with zero stars. I use the review section to clarify any nuances and explain why I rated it as I did.

  5. I’ve had a Goodreads account for ages but just started actually tracking my reading there this month. I’m having exactly the same struggle with the star ratings, and have landed on a similar definition to my stars as you outlined above. In fact, the only books I’ve given 1-star ratings to I actually did quit reading because I disliked them so much. But there’s so much variance in taste, too. Like one of your commenters hated Life of Pi and I loved it! I would have given that a 4 at least. I’m pretty stingy with giving 5 stars.

  6. You make me laugh because I could totally hear your angst in your comment, LOL! I think it does get easier when you just force yourself to do it! Come join us!!!

  7. I think you hit on exactly what makes it hard for me—feeling like I have to compare those very different books to each other. Now that you’ve said that, I have a feeling it will be easier for me!

  8. Oh, interesting about the four stars and the caveat. I will say that that is the one thing that stresses me out about sharing what I’m reading. I feel like someone is going to get upset at me for something they may read in a book I’ve shared (I’m fairly conservative with both sex and violence, but language doesn’t really bother me), and I hate feeling like I need to add caveats to my book ratings!

  9. Ah, see, I’m rating everything higher than I should, LOL! I don’t know if I can bring myself to give a book I “liked” just three stars, though!

  10. Yes! I think the variances in taste are fascinating. I used to feel so…sheepish, I guess, about admitting I did or didn’t like a book when popular opinion was opposite, but I’ve definitely gotten bolder with my opinions over the last year!

Comments are closed.

Close Menu