Rating Reads: My On-Going Debate

gold star!I have to admit that lately I feel much more like reading than I do reviewing. Part of that is because I would just rather be reading, but I think another aspect to my reluctance is having to decide what number of stars to give to any particular title or on-going series.

I keep going back and forth on what to do about rating books in my reviews. But I don’t know if it would make sense not to give a rating since it isn’t like it does much outside of indicate my feelings in regards to any given book. After all, a rating doesn’t do much else, and it is unlikely that most people will feel the same way about a book.

A good aspect to a rating system is it often shows a reviewer’s range and often their personality. I would find it difficult to trust a reviewer who gave every book under the face of the sun a glowing review. And it is always in a reviewer’s best interest to be honest about what works and doesn’t work for them. I certainly have no plans on being less than honest on this blog.

The hard part of a rating system is feeling bad mometarily before I hit the Publish button. After all, writing is pretty personal and I don’t think any author purposefully aims to write a bad or unenjoyable book. But then again reading is highly personal too, which is why the feeling bad always passes.

My sole intention in reviewing –and in rating– is to give other readers like myself an idea of what to expect from a book based on my likes and dislikes. I always hope that authors will stay away from reviews, but there’s no way to control that. And obviously I wish for both my sake and the book’s that I could give every book I pick up a 5 or a 4, but it just isn’t always possible. Nor is it possible for me to be Switzerland when I finish a book.

For the most part, I don’t think my reviews would be any better or worse without a rating before or after them. I could, of course, find another rating system to use. That might be worth looking into. More of a sliding scale or maybe some other shape instead of stars. Maybe then I would stop feeling like a very stern elementary school teacher tapping on her desk with a ruler when a book fails to live up to my expectations. But, as per usual, I digress.

What won’t ever change is that when I review, I will express my opinion in as honest and polite a way as possible. All a series of stars does is warn the reader of what is to come ahead of time. When I am debating a book, I read reviews and consider them, but even then I don’t always go along with the majority or minority opinion. And I don’t usually go over to GoodReads, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon and count the stars or symbols lined up next to a book cover.*

I definitely plan to continue thinking about ratings, but I’m curious. If you’re a reader of books and a reader of blogs, how do you feel about ratings? Do they add to the review you read or take away from them? What effect –if any– do they have on your reading choices later on?

* I do sometimes judge a book based on a cover or synposis, but that’s a whole post in of itself.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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5 Responses to Rating Reads: My On-Going Debate

  1. Red Bear says:

    I rate a book in many different ways. A good story that takes me into the author’s world is essential. A book where my feelings stirred, rattled, rocked and rolled is very good. A book that “forces” me to use my mind—without meaningless complexity or inanely simplistic—is very good too. A book that is a teacher and a guide for something (anything!) is very good too. Very important is that the writing is good. Finally, how strongly would I recommend this book to others to read or ignore.
    Thank you for this sharing about rating it gets at the very least a 9 out of 10…as does CSI Librarian overall!

    Your loyal fan and reader,
    Red Bear

  2. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I was wary of using ratings and didn’t initially but found readers wanted a it. I have a huge explanation for the ‘value’ of my rating but I don’t know how many actually read it.
    I do glance at ratings but the review matters far more to me than the number of stars

  3. It is hard too hard which is why I don’t do it myself. I just sum up my views on the book rather randomly as I tend to do and then leave it at that.

  4. cecilia says:

    I still use 1-to-5 ratings on my own reviews, and while I mostly rate books “3” and on the rare occasion of “2”, I think it helps to prepare the reader for what the review may hold.

    When I visit other blogs, I think the less-than-stellar ratings generally attract my attention – especially if it is a book that I enjoyed myself ; or vice versa. I think it is mostly because I want to see what did or did not work for them, and it makes me want to discuss more 🙂 We all have different reading tastes, and it is nice to see diversity 🙂

  5. I’m not really one for ratings. I see a lot of great books get low ratings just because the reader didn’t care for the story, which is their right (please don’t get me wrong). But it just wasn’t the book for them. I try to stick more to what happens in the books in my reviews, and of course if I liked it. Even though the two blend together through the review it’s there.

    I notice in your reviews you do very well of blending, and noting both your likes and the books abilities. You many not like the story, as it’s not for you, but you don’t crucify the book for it especially if it’s written well.

    Do you need a rating system? I think it’s what you feel comfortable with, but I’m okay with out it. 🙂

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