Rating Books is Quite the Struggle

ratingbooksdiscussion

My Dilemma

I have a Goodreads account that I actively use to track the books I read, and rate them. I love Goodreads, but whenever I’m rating a book, I’m in a dilemma. According to Goodreads, my average book rating is 4.14, which is really quite high. I’m not sure if this is a bad thing or a good thing or if I’m worrying about it way too much.

Why It Could Be a Good Thing

I think one reason I mostly rate books 4 or 5 stars is I am very careful with choosing which books I read. I’m not really an impulsive decision maker when it comes to anything, and that includes with choosing what to read. I choose books that I think will interest me and are clean. While something sometimes slips and I end up not liking a book, I usually enjoy the books that I read. Therefore, I rate most books pretty high.

Why It Could Be a Bad Thing

On the flip side, I think another reason I usually rate books so high is I feel guilty if I rate books 3 stars (or in my case, butterflies) or less. I know how much work an author has to put into a book, and how much a bad review can hurt. Honestly, though, a three star review isn’t bad. On Goodreads, a three star review means “I liked it.” And rating books higher than I think they should be rated sure doesn’t help other people that read my blog or follow me on Goodreads because they don’t gain an honest opinion.

My Conclusion: I Don’t Think It’s a Big Deal.

I think my rating of books is a mixture of choosing my books wisely and feeling guilty about low ratings. However, I know that I should not feel guilty, and the only justification for feeling guilty would be if I bashed an author in my review of a book, which I try my hardest not to do. Ultimately, I think what counts is the quality of my written reviews and not my book ratings. Ratings are just made up of 5-or in some cases, 10-numbers, and they can’t possibly do justice to books made up of tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of words. They are just there as a quick rating, and book bloggers should not stress over them.

What do you think about rating books? Is it difficult for you to rate books? Do you think ratings really matter?

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70 thoughts on “Rating Books is Quite the Struggle

  1. I mostly rate my books high because, as you said, I know what I like so I tend to choose my books carefully. I think there’s less than a handful of books that I rated as two-stars. I don’t think I’ve ever rated a book one-star, but I can’t remember. Those books are usually books I had to read for school. I enjoyed reading books I choose myself.

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  2. Mmm, I’ve seen some bloggers refuse to use ratings entirely because of this very problem. My avg. rating is 4.14, but then again I just joined Goodreads last autumn and only bothered to include my fav books over the years. That might change as I record books as I read.

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  3. Okay, so first: Ana, you always seem to blog about things when they are on my mind! I posted a 5-star review today, but I’m almost done with the book I’m currently reading and I really want to rate it 4 stars. The problem is, 90% of the books I review on my blog are four stars. In fact, they get no lower than 3.5 stars. I honestly don’t think it’s a big deal either, but before reading this post, I was thinking maybe it’s because I’m a bad reviewer. Maybe I don’t think too… critically about the book. But quite honestly, when I read a review on someone’s blog, even if it’s 3 stars, I want to read it. Some of my favorite books have been rated 2 and 3 stars, but they wouldn’t be my favorite, 5-star books if I went by what someone else said. 😉

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    1. Oh, yay! I love when bloggers write about something at the perfect time, and I’m glad that I seem to do that for you! I usually try books even if the blogger didn’t give the book a good rating, because in the end, what really counts is what the blogger says about the book. If a blogger says what he/she did or didn’t like about a book, I can better gauge whether I want to read it or not.

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    1. All the Bright Places was an amazing book. It honestly wasn’t my thing, as All the Bright Places and Fangirl have both taught me that I don’t really enjoy much YA contemporary, and especially the more dark ones like All the Bright Places. However, I can not deny that this book was written SO WELL, so I rated it four stars.

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  4. I’m pretty picky about rating books. I usually rate books that I thought were okay 3. If I REALLY liked it, I give it a four. I reserve five stars for those out of the ball park changed my life kinda books. Perhaps I am too picky… but I don’t worry too much about offending the author since the majority of the books I read were written by authors long since deceased : )

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  5. personally I think it’s a really good thing if your average rating is high, because like you said, that means you’re learning to choose what books you know you’ll love! That’s a great thing, Ana, and feeling guilty is OK, this is YOUR blog, and what you think is the only thing that matters. 🙂 Really great post!

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  6. I’ve worried about my high ratings, too–mine range from 3 to 5, and I’ve only rated about two books 2/5 (none have been a 1/5). Part of it is that I’m super picky about what I read, and the other part is that I feel bad for giving a poor rating. When I feel bad about rating low, I remind myself that the review is for the benefit of potential readers as much as or more than of the author, and I should feel bad if someone reads and then dislikes a book I rated too high.

    As for your dislike of giving 3/5, I’m often more likely to read Goodreads reviews with 3/5 and 4/5, because I feel they’re usually more honest and fair, explaining both why it was a good read and what could have been improved. If I’m looking at a review on a blog, I don’t pay quite as much attention to the rating, because I’m usually more interested in what exactly that specific person thought of the book.

    Sorry for the long response! This is obviously something I’ve thought about a lot. 🙂

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    1. I often feel bad about low ratings, but like you said, bloggers shouldn’t feel bad about them if the opinion is honest. Ugh. That’s what I’m worried about when I rate books five stars. I’m afraid people won’t trust my opinion anymore. *sighs* I guess that’s part of the reason I write book reviews. Book reviews show what you like or dislike about a book, and are so much better at expressing your opinion about a book than a star rating.

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  7. I actually don’t think I’ve ever felt guilty of ratings. I think I’m quite the reviewer, down to the core LOL

    My average is around 3 right now. I’ve been having a not so great start to the year, with more dislikes than likes, but that’s all because of my mood. I see a book as a book. Why lie to myself and try to like it, right? It’s also not fair to the [very few] people who read my blog. The way I see it, if someone has a really high GR rating, it sometimes makes me question their reliability. However, you totally expressed the flip side. Some people are just lucky with their selections!

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  8. I think you should just rate books what you think they deserve – not thinking about if it’s too low or too high, because rating is a pretty individual thing.
    I have trouble rating, because I don’t know what I think the book deserves, very often. Therefore most of my books are rated three stars – but there are an entire world to difference between some of the books I’ve rated the same. My 1 and 2 star books and my 4 and 5 star books are all pretty easy to rate, but then it comes to my hugh pile of 3 star books, and there’s just a hugh difference in how much I like them, even if they have the same rating.
    Do you ever find you have that problem?

    – Love, Felicia
    ( http://asillygirlsthoughts.weebly.com/ )

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    1. Rating is definitely an individual thing, which is why I don’t just consider the rating when I read a book review. I have a problem with rating 3 star books, too. Sometimes, they are better than three stars, so I want to rate them four, but then again, they don’t quite make four. It’s so difficult.

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  9. My average at Goodreads is a bit lower at 3.68, but I can still completely agree with you. I almost never hand out 1 or 2 star ratings, because like you said the authors really put a lot of work into their novels and I don’t think ratings give a good overview of an opinion of a novel anyway. Especially when it’s a limited rating system with only 1-5 stars like at Goodreads; I’ve added ‘half stars’ so I can hand out for example 3.5 or 4.5 stars as well, but still it’s not completely accurate. I prefer reading the review for a full opinion to see if I would like the book myself…

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    1. I rarely rate books 1 star or 2 stars because I choose my books so well that there’s usually no reason to do so. Like you said, authors also put a ton of work into their novels, so it’s difficult to give them low ratings. Honestly, if I was just rating books based on effort I would give every book 5 stars. Half stars are the best, but they still don’t do justice. I like reading reviews, too, because they are much better at expressing opinions.

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  10. See, I’m the opposite…I have a ridiculously easy time rating books! I’m not sure why, but I’m generally a very decisive, black-and-white person when it comes to things like that…and I’m a cold, heartless person who rarely takes feelings into consideration, haha.

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  11. I tend to be a high reviewer (averaging 4.43 on goodreads, and I suspect slightly higher on Amazon, I’d have to check). Part of it is guilt for not liking a book, the fact that I never rate a book if I DNF, and I rarely finish books if I don’t like it, and the fact that I judge books by how well I connect with the story and the characters, and will overlook the finer details as long as they didn’t deter me from said connection.

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  12. I usually like to follow my gut when rating books. The only problems that seem to happen over and over is when I think a book deserves higher than 3 stars, but can’t quite justify a 4-star rating. That said, I’m not very difficult to impress when it comes to rating. According to Goodreads, my average rating is a 3.93, which is pretty generous compared to most bloggers. I think I’ve only given one books 1-star, and I didn’t bother to review it, and I don’t give many 2-star ratings to book. Great post!

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    1. It is the most difficult thing to judge between 3 stars and 4 stars. I have no idea why, but those two numbers are the ones that give me the most trouble. Sometimes when I rate a book 3 stars, I compare it to the other books I’ve rated 3 stars and see that it is better than those books. So I want to rate it 4 stars, but it doesn’t quite reach the level of four star books. It’s such a struggle.

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  13. I find it sometimes difficult to rate books when I review them [I put the same rating on Goodreads]. Sometimes, I’ll like a book but then there are aspects I don’t like. My average is 4.08 stars, so near yours. 🙂 I’m very generous with 5-star ratings because I sometimes REALLY like books in the moment…
    Great discussion topic!

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  14. Lovely discussion Ana. I used to stress about rating a book a certain way as well when I first started blogging. But as the years go by with more books being read, I find that I’ve become a lot harsher with my ratings because my tastes change and sometimes books that I knew I would have liked when I was younger doesn’t appeal as much when it’s the same trope you’ve read multiple times by now. I think my average rating is around 3 most of the time – I save the 5 stars for very special books that I know will stay with me

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    1. My book ratings have definitely changed over time, and like you, I’ve become a little more critical. For example, when I was in elementary school, I absolutely loved the Nancy Drew books to pieces. Now that I look back, those books were actually really cliche and way too dramatic. Still, there’s so much childhood nostalgia connected to them that I still keep their rating at 5 stars.

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  15. I think honesty is important. However, I totally understand that you don’t want to bash a book. There’s a difference between giving something on a low rating on Goodreads, and writing a bad review. Usually if I don’t like a book, I decline writing a review, but I always post honestly in my Goodreads rating. I feel like I owe it to other readers who use those ratings to guide their book choosing.

    I think you might have said it, though, you’re probably over-thinking it, haha:)

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    1. I try never to bash books in my reviews, either, because authors really don’t deserve it. I guess low ratings aren’t as bad as bashing books, though, because they are just numbers, and everybody knows numbers can’t define a book.

      Yep, I probably am. I overthink a lot of things, actually.

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  16. I sometimes overhink my rating on Goodreads. I don’t have a problem giving a book a 5, a 3, or even a 1. But there is such a fine line between a 2 and a 3 or a 4 and a 5. That’s why I stopped rating books on my blog. Of course I still do it on Goodreads or Amazon. I don’t have a problem giving a review of less than 3 stars. I know that writers’ put a lot into their work, but criticism is a part of that. I just don’t feel I can give a book a good rating if it’s bad. There are some books I have read that I just can’t give higher than a 2. My average rating on GR is 3.77, which isn’t bad. I have read a lot of good books, but unfortunately I have also read a lot of bad ones.

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  17. I usually have no problem with rating books, but I definitely understand Ana. It can be quite a struggle, I know 😦 That’s why I use .5’s (sometimes lol) to help with the rating. Great post ^-^

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  18. I find it quite easy, because I’m a little bit heartless 😛 Like, I just think ‘it’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it’. I don’t think trying to please others by talking yourself out of a rating is going to help any. It’s just an opinion and as a writer myself, I know you have to get used to people having their own opinions. If you put your work out there, it’s going to be judged and not everyone is going to like it

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    1. I wish it was easy for me, and I don’t think it’s heartless at all. I’m a writer, too, and getting used to hearing both negative and positive opinions about your work is a huge part of the writing process. However, I think at the same time as a writer I know how hard it is to write and edit a book, so I sympathize more with other writers and tend to rate their books higher.

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  19. Great topic Ana – it can definitely be hard to rate books and then make sure that your review justifies that. It definitely does come back to having in writing how you felt about a book – which will always be more important than a number 🙂

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  20. I was just thinking of this today. If I enjoy a book I tend to give it a good rating, then I come back weeks or years later and look at the content–and realize it’s really bad. For me, there’s usually one thing that redeems bad writing or plot temporarily, but I reread and lower the rating. I’m not sure what to do about it…if I liked the book, I liked it, and don’t want to give a bad rating 😄

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    1. I try not to go back and change my ratings, although I feel the urge sometimes. I said this in a previous comment up above, but I’ve realized a lot of the books I read when I was younger really weren’t all that good. However, I still rate them really high because of all the childhood nostalgia connected to them.

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  21. Ah yes, the 3 stars thing is quite tricky isn’t it, but I’ve learnt to use half ratings a lot more on my blog (not so much on Goodreads) so I can demonstrate a high average or a low average. Definitely think rating a book less than a 3 does have a guilt attached to it, but then we have to be honest if we didn’t love it. Great discussion topic Ana!

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  22. It’s a pretty good thing your rating is so high! Means you’re picking excellent books to read, right? I clearly don’t have this talent because my GR rating is 3.11 <.<

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  23. I rate books pretty highly, too. I don’t think it really matters, unless you’re so terrified of giving three-star ratings that everything is higher than that! But yep, I usually choose books I really want to read. Which can get difficult if I get unsolicited review copies…

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    1. I’m glad to hear from someone else that usually rates books pretty high. I guess we choose good books, don’t we? Oh yea…unsolicited review copies…That’s one of the things that has been stopping me from requesting ARCs or review copies. I don’t want to be getting a ton of unsolicited ones that I just don’t want to read. I guess I could just give them out to friends or the library, though. Have you found unsolicited review copies to be a problem?

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  24. I had your same thoughts awhile ago too! I felt that my high rating wasn’t accurate because I was overrating books I loved. But as you said IT DOESN’T MATTER. It was because I choose books that were right for me, because of people leaving reviews. So yeah. After I started reading new releases from the library that I wasn’t fully interested in, my avg rating started to go down. So I guess after reading a ton of random books, your rating will one day reach equilibrium. HA look at me putting in economics here 😛

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  25. Oh yay! I am so glad to hear from someone else that it just doesn’t matter if you rate books really high. I have the same advantage in that I haven’t been requesting ARCs so I’ve been able to read reviews to see if a book is right for me. I think that once I start requesting ARCs, my review rating might go down a little bit because I won’t have any previous reviews to base my reading off of. Equilibrium…Uh-huh…I’m just going to pretend I know about all this college economics stuff…

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  26. That’s why I have a rating system out of ten stars, because six stars sounds much better than three. 🙂 I’m pretty choosy about which books I pick too, but sometimes a book and me just don’t mesh if you know what I mean. I didn’t know you could find your average rating on Goodreads! I had to google it. Mine is 3.96!

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  27. I feel the exact same way!! I choose carefully what I read (plus, I tend to ENJOY things… I’m not much of a critic) and so most of my things are 5 stars or 4 stars… and I feel really bad when I rate something low! :O (Unless I really hated it. XD) But… it’s a struggle. This was an awesome post — thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

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  28. I struggle a lot with rating books, so much so that I stopped including star ratings in my reviews this year. I also have a high Goodreads rating {4.05}, but I’ve come not to care about it so much. As long as I am supporting authors by sharing my love of a book, or on the flip side, giving a valid reason for my dislike of a book, I think my higher average is a-okay 🙂 Great discussion to bring up!

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  29. My goodreads average is high also, probably because, like you, I read books I know I’m going to enjoy. I don’t rate books in my blog reviews, because I don’t want someone to turn away just because it got a 3. I also am never sure how someone else is rating it. Is it based on comparing to all books out there, or just within that genre? If it’s a silly romance that is meant to be light and fluffy, then it deserves a 4 or 5, even if some people would think it was crap. I like to rate based on how the author meets her/his goals in writing based on my perceptions. That’s why I don’t give stars on my blog. I give my honest opinions of what is good or done poorly, in my opinion.

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