Let’s Talk: Star Ratings

Do you use star ratings? I know they’re a quick and easy way to indicate your thoughts on a book, but I keep changing my mind on whether or not I like them!

I did star ratings when I first joined Goodreads at the beginning of the year (pre-blogging) and thought they were a great. I didn’t agonize about it too much, I just gave books a rating and moved on. It was really convenient when I wanted to go back and see how much I liked the books I read in general in previous months, as well as quickly find some of my favorite and least favorite books.

But the longer I did it, the more I realized that my star ratings weren’t consistent across genres. I gave a five-star rating to a finance book that I thought had some really valuable information, but would I consider that on par with some of my favorites? I valued the information inside it and thought it was great compared to other finance books I’d read, but did that really merit a five-star rating? I know that I was using different criteria to achieve my ratings for each book, but would someone going through my Goodreads account know the difference? Plus, a five-star rating makes Goodreads add a book to my favorites shelf, and I wouldn’t exactly call this finance book a favorite.

This made me think about other books I’d given five-star ratings to using different criteria. Are A Court of Mist and Fury and Do You Want to Start a Scandal really comparable to Pride and Prejudice? How much of my rating for Harry Potter and the Abhorsen trilogy due to childhood nostalgia? And what about nonfiction, where I tend to rate books based on how much I learned from them, resulting in generally high-star ratings?

These questions eventually made me stop rating books I read on Goodreads, as I didn’t feel the stars conveyed enough information about my thoughts on a book for me to feel comfortable using them.

But then I started following reviewers I trusted on Goodreads and realized that their star ratings and reviews pop up when I look at a book, making it really easy for me to assess whether the book is worth reading or not. And it’s fun to look at another reviewer’s Goodreads page and compare what we thought of various books. Plus, since I’ve started blogging, I’ve realized it’d be super convenient to sort my Goodreads by rating to find books for various recommendations posts, and it’s easier for you to see at a glance what I think of a book.

So now I’m confused. Star ratings can be a valuable tool, but they’re not nuanced enough to adequately convey what I think of a book. Am I asking too much by expecting them to? Does anybody actually look at my Goodreads page and wonder why Dear Ijeawele and Nine Rules to Rake When Romancing a Rake have the same rating? Am I overthinking this?

Basically, I have no answers even though I keep toying around with the idea of giving books star ratings again on Goodreads. So vote below on whether or not you think I should be using star ratings! And let me know in the comments what you think of star ratings and whether or not you find them to be a useful tool.


8 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Star Ratings

  1. I totally agree with a lot of what you’re saying! There are some children’s books I gave 5/5 stars, not because I think they’re amazing books but because I loved them as a kid. But there are some books I’ve read now that I give 5/5 because I enjoyed them AND they were good books. It’s just so hard!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t only because my star ratings are always skewed….I tend to rate books I love so by default everything gets 5 stars. When I first got on Goodreads and started adding to my shelf I used stars, but now not so much. Not to mention I’m a pretty infrequent Goodreads user.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so interesting! My take on star ratings isn’t right or wrong, it’s just my personal opinion. 🙂 I rate books (with stars) based on if I enjoyed them. I don’t just reserve 5 star ratings for my all-time favorite books, because other books can be perfectly enjoyable even if they aren’t ones I’ll read again and again. Then, of course, I don’t always rate books anyway because I forget to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just feel like five-stars should be the gold standard reserved for the BEST books, but it’s all so relative. I think your policy is probably the way to go (and will help me stay saner).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Star Ratings: A Followup | Dani's Bookshelf

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