After my rambling post about whether or not to use star ratings, the overwhelming feedback was that I should. So I’ve gone back and started rating things, but now I have some more thoughts about this whole system.
So some of my concerns very much still stand. I have some very highly rated books that I’ve really enjoyed in the last year, but it’s interesting because there are definitely some among them that I enjoyed a lot more than others. I could go back and try to clarify that some are more 4.5 star ratings rather than straight up five stars, but I think giving partial stars is kind of cheating the system and that it’s meant to be overly simplistic for a reason. So within my five-star books, there are definitely some that I like more than others, but it’s ok that they wound up with the same rating.
At the other end of the spectrum, after giving my initial star ratings, I realized that I’m very unwilling to give out harsh ratings. I feel like one-star ratings should be reserved for the books that I actively dislike or find to be harmful, but Goodreads provides the guidelines that one star means you didn’t like it. Sometimes I don’t like a book for very definable reasons, but other times I just didn’t like it for personal preferences. So I feel bad giving them both one star, but the reality is that I didn’t like any of them. And I think it’s more valuable to use two-star ratings to indicate books that were just ok and three-star ratings for books I liked but wouldn’t necessarily recommend, so I’m sticking with one star meaning I didn’t like the book for whatever reason.
I feel like a bit of a jerk, but I’m trying to make my Goodreads star ratings reflect what I thought of a book. Of course, I think a star rating is most useful when paired with a brief review, and I need to start doing better about that on my Goodreads, but at least now you can tell at a glance what I thought of a book.
I also found it really helpful to go back and compare a book to other books with the same rating. Obviously there’s a bit of a range within each star rating, but I became a lot more willing to give books lower star ratings when I realized that the way I was currently rating them had books I disliked grouped with books I generally liked. Seriously, putting them in context is what really helped me nail down a rating for a lot of the books I’ve read.
Granted, I would still caution you to take my star ratings with a grain of salt. I still think my concerns that a star rating doesn’t accurately reflect my full opinion is valid, plus different people have different criteria for star ratings, so they might think I hated a book when I give it one star when the reality is I just didn’t like it, and that dislike could be for personal preference as opposed to something I had an active problem with. Plus, in one instance, I realized that a particular scene really sank what otherwise would have been a decently rated book.
Idk, I’m overthinking this whole thing again. But I just had some more thoughts when I started rating books that I wanted to share, and I want to put it out there that, while I think star rating is a useful system, it’s overly simplified and I still have some issues with it.
And for the record, there are some books I refuse to give a rating to. Typically these books are in genres or formats that I generally don’t like, so I don’t feel qualified to give them a rating because I couldn’t get past the genre or format. Though occasionally there are books that I’m pretty baffled by and can’t really coherently put together my thoughts in a way that would enable me to give a star rating.
Overall, I would say my general guidelines for starring books are as follows:
Five stars = It was amazing
Four stars = Really liked it
Three stars = Liked it
Two stars = It was ok
One star = Didn’t like it
Generally I would recommend everything with a four or five star rating, while three is kind of on the fence depending on the book and what you’re looking for. But I personally wouldn’t recommend any of the one or two star books, though of course some of that will just come down to personal preference and what I didn’t like as opposed to it being harmful or something more objectively bad.
Alright, enough of my rambling. Let me know in the comments what the last book was that you gave five stars and the last book that you gave one star!