Saturday, May 19, 2012

What's in a Rating?

Some of us read just to read. Some of us read and put our opinions up on websites, forums, blogs, etc. If you're one of the latter, this blog post is for you.

It strikes me that there is no uniform way of rating. Something that someone says they've really enjoyed, save a few niggly problems could earn a 3 star rating from them, but a 5 star rating from another. Others will mostly not enjoy a book but still give it 3 stars, where others will give it 1. And I know that choosing what stars you think a book deserves can be individual to opinion, but how opposed are we to a uniform way of rating.

For example, maybe we could make it a percentage way?

1 star = 0-15% enjoyment factor
2 stars = 16-30% enjoyment factor
3 stars = 31-55% enjoyment factor
4 stars = 55-75% enjoyment factor
5 stars = 76% and upwards enjoyment factor

Something like that? What decisions factor in to what star you rate something? Isn't the point of a book to keep you entertained (whether it's by screaming in horror, panting with lust, heart racing with thrill or eyes wet with sadness). 

I'll be honest, sometimes when I browse Goodreads or Amazons, I don't understand the ratings given to some books. People who claim to have really enjoyed something, but rated lowly, or vice versa couldn't finish a book but still rated a 3 or 4 star rating?

I'd love to hear what you guys think in the comments!


  1. I think star ratings are very much about personal opinion, like you said. I often do wonder how some people come to their decision when it comes to their stars. Most of the time I don't think a star rating can really tell you much about what a reader feels about the book. I tend to give my reviews an overall rating after a full review, so whoever reads it knows why I have given it that score.

    I think a uniform way of rating could be interesting, but somehow difficult to work over the whole blogosphere. It also depends on how you rate, like if you rate purely on enjoyment, or take into consideration the writing skills, etc.

  2. I rate by the enjoyment I get out of reading the book. My five star rating goes to the books that I will hug, cuddle, and protect until my dying day, while my four star is for the books that aren't good enough to marry, but earn a spot on my shelf. A three star rating means that it was an enjoyable read, but I would suggest borrowing it before buying it.

  3. I like the rating method on Goodreads but I think some people aren't using it the way it was intended. If I REALLY love something then I give it 5 stars (and it goes on my shelf 'books worth mugging someone over').

    That's the only place I rate anything. But honestly, something I love might be something someone else hates and vice versa so I'm not sure if it's something that can be fixed.

  4. You all make great points. I understand a 1 star review if someone HATED something, but a three star review even though they really enjoyed? It confuses me.

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  6. I don't like subjective ratings. I guess it goes back to my youth when I watched the Olympics. I enjoyed the sports where the team who scored the most points won, not the sports where someone decided how many points were awarded.

    I don't review often but when I do I make sure that my reasons are placed in black and white behind the score. Just because someone doesn't like something doesn't mean it's not good.