While I was snacking on some hard-boiled eggs this afternoon (which are 100% the best snack), I was reading some of the WordPress blogs that I follow and came across Books on the Brain and specifically the Let’s Talk Bookish post about star ratings.
I followed her link back to the creator of the Let’s Talk Bookish tag, Rukky at Eternity Books. I love Rukky’s idea of posing a bookish question to the community, so I decided to participate!
Today’s question is:
Star ratings: are they fair or necessary?
Star ratings are definitely necessary for readers. While people rate books based on a variety of factors, the star rating, such as those on Goodreads or Amazon, is a quick way for people to get an idea of books that are highly regarded versus those that are not.
Are they fair? Absolutely not. There’s not much in the world that is fair.
It’s unlikely that there will ever be a rating system for anything that is truly fair because people will always have different ideas of what features of a product should be rated.
The book community is a perfect example of this. For this blog, I rate books from 1-5 stars, with half ratings. I base my rating on factors such as my enjoyment of the book, plot and pacing, character development, and writing style. However, other people might base their star rating purely on how much fun they had while reading it. There are people who rate books based purely on plot, regardless of how it’s written. None of these methods are right or wrong; it’s up to each person to choose why they want to rate a book the way they do. There’s never going to be a consensus on how books should be rated, and, as such, the star rating is the imperfectly perfect way to rate books.
One thing that this question made me want to talk about is when you should or shouldn’t rate a book. It’s a little bit off-topic from the main question, but it’s so important on websites like Goodreads.
Something I’ve noticed only since joining the book community as a reviewer and blogger is that there is a group of people who will rate books before they read it. This isn’t fair to the book or to the book community. Rating a book 1 star because you don’t like the author or giving it 5 stars because you enjoyed the last book this author wrote doesn’t do anyone any good and it skews the real ratings. Please, stop doing this.
How do you feel about star ratings? Let me know in the comments and head over to Eternity Books to do the same and see their opinions!
6 thoughts on “Star Ratings: Are They Fair or Necessary – Let’s Talk Bookish”
I personally don’t rate a book that I don’t finish. I don’t think it’s fair for me to rate it when I didn’t give the entire thing a read. I may review it though to say why I didn’t finish it.
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I completely agree with you! I’ll usually review a book that I’ve DNFed just to give people an idea of what wasn’t working for me, but I don’t give them a star rating.
I have mixed feelings. A review gives me a better sense than a star of what the reviewer really thought – e.g. if the star is less about the quality of the book and more about reader/reviewer preferences or other factors not intrinsic to the book. Speaking to something I’ve seen, hating a character is not a reason to downgrade a book in my opinion, especially if the author intended for you to hate that character (that’s just effective characterization). Unintentionally bad (i.e. poorly written, underdeveloped) characters are another matter. I tend to read the three and four star reviews for deeper insight (re what the reviewer thought worked and didn’t work, plus overall impact of the book). As a writer, I appreciate a thoughtful three and four star as much as a five star (and tend to side-eye five star everything). I don’t give five stars lightly (and as such really appreciate them when I get them as a writer and don’t want to get them cheaply). Generally, I understand that the stars are short-hands but I appreciate the reader/reviewer’s discussion about the book more than the actual star – and try to practice what I preach when reviewing others’ books.
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Hi! Thank you so much for participating and I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to comment!
I definitely agree with you, especially about people rating books they haven’t read. It’s annoying, it doesn’t help anyone, and it really skews the ratings and makes the book look bad when it could actually be good. And you’re right. Everybody rates books differently, and people will probably never agree as to how the rating system should be used.
Great post, and thanks for sharing 💖
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