How Should We Rate Books?

Today I want to discuss how we rate books. I’m taking a different approach in my reviews, find out why..

Whilst I like to see others review books based on a star rating I have a different method myself. I will star rate for a short n sweet tweet but for my blog I use a little system I call ‘Roxanne’s Reactions’, Let me explain why..

I find it difficult to rate a book that may have been a fantastic read but lacked in certain areas. I can deal with snippets of poor grammar (I’m pretty lazy with my own to be honest!) and I might care a little less about character development if the world building and pacing is perfect or vice versa, but we all have different wants and expectations from our books so my five star might not be your five star.

I particularly struggle with THE 3 STAR PREDICAMENT.

In my own opinion 3 stars isn’t a bad rating, I take it to mean something like..

-Worth reading but no need to run straight out to buy it
– Stick it on your wish list and pick it up in a sale
– Already own it? Maybe give it a lower TBR priority

3 out of 5 is the middle of the road, when did that stop meaning average and start being a negative rating? It seems many people view it that way then feel too guilty to post a 3 star review and end up bumping an average book up to 4 stars.

I’d struggle to rate fiction books below 3 in reviews simply because I’m conscious that it’s somebody’s personal work. An author poured blood, sweat and tears into this creation borne from their own psyche. It feels completely different to rating a film- with it’s vast team of actors and directors- or a video game with an army of graphic creators and producers. I’m not diminishing their effort or workload by any means, but the content of a book can be a solo creation whereas other entertainment might involve hundreds or thousands of people in its process. Bearing that in mind it feels like a direct insult to say you don’t like an author’s work- irrational as that may be since we are consumers.

In the same breath I’d hope authors wouldn’t take criticism personally. I assume all creators enter into their professions with the understanding that not everyone will love their work. I agree completely that you shouldn’t tag an author in a negative book review, if they come across it themselves that’s a different matter, but don’t shove your criticisms in their face– they didn’t ask for that.

I do enjoy seeing brutally honest reviews, if anything it might save me wasting money on a book I would also dislike. However, I refrain from sharing any myself because I wouldn’t want to put a reader off a book they might thoroughly enjoy.

To combat all this noise in my brain I’ve invented my own system. Instead of numbers or stars I use responses.

Roxanne’s Reactions are one word colloquialisms I use to describe my varying responses to a book.

They are open to a little interpretation, though my review itself should give an overall idea of my opinion. I try to use these silly words to convey a range of emotions including: Boredom, Fear, Enjoyment, Confusion, Disbelief, Suspense, Awe, Sadness, Shock, Adoration, Interest, Disgust, Happiness, Apathy, Squeamishness(?!), Intrigue and Amusement. 

Try squeezing all that into numbers and stars!

Hopefully readers will enjoy Roxanne’s Reactions. *Though I’m aware at the moment they come up in a slideshow when using a phone reader.. not sure how to fix that, I’d prefer a collage. Oh well.

I’ll leave you here with a couple questions..

Would you read a book if a blogger you trust gave it a negative review?

How do you feel about 3 stars?

Let me know..

Author: Roxanne Michelle

Dramatic, curly-haired wannabe writer from a nowhere town in Somerset. Stop-starter of all projects great and small. Here to talk books, film, mental health and lifestyle.

20 thoughts on “How Should We Rate Books?”

  1. I rate as a cat would rate. Lol check out mine here 3s aren’t bad to me. Just ok. Anything less than that I will email the author/publisher etc. and not rate except in goodreads stars.


  2. I don’t purposely go out looking for reviews before reading a book. But even if I come across a negative review and still like the Book description, the author, cover and the general look of it, I will go for it. Surprise me by Sophie Kinsella got mixed reviews but I enjoyed it a lot. On the other hand My Not So Perfect Life by the same author got loads of good reviews but it wasn’t for me. I guess it depends on what level the reader connects with the book.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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