Hello and welcome to another bookish discussion! Today’s topic is assigning ratings to books: yay or nay?

When I started blogging, I noticed that most book bloggers gave quantitative ratings to books – 3/5 stars, 5/10 coffees, you name it. Even though from the beginning I decided to not rate books (just following my instinct), it is a topic I really thought about. And here I am, sharing my conclusions with you.

rating books review blogging

Let’s start with the yey arguments for rating books:

§ Clear opinion on the book – Attributing a number to a book is the simplest way of communicating your opinion on it. Of course, the rating should be explained with arguments in order to be convincing, but the “conclusion” on the book is the rating itself.

§ Easier to compare books – Starting from the premise that a person rates books in a consistent manner, it might be easier to compare books and choose which one to read. For instance, if a blogger who has similar literary tastes as yours will rate a book with 2 stars and another book with 5 stars, which one would you read?

The nay arguments I thought about:

§ Narrow view on the reading experience – I think the way we experience a book depends a lot on other factors which have nothing to do with the book itself – our prior expectations, events happening in our life, and others. So associating a number with a complex reading experience might offer a way-too-simple view …

§ Differences in how we understand rating scales – When a reviewer rates a book with the lowest (1/5) or highest (5/5) option, things are quite straightforward. But what about the middle rating – a book with 3 out of 5 is ok as in “I liked it” or “it was ok, but nothing impressed me” or maybe something else? Most bloggers explain their rating system, but how many of us do read (and understand) it? When you read a review and see THE number, you might associate it with your own rating scale, and not with the blogger’s rating scale.

§ Not all books can be compared to each other – Imagine someone rating 4/5 stars both a classic such as “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy and an easier read such as Bloom by Estee Lalonde. While both books might have their own reasons of getting 4/5, they are not comparable at all! In such cases ratings can be misleading, as you’re not really comparing apples to apples.

To conclude, I believe that rating books conveys an opinion in a simple manner. However, it might be misleading as it encompasses many subjectives ideas that are narrowed down to a single number.

My final verdict for rating books is: nay!

What do you think about assigning ratings to books? Why are you doing / not doing it? I am very much looking forward to reading your comments!

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana


PS: if you want to read other posts about this topic, I recommend this post by LiteraryJo Reviews and this post by Drizzle and Hurricane Books.


Image from Carly Schonberg. Cover photo by Eli Francis on Unsplash

14 thoughts on “Let’s talk about rating books: yay or nay?

  1. Thank you so much for sharing my post! ❤ Rating books is such a hard process. I like rating books and seeing ratings overall, because in a quick glance, you get an idea of what the blogger or person thought of a book. Yet, it's sometimes way too hard to sum up what we felt about a book with a simple rating :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree, it’s the quickest way to share your idea on the book! However, I think it’s worth keeping in mind the drawbacks of rating books and try to explain as best as we can why we give a certain rating.

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  2. I don’t rate books on my blog, because I find it frustrating when I try to rate them on Goodreads. I may have a three that I pretty much like or that I don’t like as much, and just rating it a three doesn’t differentiate. To me, the threes are sort of meh books that I may like okay or I don’t actively dislike. Some with all the ratings except twos or ones. I may rate something a four when I would rather rate it a four-and-a-half or a three-and-a-half. On the other hand, giving a book a rating makes it easier for the reader to decide whether to read the review or not.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think you’re right, and it is even described differently between, say, Amazon and Goodreads. I see it as equivalent to a C, but I think others think of it more like a B.

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  3. I only use the GR rating system, although I find it a bit limiting. I’d love it if they would implement the half point system. Since rating is such a subjective thing, one reader should only take into consideration those ratings coming from readers with whom they usually have a common opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I totally agree that we should keep in mind whether the blogger has similar tastes to ours! There are high chances that a 5-star book for me is not a 5-star book for someone passionate about reading Fantasy, for example 🙂

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  4. Yay for rating books for me. I also need it to be clear for me. I sometimes read a blogger’s review that was sooo positive and I expect it to be 5 stars but when I go look at it on Goodreads (yes I’m like that then) they ‘only’ give it 4 stars, which is still great but not what I thought the review reflected. So not only do the stars not reflect the review, it’s the other way around too. I need a reference point though and a star rating is easiest to compare for me (I’m for a half star rating too though).

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  5. This is an interesting discussion. I’ve always used ratings, even since I first started blogging 6 years ago. It’s not something I consciously thought about at the time. I feel like ratings are helpful, both as someone looking to see if they want to read a book and for myself as a reader – I find they help clarify my thoughts. I actually find it a bit disconcerting when I read a review and there’s no rating at the end because it’s so ingrained. Odd!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for your input, Becky! You have a very good point – ratings can be like a conclusion of the overall review. I also haven’t counsciously thought about ratings when I started blogging, but on the other side – no ratings at all 🙂

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