I’ve been hearing a lot about ratings in the book community lately. And I’ve seen some things being said that I don’t think are accurate, or really fair to those of us who take the time to rate and review books (whether or not they have a big platform to do so). Reading is a personal experience, so rating and reviewing books is, too.
I think longtime readers of this blog are relatively familiar with my reading tastes, and can discern whether or not they’re going to like a book I liked. Or dislike a book I didn’t enjoy. And if you love a book I hated, that’s fine, too. Everyone has different reading tastes, which is kind of a wonderful thing. How boring would the world be if we all read and liked the same books?
If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. – Haruki Murakami
There are always going to be disagreements about books, and books that are controversial. But what I really don’t agree with is the idea that anything less than a five-star rating is bad. Guess what? A three- or four-star book is still a good book. Say it with me: a three-star book is a good book. It’s just not an amazing book, and that’s totally fine.
I read a lot of books, and the more I read, the tougher I am with my ratings. I just have more to compare to. I also try to be honest with my ratings. I’m fully aware of how many people read my reviews and may take them into account when deciding what to read or which books to spend their money on. I owe it to you to not be misleading. I’m not going to rate a book five stars just because it was sent to me by the author or publisher. If that book is a five-star book, sure. But I think my opinions are more trustworthy if I give books honest ratings and reviews.
Generally, if I give a book four stars, I still really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. But it wasn’t a book I thought about long after I put it down. A Little Life has been in the back of my mind for years, and I can’t stop thinking about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Those books got five stars because they blew me away and affected who I am as a reader. Not all books can be five-star books. And sometimes, I don’t want to read a five-star book. Sometimes, I just want a light, easy, fun read. And if that’s a three- or four-star book, that’s perfectly acceptable. The vast majority of books I read end up being three- and four-star reads, and I’m totally happy with that.
Recently, I saw another reviewer discuss how a publisher was “surprised [she] was interested in the sequel, seeing as how she didn’t like the first book”. She gave the first book in that series four stars. As did I, and I wasn’t approved for the sequel on NetGalley. Which is not cool (and prompted me to write this post). Four-stars is a perfectly acceptable rating. And if the reason I wasn’t approved by that publisher for another book is that I handed out a four-star rating, I don’t think that’s okay. I’ve given books I’ve received for review everything from five stars to one star. Book reviewers shouldn’t feel pressure to give biased reviews.
Ok, I’ll end my rant here. I hope you all know it’s okay to think what you think about any book, and it’s not okay for anyone (even the publisher or author) to make you feel guilty about not liking a book. Your opinions and ratings are 100% valid. End of story.
If you’re curious, you can check out my ratings guide, which is VERY similar to the one built in to Goodreads (just hover over the stars, and it’ll tell you).
What do you think about rating books? Is this something only book bloggers have trouble with, or does it affect the reading community as a whole? Have you ever felt pressure to inflate a book’s rating? And is rating even helpful, or something we should continue to do? Let’s discuss in the comments!