How I Rate Books

I’m a tough marker. I’m tough on myself, on my students and on the world around me. It takes quite a lot to really impress me, though sometimes what I do like can be really simple. I apply this philosophy to rating books!

I do like a star rating. Though my review should reflect what I think about a book, I’m not able to, or want to, fully review every single book I read. A star rating lets me know whether I liked a book or not, even without comments if I’ve forgotten details.

I prefer to use half stars rather than simply 1-5. I often feel like a book doesn’t quite deserve one rating, but the next one lower or higher seems a bit unfair as well.

I don’t believe in giving high star ratings just to fit in with the general consensus, or to be kind to the author. I really don’t believe that everyone really loves every book they read, as I have discussed in this post. I try to separate these influences altogether and judge a book on its worth alone and how I felt about it. Sometimes I do go back and change, especially if I feel I was influenced by the crowd mentality or if I’ve thought about the book more deeply and changed my opinion.

The best way I can think of to describe my star ratings is:

1- This book was shite. I hated it. In fact, I would probably throw this out of a moving train and into a festering swamp so no one else can read it again.

2- Meh, it was alright. I finished it. It was amusing but there’s major problems.

3- Less meh. It was okay but had issues that bothered me. I’d still recommend it though!

4- Yup, this book is really good. I really enjoyed this!


Then half stars kind of fall in between!

I don’t give out 5 stars very easily. Even if I love an author’s work, I’ll give it a lower score if I feel it deserves it.

I’m not in the habit of only giving “literary” books a high mark… if I really enjoyed a book, I’ll give it 5 stars, whether its a trashy romance, a gnarly crime novel or Anne Bronte. If I didn’t like a book, regardless of its calibre in the general scheme of things, I’ll mark it lower.


Leo Awards

For some reason that I’ve forgotten, I’ve got into the habit of giving an extra special ranking of a Leo as Gatsby for books I particularly love. They’re generally 4.5-5 star books, but I think I would still give a lower starred book a Leo award if I thought it deserved it for whatever reason!

I absolutely love this scene from The Great Gatsby, it kills me every time I’ve seen it. I got so many angry hushes when I saw it in the cinema and began hysterically laughing, so I think this is a perfect picture to use when I think something is fantastic! Who doesn’t want a toast from Leonardo DiCaprio?!


9 thoughts on “How I Rate Books

  1. I agree- some people don’t like to use the five star rating system because it’s too limiting, but I think it’s useful as long as you supplement it with an explanation or something when necessary. And that scene in Gatsby is so great! 🙂

    • I’m too lazy to review separately on Goodreads and here, so often it’s just easier for me. I kind of think if someone is just skipping to the rating (which I’ve done if I’m rushing) then they’ll get a good idea of what I feel about it =)
      AHHHH it’s way too unintentionally hilarious and awesome!

  2. Well said ! Initially I had problems with the 5 star rating as I was being too liberal with my ratings – even I looked back on some at that point and went “Is it really a 4/5 star ?” but I feel I’m getting better now 🙂 Your summary of the 5 star is pretty much what I go by too !

    • I used to as well! Especially if I felt bad that I didn’t like it or when everyone else seemed to love it. I’d be worried it was all my problem, so I’d better mark it higher to stick with the general view! I’d then go back and get confused why it was a 5 star because I had no memory of enjoying it =P

      • This problem of mine extends to other 5 star ratings as well 😀 If we went to a horrible restaurant, my parents will be saying “Give it a 1 star !” and I’ll go and give it 2 😐 What to do ? 😦

  3. When I first started blogging I used a rating system that included half-stars, but for several reasons I abandoned it. One reason is that I still had decide on a whole rating when I reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon. There are still times though when I wish I could give that extra half-star (or subtract).

    • I’ve gone the other way! I started off just using whole stars but found I couldn’t decide whether to go up or down, so I started using the half stars! For Goodreads I just round up or down depending on what I feel initially =)

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