Hello bookish friends! Today I’m here with my first “discussion” type post. I have noticed recently that people on Goodreads and other bloggers have varying opinions on star ratings for the books they read. Some people rate high, others always rate low, some always use half stars (or quarter or I’ve even seen a 3.01 once), while some don’t use ratings at all. I’m going to discuss my opinions on star ratings and whether or not they are very good indicators of a person’s thoughts on a book. *Please keep in mind, this post is entirely my own opinion, and I am entitled to my opinions. You may not agree with anything that I say, but please be respectful of my thoughts!*
If you are a member of Goodreads, you have likely heard the great dilemma about half stars. Goodreads currently does not allow half stars, and many people would like this to be changed to allow for more accurate reviewing. I personally don’t have an opinion one way or the other. I can see how half stars could be beneficial, but I’m perfectly fine with just having full star options.
If you have read any of my reviews here on Blue Binding, you may have noticed that I do not include star ratings. For that, I have a simple answer. I do not think ratings are necessary, and sometimes they are not even helpful. I believe that the point of a book review is to explain to others what you liked and disliked about the book, not to assign it an arbitrary number of goodness.
One of my main issues with ratings is that they mean different things to each person. Some people are very picky with their books and tend to give lower star ratings. They may interpret a 5 star book to be absolutely flawless, knowing that it is hard to find a perfect book, making 5 star ratings rare. On the other hand, there are people who are totally okay with never finding a flawless book and give out 5 star ratings frequently. These people would each see a rating on Goodreads or a book blog very differently, and their chances of wanting to read that book might be different.
Another issue with ratings and varying opinions are the middle ground ratings. Books given 2, 3, and sometimes 4 star ratings are in a tricky position. Since we all view a 3 star book differently, it is hard to tell whether or not we would like the book based solely upon a rating. Again, each number means something different to everyone, and to some 3 stars may be really good, while for others (myself included) a 3 star book is not all that great.
I have heard of situations where a person does not think a blogger or Goodreads reviewer’s rating is reliable because they frequently give out 4 or 5 stars. That poses the question, what IS reliable? As I mentioned earlier, I personally do not find ratings to be reliable at all. I would rather read the review and figure out the reviewer’s full opinion before making a decision about a book. Now, the reliability of ratings will be different for everyone. Some people may find them to be a quick, easy way of getting a glimpse into someone’s opinion of a book, while others may ignore the ratings all together. In the opposite situation, someone who frequently rates high may find someone who rates lower to have unreliable reviews. Since they may not be as picky or hard on a book, they may find these reviews to be too critical.
In my time in the book community, I have learned to take ratings and strong opinions with a grain of salt. I find that ratings don’t tell me anything about a person’s opinion on a book. I am the kind of person who typically rates higher, knowing that no book will be completely flawless. I am easily satisfied, but I know that some people are very picky about what they read. I can understand that we all have a different idea of what a good book looks like, and I think it is important that we provide evidence for our ratings. (I am not the best a writing reviews for Goodreads, but I’m making it a New Year’s resolution to at least write a paragraph about the books I read.) To me, the review itself is more important than the rating.
Our book world is full of wonderful, diverse people with a wide range of opinions. I know that ratings can be a quick way to tell people how you feel about a book, but those feelings may be interpreted differently by each person that sees your review. I find that actually reading a review is far more beneficial than just glancing at a star rating. I know many people include rating guides or explanations to what each of their ratings mean, but sometimes that is not enough. It is difficult to assign a number to a book that has complex characters, twisting plot, and beautiful writing, and it is just as hard to identify the reasons behind a star rating without any explanation.