This is a post where I ramble about review rating systems and say MEH a lot

I don’t use any kind of rating system for my book reviews. I considered it once. I thought I should have some sort of numerical conclusion to my reviews, so I decided to use the rating system at Goodreads because it seemed pretty simple and easy to use. I even updated all my book reviews to reflect the rating. Less than ten minutes later I ended up taking it out. Meh.

I just don’t like doing those ratings. If I could skip it I would, but then most of you know you have to do them every time you post a review on Goodreads and Amazon. And I know it helps authors with their ratings, book sales and what not, so I don’t want to sacrifice a review just because I don’t like rating systems. Meh.

I’m fairly new at book blogging and I realized a few things about how I do my reviews.

I’m pretty conservative when it comes to ratings. I rate most books as 3 stars and only reserve 4 or 5 for those books that I really felt strongly about. I don’t like giving anything lower than 3–I don’t think I’ve ever given a rating lower than 3. I feel that anything lower than 3 pulls the book’s entire rating down and I don’t like the idea.

I tend to be nice in my written reviews. I may point out things I didn’t care for or I may say that I had a hard time reading the book, but I never say anything too negative and I always try to balance it out with something positive. I don’t know if it’s my psychology or consulting background at work, but that’s just how my reviews come out. I like my reviews balanced, but sometimes it results to an inconsistency between my written review and my rating. I realized this a few of days ago when I was going through my reviews at Amazon and there were a couple of comments on one. The comments basically pointed out that for such a good review I only gave the book a 3-stars rating. I went over my review again and thought maybe the book did deserve more than 3 stars. Meh.

Crap. There. I don’t like rating systems because they make me inconsistent! :P No, seriously, I’m not much of a rater. I’m indecisive and can be a pushover. I don’t like putting in a 3 when everyone else is a 4. Hah. I know, I suck.

Anyway, I don’t really I intend to make major changes to how I do reviews. I like my nice and trying-to-be-balanced written reviews. In my last couple of reviews I just included a things I liked and things I didn’t like bit at the end. I will just try to be fair and honest with the numerical ratings. Meh.

What do you think about rating systems in book reviews?

How many MEH’s can you say in one post?


9 thoughts on “This is a post where I ramble about review rating systems and say MEH a lot”

  1. Interesting conundrum, Leah! I’ve gotten flack for using the full-rating system. Yes, I do 1-star books, and apparently, since I’m an author, this is just not acceptable, but I don’t rate everything 5 stars, that makes the really special books stand out less. My approach to the rating system is as follows (and this is pretty much just for GoodReads, since I don’t generally post to Amazon or my blog):

    5-stars = I was impressed; this book far exceeded expectations and I’ll be recommending it to my compadres
    4-stars= I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t quite great. I may recommend it to friends on a case-by-case basis
    3-stars = Something didn’t click, but I can see the author’s intent.
    2-stars = Okay, I don’t really use this one.
    1-star = couldn’t finish, and you better believe my review will tell you why

    Another issue I struggle with is rating books by my friends, especially friends who have been so supportive of MY books. I like to maintain integrity as a reviewer, so I can’t give 5-stars out like party favors, but at the same time, I know it can really hurt people who just love your work. It’s very, very tricky. Gaaaaah. I mean, meh.

  2. I also use three as a default, since that means average and it makes sense for most of the books that I had read to be average. However, I feel guilty about it sometimes since people tend to default more toward 4 or 5 stars, but I don’t like throwing 5 stars out at every book. I feel like a book has to be fantastic to earn it.

    However, I wished more rating systems allow half-stars. Then you’ll have more 3.5 stars. It might be hard remembering whatever a book was a 3 or a 3.5, but it takes some of the pain away.

  3. I agree with you–rating is too hard! Especially on a one to five scale, there’s just not enough room–I want to save the fives for the changed-my-life type books, but that doesn’t seem fair to other books that are also really great–why shouldn’t they get fives too? And then there’s the question of whether you should rate based on how well-written you think a book is, or how much you enjoyed it. There are some very well-written books I didn’t enjoy or connect with at all, and vice versa. So I usually don’t rate books…you actually don’t have to rate them on goodreads, you can just mark them read and write in a review without filling out the star part.

    • I know what you mean about what to do when you didn’t really enjoying a well-written book. What then? :S

      I didn’t know that about Goodreads! I thought the rating was a requirement! I’d feel weird about posting a review without a rating though. :S


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