Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday Chatter: Ratings and Why I Take Them With A Grain Of Salt

Wednesday Chatter is a weekly feature at Ruby's Books where we'll be talking about anything and everything related to books and reading. Click here if you want to see what we talked about in the previous weeks

WARNING: Some bad words might be used in the following post. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Hello dear book lovers! Today I want to talk to you about ratings. I was inspired by a discussion I had with Lia over on Twitter, and by one of the interview questions Fanna had for me in her Interview Of The International guest post series.

I've always been a firm believer that while it's good to have rated reviews, because they give some sort of guideline for when you're checking out a book you are curious about, at the end of the day, those ratings are subjective. What I consider a 5 star book some other reader might view as a 3 star book or lower.

At the same time, my 5 star rating and another reader's 5 star rating, ultimately, don't mean the same thing. For example, for one reader it might mean the book had no issues, no little detail that may be seen as problematic. For me, however, a 5 star rating refers to a book that, despite those issues, of which sometimes I'm aware of and sometimes I'm not, has the elements of a great read: good plot, good pacing, great characters, great conflict, AND not a lot of inconsistencies. I accept that in long series there may be some inconsistencies, but not the kind that make me think a character has blue eyes in chapter 3 and then two chapters later that same character has red eyes with black dots. Unless it's some type of shifter and then it's something that makes sense.

Besides the regular rating, I also am a firm believer in half stars, if you use the 5 star rating system. For me, there's a big difference between a 4 star rating and a 5 star rating. Besides the quality aspects in the story and characters, a 5 star book means I'll definitely be rereading it at some point, a 4 star read I might reread, and anything under doesn't usually end up in my reread pile. However, there are subtle details, small things that will make a book better than a 4 star read, but not quite a 5 star read. It's difficult to explain, and it's usually little things that make me go for that extra half star.

Does that mean ratings don't count? No. Ratings definitely count. BUT. I like to take into account what that reader or that reviewer considers a 5 star review and then go from there when trying to decide if the book in question might be something I'd enjoy, based on a reader's rating.

That being said, I am rarely shocked by a book getting certain ratings, be they high or low. Each and every one of us is a single individual with things we like and things we don't like, things we have in common with others and things we don't. It's only natural that a book will find its perfect reader. This is why I have so many erotic novels in my Read shelf on Goodreads. At the same time, we also evolve as readers. For example, if anyone had told me, 10-12 years go, that I would enjoy reading anything other than erotic romance books, I would have laughed in their faces. And yet here I am, reading mysteries, thrillers and YA books and loving them.

While I do believe that ratings are a great way to categorize books and to make you figure out what is popular and what isn't, I think it's important to remember that ratings have always been and will always be subjective, and each and every one of us has different ways to interpret them. It's why we might love an "underappreciated" book or series (take my deep love for Beautiful Creatures) and why we might be the black sheep and dislike "hyped" books (me and ACOMAF).

Let's discuss. Do you think ratings have a universal meaning or do you focus on a combo of rating and review when trying to decide what to read next?


  1. I totally agree-- I need the ratings as a guideline, I also take into conisderation what that person generally likes in books before I make up my own mind about wanting to read it or not. Also, I'm a BIG half-starrer. Probably mostly because I have a hard time making decisions.

    At one point I had a total rating melt-down where I considered not rating books (that was because I realized that I had rated 2 books 5 stars and liked one a lot better-- but then I realized that is okay), but quickly changed my mind because !!!!! How could I not rate even if I was a confused mess about what I should rate a book. So I pushed through and I am much better now!!

  2. I agree that ratings are subjective. For example, others may consider a three starred book bad but that's how it is for me at all! I don't prefer going by ratings alone though and would prefer having an accompanying review. Great post, Ruby!

  3. You summed it up all perfectly. And this is exactly why I stopped rating books on my blog as well. I feel that it is liberating that I don't have to justify to others and myself about the number of stars I have given and why not more or less.

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes


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