To Rate, or Not to Rate

I’m hoping you can help me out.  I’m trying to decide whether or not to implement a rating system for my book reviews.  Sometimes I think it would be useful and helpful, then other times I worry that my opinion of a book could be heavily influenced by my mood at the time I’m reading it.  Also, I’m afraid I’d give everything a 4.

So I have a few questions for my fellow book bloggers..

Do you rate your books?

If so, do you use a 1-5 scale, or a 1-10 scale, or something else?  

What are the pros/cons to whatever scale you use?

Do you have trouble deciding what rating to give a book?  Do you have MORE trouble depending on how you got the book (purchased, borrowed, recommended by a friend, sent by an author or publisher, blog tour, etc)?

Do you ever want to go back and change your rating, after you’ve had more time to think on it?

Do you find yourself frequently giving half points (or stars, or caterpillars, or whatever you give out!)?

Ok, now a question for the readers-

Do you find it helpful when a reviewer or blogger uses a rating system?  Is that important to you?


111 Responses

  1. I don’t rate books I read/review. I think a rating system is very objective. One person’s “3” might be another person’s “4”.

  2. I don’t rate books I review on my blog.
    It seems a pointless exercise. The review should tell the reader whether it’s first rate or seriously lacking. In any event I only review ‘Good Reads’ and don’t give free publicity to bad books.
    Rating seems to be a lazy way of passing comment on what might be several years of an author’s effort.

    • I think most people can tell if I’ve liked or loved a book, or didn’t, by what I’ve written in my review, which is why to date I haven’t been a ‘rater’. Thanks for the comment, BookRambler.

  3. I am also in the camp that doesn’t rate books on my blog. I simply relay what I liked or didn’t like, try to provide examples and let the readers take it from there. I’ve had some books that I didn’t like at all but because I explained WHY other readers have said, “hey, I like when an author does that, I’m going to check this book out.”

    Readers can always tell the books I really enjoy…I gush, embarrassingly so!

    • Hi Jen, I try to do that too.. explain why a book didn’t do it for me, and then sometimes someone will comment that they’re ok with *fill in the blank* and might like the book. I also have a tendency to gush when I’ve really enjoyed a book. Don’t be embarrassed.. we’re just enthusiastic people, right? I use too many exclamation points too! Oh well!

  4. I always thought I should start rating with 1-5 stars, but then when I joined, I realized I actually do give almost everything a 4! So now I’m pretty sure my stars would be useless 🙂

    • My thoughts exactly, Tracy. When I rate on or LibraryThing (or Netflix, for that matter) I give out a whole lot of 4s.

  5. Yes, RATE! That way we know how strongly you think about the read. Everybody does 1/5, but that didn’t work for me. I thought too many books would get a 4. The 1/10 gave me more room in my rating. But, that’s just me. As you know Library Thing and Amazon are out of 5.

    Yes, I have changed my rating once.

    Yes, I struggle on the rating. Sometimes I want to go lower than I do. But, I have to think about how much of it was my personal taste versus the strength of the book itself.

    I do give 1/2 points. No catepillars for me, although I love Raych’s blog.

    • See, I don’t know. I definitely agree the 1-10 (or 1-100) would work better for me, however I keep going back to how subjective it is. I’m in my 40s, so a book I might rate really high could bore a younger person to tears. And one I’d think was too lightweight or juvenile might be just right for someone in their twenties. I don’t know. And you say you struggle with the ratings.. I know I would too, because just because it didn’t float my boat doesn’t mean it isn’t good, KWIM? It’s so much about personal taste, and how can you put a number on it? It seems really hard.

  6. I’m going to state my case for why books should be rated:

    1. I read so many blogs, that if I click to a review of a book I’m interested in and the person doesn’t give a rating, I won’t bother reading it. But if there IS a rating, no matter what that rating is, I will read the review.

    2. Pro Blogger says this: “I find that when you give some kind of concrete rating in a review that readers generally respond well.” Granted he’s not a book reviewer per se, but I think he’s right. People want a concrete, tangible way to know whether you liked the book and how much you liked the book.

    3. Giving a rating does not preclude you from giving a well thought out and well reasoned review.

    4. I know that ratings are subjective, but SO ARE REVIEWS. That’s kinda the point, right?

    Now, as far as what rating system you should use, the reason that I chose a rating system of 1-100 was because I think there’s a distinct difference between books that I would give 4 stars. My ratings reflect that. A book that is an 89 is only slightly better than a book that’s an 88, but it’s still better. I might give each 4 1/2 stars, but I still think there should be a way to distinguish which was better.

    I think minimally a rating system should be on a scale of 1-10. But that’s just my opinion. 🙂

    I don’t have problems deciding on the rating. It’s something that comes from my gut and just feels like the right spot for that book.

    I do not feel like going back and changing ratings. The rating is from where I was when I read that book. So while I might rate that book differently if I re-read it, I wouldn’t go back and change the original rating.

    • Well, I do want you to read my reviews, LOL, but I don’t know if that’s enough of a reason for me to start rating my books. Does one person’s rating really mean anything? If I like what someone’s written in a review and think I might like the book, I’ll go a step further and see what “the masses” are saying on or Goodreads, unless I feel I know the reviewer’s taste well enough to go on just their recommendation alone. Heck, I do that in real life too if a friend recommends a book to me. I almost always scope it out on amazon. This is all very interesting..

    • Great reply, Trish! I agree with everything you said. Although… I do change my ratings from time to time.

      Lisa, I personally do like ratings and tend to look at that more than the review simply because I’m afraid of spoilers. But then after I’ve read the book I usually do a google reader search on the book and read the reviews to get differing opinions.

      Your comment on rating everything a 4 is so funny, because most of my ratings are 4’s. However, even though that’s true, it does give a sense that anything below that I didn’t like much and anything above that I loved. So…. I prefer ratings, but of course, it’s up to the individual blogger whether to rate or not.

  7. I’m of two minds… I can totally see why people LIKE ratings, but they are not for me.

    I don’t like them because they can be based on sooo many factors. Instead, I try to keep my reviews short (4-5 paragraphs). I skim reviews and tend to skip long ones completely.

    I definitely don’t think there is going to be a way to please everyone. If you want a mass-input on a book, go look at Amazon or ratings because they give you the average of all the votes. I can only say what I like, and I’m going to write the way I like to read.

    • Hi Monica, thanks for the comment. I too can see why people like the ratings, but I have resisted doing them. I guess it’s more important to me to know why a person liked or did not like a book, and not what their rating was. But I wanted to see if it was important to others.. looks like maybe it is..

  8. I don’t provide a rating. To me, a 3 star book is pretty good and only the stellar one’s get a 5 but I think a lot of people would consider a 3-star to be so-so. I would rather just express my feelings and why and let the reader decide if he/she should read it.

    • Ti, thanks for the comment. We think alike in this area. I’m worried, though, that maybe I’m being too wishy washy and need to be a tougher critic.

  9. I don’t rate and don’t plan on rating books. I’ve never been very good about assigning things a number or stars based on a scale. My husband can do it with movies, but I can’t do it with books. Rating to me feels like saying this books was better than this book that I read or that it was worse than the other book. My reading is so eclectic and varied that I hate to put books up against each other like that.

    Because everybody’s rating scales is so different, I can’t remember if 4 is good or bad or if it’s a 9 that’s good, caterpillars, or whatever. So no, I rarely pay attention to how other people rate the book. It’s not that important to me.

    But hey, whatever floats your boat! If it’s good for you then it’s good. But it’s just not for me.

    • Exactly why I don’t rate! I might like one book more than another for a variety of (sometimes personal) reasons but does that mean it’s better?

    • Me too – I do rate for the Book-a-week yahoo group because it’s a requirement, and that coincides with what I have on Goodreads, but I don’t post the ratings on my blog.

      I used to be militantly anti-rating, but after 2 years of having to assign ratings for the yahoo group, I’m more open. Still haven’t implemented ratings on my blog and at this point don’t plan to.

    • Natasha said the reason why I don’t.

      I tried to rate books back when I started blogging. I was giving everything a 4. What did that mean? I seriously hated assigning numbers to things.

      Now I just say recommended if I think someone should read it and highly recommended if I think someone MUST read it. Easy-Peasy!

  10. I think ratings are useful once you get to know a blogger. That way you can understand what a five star book means to them, and after you compare reading tastes you can see if you match up. Clearly, ratings are always subjective, but I think they help give a quick sense of what a blogger thinks.

    I just started using ratings on my blog. I’m doing them on a percentage scale out of 100%, since the idea of grading seems like it could be less subjective. So far I’ve given a lot of ratings close together, but I think it’s because I’m pretty good at picking out books that I like to read — if it’s a huge loser, I probably won’t finish it. Either way, I hope the grading will help people pick out the books I think are really stellar over the ones that I just like.

    • Hi Kim, thanks for the comment. I agree it helps to know the blogger and how they do reviews. I like the idea of a percentage scale better than 1-5. Mine would also be pretty close together, I’m afraid, since I also tend to know and choose the types of books I like.

      • Yeah, so far mine are pretty close because I pick books I think I’ll like. But there have been a few that surprised me (good or bad) that I’d give a rating outside the norm. We’ll see, I’ve only been doing ratings for like a month. I’ll reassess sometime after the summer, I think.

  11. I don’t rate on my blog. It gives an arbitrarily precise number to an inherently fuzzy judgment. I recently saw someone rate a book as 4.25 stars out of 5. Really? (or 88 out of 100 as a previous commenter noted…) Do you rate the attractiveness of movie stars or their acting ability this way too? I don’t like to measure things that are inherently unmeasurable. Put em into broad categories, sure.

    At best, I could go with a four category scale: loved it, liked it, didn’t like it, hated it. I wouldn’t use numbers for those, just categories. But I don’t even do that. Primarily because my reviews are first and foremost a device for me to write about my reading, for me.

    • inherently unmeasurable.. hmmm. I really like that. Also like the category idea, which I guess is a version of the same thing but not as precise. I will usually say “I liked it” or “I loved it” so this would not be much different from what I already do.. but I’m not sure how helpful it would be to those who want a rating. Thanks for helping me think this through.

  12. Great topic – and timely for me, too. I’m new to blogging my reviews and have been wrestling with this issue. So far, I’ve only decided that IF I use a rating system, it would have to be AT LEAST 1-10. Trish’s reasoning for using a rating sounds really good to me and, frankly, I was leaning toward not implementing one. I’ll be following this discussion. Thanks for bringing it up!

  13. I don’t rate – I have a feeling that on a 5-point scale, I’d give a lot of 3s and 4s.

    My primary reason for not rating is that a number tells readers nothing about my feelings about the book. If I rate a book 3, is it because I thought it was mediocre, or because I thought half of it was brilliant and half of it was moronic? What about a book with a great plot but shoddy writing? What if I have personal objections to a book but can see how others would really love the book?

    I guess in short I don’t rate because I don’t know how to rate well.

    • Lily, I see what you mean, but I would never ‘just’ rate, so in my review I suppose I would defend whatever rating I would give. If I thought it was just ok, I’d give my reasons rather than just say “it’s a 3” or whatever. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I don’t rate- I’ve already stated in the review what I thought of the book, why attach a number?

  14. I do a rating based on the 1/5 concept. I also post in my sidebar what each number means. I also do the .5 if I am on the ledge. I do give a lot of 4s and 4.5s some 3s and a few 5s. When I do my rating, I take into consideration mechanics, characters, plot, storyline and also if I didn’t like something, I will state it is only my personal opinion. If I dislike a book, I will also state it may be the reading mood that I am in.

    • Hi April. I’d be giving out lots of 4s and 4.5s as well if I just did a 1-5 scale, but I think I’ve figured out based on all these comments that a bigger scale, at least 1-10, would work better for me. Thanks for your thoughts.

  15. Trish pretty much said everything that I would have. I use a rating scale of 1-10. 5 is an average read, 10 is exceptional. I’ve rarely given out a “10” rating, maybe two or three books so far.

  16. I prefer to read reviews with ratings. I use a 1-5 rating system based on what Goodreads uses. If visitors to my site want to know about my rating system, I have a link to a post that explains that I rate the books that I read according to genre. So a rating of 3 for a classic would not be the same as a rating of 3 for a chick flick novel. Because I don’t think it is fair to compare the two. I enjoy both genres at different times and for different reasons.

    I don’t think that reviewers should be expected to have their review ratings line up like a bell curve. If I give 5 stars to all of the books I read in a month it’s going to be because I’ve had a month of fabulous reading.

    But I’m getting off topic. As a reader it’s hard for me to tell if the reviewer really liked a book, or is just being nice, without having some sort of ranking system in place. So yes, I would love it if more bloggers used some sort of number/ranking system.

    • I’m glad you commented, Alyce! I wouldn’t compare a classic to chick lit, but I think it’s totally fair to rank books in their own genre.

      I’ve found the more I read, the higher ratings I give, not because I’m not being objective, but because I’m getting better and better at picking out good books.

      • I should say I’m glad EVERYONE is commenting, because I think varying viewpoints is good, it’s just that Alyce addressed something I’d forgotten to mention. 🙂

      • That’s a good point, Trish – I really know what I like, so I’m going to have a lot of high rankings for what I read. I just don’t read a lot of bad or mediocre books anymore.

    • Alyce – glad you mentioned the rating system on Goodreads. It would seem to me if blog readers have access to our libraries on Goodreads or Library Thing, etc., the rating system we should be consistent. This it part of why I’ve been struggling with this issue.

    • Oh, geez.. so not only is rating important, but also EXPLAINING the rating! AHHHHHHHH LOL It’s interesting to see how many readers like and appreciate reviews with ratings. I have to give it more thought.

    • That’s another reason why I don’t. How can I rate Jane Eyre and Shopaholic the same? Although I love them both.

  17. I have a shelf over at shelfari and I do rate books there, on a 1-5 system. If it’s a 5, I really thought it was wonderful and recommend it any chance I get. I do find that I tend to rate a lot of 3s and 4s – 3s are okay but I doubt I’d recommend them to a friend. It’s tough.
    As I’ve shared my reading on my blog, I find that I haven’t been rating the books. I’ve more been giving a book report. : )
    I do pay attention to the ratings of someone whose tastes and opinions I respect.
    Guess I didn’t answer your question at all, did I? I’d give my answer a 3.

    • LOL I like how you rated your comment! Too funny. I agree that my biggest problem would be rating everything a 4, or an 88, or an 8.5.. very good, but always room for improvement.

  18. As others have stated, rating systems usually don’t grab my attention unless they are at either end of the spectrum. I know I tend to want to know the reasons behind someone saying they “loved” the book, or “hated” it. Besides that, I like to simply see what people think of a book (good and bad), and then if I’m really interested, I might go find a couple more reviews before searching the book out.

    Interesting side note though. I will admit to purchasing books on the fly if I’ve noted that a book has had MANY two-thumbs-up sort of ratings. I recently bought a book off of because it had over 150 people, averaging out to 4.5 stars. I know it sounds lame, but I do fall victim to peer pressure! 🙂

    • Becky, lame or not I have done the same thing! Also, I personally don’t pay attention to individual ratings unless like you are said they are at either end of the spectrum. Thanks for the comment.

  19. Trish – And here I was feeling all special! 😉

    I also wanted to say that a lot of my ratings fall into the 3-5 range, and I do think that’s because I’m pretty good at choosing books that I know I will enjoy.

  20. That’s a tough one. I want Trish to read my reviews (LOL!), but I haven’t rated my books on my site. I do on LibraryThing because the field is there. I find a lot of 3.5s and 4s. I’m just not sure what that says. I also want people to read my reviews and my concern is that they’ll see a 3.5 and not bother.

    I don’t necessarily pay attention to anyone else’s rating either. What does a 3 say exactly? I do think there is merit in a rating system of more than 5. Anyway, I’m middle of the road. I think some valid points have been made for a rating system. I’m nearly 160 reviews in. It would be awfully hard to go back and add a rating to each and every one. is it too late to start now? I don’t know. I’ll be curious to see what you decide, Lisa.

    • Hi Jen, yeah I would never attempt to go back and rate all the reviews I’ve already done. IF I decide to start rating it will be from that point forward with no going back. I do rate on LT and amazon just because the field is there, same as you, but again.. lots of 4s.

  21. I’m strongly pro rating. Most often blog reviews that lack it, aren’t reviews…just book reports. More this is what happened vs a critque of where a book fits with it’s peers/ whether you think it’s

    Of course perspective varies from individual to individual, but there’s no better way to give your readers a concise opinion that “book X is of higher quality than book G but lower quality than book L”. Other wise it’s possible to assume if you expressed liking 3 different books in reviews alone, that you liked them equally…which is rarely the case.

    It’ s more likely that :

    you liked ‘Twilight’ somewhat more than …’Chosen’ but a little less than…’Blood & Chocolate’. I guess one could clarify all that in the reviews, but it would be pretty exhausting (if your going to write a section in every review comparing a novel to every novel you’ve reviewed so far in the genre).

    Personally, I use letter grades, because we all have the innate understanding left over from grade school, that B is very good and D not so much = ). Whatever grading system used though, the key is having descriptive and clear grade definitions.

    IMO 2 blogs with the best sort are :Book Smugglers & Book Binge With classifications so specific, Thea would be hard pressed to end up with a bunch of 9’s , because lets face it all books aren’t created equal, grades just aptly illustrate that. = )


    • HI Mistress, really interesting comment. Thanks for your thoughts. I guess my reviews must be more like book reports, i.e. this is what the book is about- but also this is what worked and what didn’t- which I guess is what makes it a review, correct? But using your example about expressing liking three different books in reviews alone, someone might think I liked them equally- what if I’d given them all a ‘4’ rating- that must mean I liked them equally too, but like you said-that is rarely the case. I think I could state the differences in the books BETTER in a review than with a rating. I might love two books and rate them both with my highest rating, but does that make them equal? Of course not. I’ll check out the blogs you reference and see how they do it, but at the moment I think I’m leaning towards not rating at all.

  22. I don’t do ratings on my blog, but for the few reviews I have done on Library Thing, I have (like Jennifer said, because the field is there).

    If a blogger has a rating system that they feel comfortable with, then keep doing it. I can see from the comments here that there are many rating systems aside from the typical five-star one.

    If I decide to read (or add to the TBR pile) a book based on a review, it is more due to whether the review made me feel that the book was one I would want to read, rather than a number or stars.

  23. I usually love a book or hate it, and it’s pretty clear from my review. If I think it isn’t clear (like I thought the book was 3-ish), then I’ll put 3/5 at the bottom. But generally I have trouble myself figuring out what the numbers mean – should a very fun but inconsequential book have the same rating as a heavy but classic? It’s all a mystery to me.

  24. Nope, no can do. Other than the occasional two thumbs up, I avoid rating a book like the plague. I also don’t pay much attention to other peoples ratings. Reviews, yes. Ratings, no.

    I rate them on Goodreads, and then I week later I wonder what the heck I was thinking. I think a lot of that is because I can give 5 stars to Half of a Yellow Sun, and 5 stars to Looking for Alaska…but for totally different reasons. I think books are fantastic for entirely different reasons…and I also can be exceptionally critical of certain books that I otherwise like. If that makes sense. And my favorites also change depending on my mood. So really, I’m too fickle to have any faith in myself when it comes to rating a book.

    Also, it reminds me of grading papers when I was a teacher, and I don’t like those memories.

    • I am the same way. Why am I not surprised? I give stars on LT or even on FB and then later think, seriously? 5 stars for that? That usually happens shortly after I’ve read a really good book, and I’ll question my sanity on my star-giving of other books. Does this make any sense at all??

  25. ( oops the first part of my comment submitted on it’s own, and squashed some parts and left out others. Lol so here’s the rest)

    quick correction: the above was supposed to read *than a “a thoughtful critique of where a book fits with it’s peers/ a opinion whether it’s worth the time and $ for the reading experience it offers”. So as a reader there are very few blogs that meet my standards that don’t rate, but it’s possible & do a great job of reviewing sans ratings.

    re: difficulty grading
    Very rarely, my grading is basically the combination of my gut feelings about the book after I read it and pro’s and cons in the execution of the story, I address in my review ( character inconsistencies, wonky dialogue example: casual modern slang use in a historical romance, plot flow, originality, etc.). I find having past grades works as a checks and balance for myself, because it forces be to mentally compare to abide the standard/curve. If I liked this a lot ,was it as really as Brilliant as Grey Walker ?or if it sucked… is it really Breaking Dawn level horrible?

    re: half points
    Not really, I mean I have minus grades included in system, but they have their own meanings; but grade improvising on the spot, no.

    re: do I feel the need to revise later
    No & Yes.I don’t suffer from grade regret, lol. The times I do have trouble grading a book, is when my current definitions don’t fit quite what I’d like to express for this particular sort of book; and I look into tweaking my grade system. Which we’re doing on the blog now for the first time. Most aspects about our blogs are trial and error to see what works. After the improvements we’ll revisit the prior reviews briefly.

    No idea if any of this info will help though. Good luck with your decision making.

    • No, really, it helps a lot! Although I think I’m leaning the other way at this point. It all seems a bit like trying to nail jello to the wall.

  26. Another problem with ratings is not only that one person’s 3 might be another’s 4, but also, the scale itself is arbitrary. How much “distance” is between 3 and 4? For example, the restaurant guide in our local paper rates 0-5 stars. A lot of time I’ll see that a restaurant had gotten 2 stars, and I’ll think, wow, that must have been bad, but that I re-read the key to the ratings and remember that 2 is “very good.” It’s hard to tell what a rating means.

    • Oooo really good point, Matthew. How much distance is there between 3 and 4? That’s probably why you see all these wonky 4.25 ratings, LOL.

  27. I also wanted to bring up the example of The Blue Notebook, since I know you read it also and gave it a high rating. For me, I thought it was an important book, but I had to force myself through it. So what does that mean in terms of rating? I can articulate those sentiments, but I don’t think I could force them into a number!

    • sorry- I meant a non-numerical high rating!

    • Yes, exactly! Although since I don’t rate, I didn’t give it any rating. But I thought it was very powerful and moving and I did express that in my review. Parts of it were very difficult to read due to the subject matter, but man- the writing was good. You made an excellent point.

  28. Ratings are clearly an imperfect system, but I like to see how other readers perceive a book. As a reader, I’m definitely not going to hold you to a rating. It’s just a nice shorthand.

    I use a five-star system, and I rate based on how I feel at the time I read a book. I try not to change ratings unless it is based on a rereading.

    I laughed at the fear that you’ll give everything a four. Four is definitely the most popular rating I give. But, I still give threes and fives often and sometimes even twos and ones.

    Good luck with your decision.

  29. My thoughts match with what Mistress wrote already. I rate my books on the grade scale of A to F, but lately I’ve been considering about stopping the rating scheme altogether. I’m just not sure who benefits from the grade. I have heard from a few people that they pick up a book I reviewed because I gave it an A grade, but I’m not sure if they actually read the review or just scanned for the grade.

    I think if the rating scheme is going to be used then the scale should be clearly defined either in the review or on the about page. The reader should know what the exact criteria is for a book to be rated as a 2 or a 3, or an A or a B.

  30. My ratings aren’t for my readers; they’re for me. I use a zero to five scale, but I appreciate the ratings because they’re immediate reminders of how I felt about a certain book, why I didn’t read any more by that specific author.

    Sometimes I have trouble deciding what rating, especially when I know a friend who gave me the book reads my blog and is looking forward to this post. However, I always take a deep breath and go with what I want to rate the book. These are reminders for me, and I have a policy with myself that I won’t pad books I receive from authors/publishers, so friends can’t be any different.

    I’ve only have two instances where I’ve wanted to go back and change a rating, but I don’t. If my original inclination is to give a book a three, then I should stick with it. Five books later, I’m not in the same frame of mind — the book is not as fresh on my brain — when I finished it.

    No half points. For the same reason I don’t do 1-100, what’s the difference between a 4.25 and a 4.5? What’s the difference between an 88 and an 89? There’s a big, clear difference between a 4 and a five. At least, there is in my mind.

    Personally, I find it helpful when a reviewer uses a rating system. I don’t remember every detail of why someone did or didn’t like a book, but sometimes I find myself say at the library or bookstore, “So-and-so gave this a five.”

    • Christina, actually I have thought about rating them just for me, so that I can look back on the year and make a ‘best of’ list easily. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  31. i do give ratings–bookmarks–on a scale of 1-5. i am honest with my reviews (but of course they are subjective). i like to think that my rating will give the reader a head’s up about what to expect in the written review.

    i don’t find it difficult to give a lower score, regardless of how i obtain the book…but i wouldn never give a ZERO because every book has merit even if i didn’t enjoy it.

    ps. i’m looking forward to reading the book you reviewed yesterday–paris, here i come!

  32. Opps, forgot this…

    Of the 198 books I’ve reviewed, I’ve given:

    13 zeros
    25 ones
    35 twos
    33 threes
    52 fours
    40 fives

    So, yes, I have given more books a four than a five or a three, but it isn’t by that much.

    • Oh, thanks Christina! This is a nice visual for me, and I’m kinda floored that you give zeros. Wow, zeros? Like, worthless? And 13 of them? Wow. I don’t know if I’ve ever reviewed a zero. I can think of a single time I reviewed what I might consider a “one”. I think if a book truly felt like a zero to me, I wouldn’t finish it or review it.

      • A zero is a book I didn’t finish. For me a zero means unratable because I either couldn’t finish a book or couldn’t understand what the book was trying to say.

  33. I really like rating books. It helps me keep perspective in my own little reading world. I know that a 5-star book is a great one and a 4-star is pretty darn good.
    I like when others rate theirs too.
    Keeps things simple. I like at-a-glace, cut and dry ratings.

  34. Yes, please rate.

    It’s silly (imo) to say one person’s 3 might be another person’s 4 as a reason not to rate. Well yes and one person’s positive review might someone else’s mediocre review.

    I think ratings give a clear picture of what the reviewer thought. I used to not rate, but then I decided to try and I’ve really liked the way I’ve had to think about it. Is it a perfect science? No way! It is completely subjective. But I think readers can really tell what you think of a book by your rating.

    I decided to implement it when I realized how much I myself looked for it other blogs.

    I use that quarter star system that Kingrat ridiculed, but it works for me.

    • Hi my friend, how are you? I was thinking maybe we could go to a book signing together at Vromanns in Pasadena (David Ebershoff) since he’s my client and you’re on the tour.. let me know!

      I see what you mean.. that the rating is a picture of what that reviewer thought. Totally subjective and dependent on mood, circumstance, whatever. I guess if someone reads you regularly they would know what YOU consider a 4 or a 4.25, or whatever. Still thinking..

      Thanks for your opinion!

  35. Every so often I debate about rating. I can see why people like it. It’s a first glance picture tat tells people what to expect. It’s like what you would ask about any book or movie. Tell me what it’s about. At times I would like to five that to people, but there are too many subjective factors for me to really narrow down what I thought about a book. I have have different feeling according to genre, I feel differently if I have recently read another of the author’s books and liked it better or worse, I feel differently if I’m hungry and cranky.

    I think too that it really goes by person. Some people seem to be able to quantify and translate the number into something, while I look at a rating and wonder what it means- what made it a 4.25 as opposed to a 4.75?

    Thanks for posing the question. I still go back and forth with this issue, so it’s fun for me to read all the answers.

    • Hi Nicole, it is interesting to see what everyone thinks! I also wonder what could possibly be the difference in a quarter point.. what does that mean? I think I’d have a really difficult time trying to attach a number to a book unless it was one that sucked, or totally blew me away. It’s the ‘in between’ ones (which, let’s face it, are most of them) that I’d have a hard time with. Thanks for the comment.

  36. I didn’t rate when I first started reviewing books, but then someone suggested I should start. I use a 5-point system that includes half and quarter points – it’s fairly consistent with LibraryThing’s star ratings.

    I do look for a rating as a handy way to sum up the reviewer’s impressions, but it’s not a substitute for a review with CONTENT – you know, actual discussion and all that :-).

    • Florinda.. yeah, I have actually seen a few blogs that rate but BARELY review, and I don’t think a rating could ever substitute for a review. I mean, how would you know why the person gave it that particular rating?

  37. I write reviews for two blogs. On my own, I do not give ratings, on the second one I do simply because that was the format agreed upon way before I joined. Personally I do not give ratings because my review should pretty much say it all. I always clearly state what my feelings are about a book. If you bother to read the post beginning to end, you will not need to see the rating. It’s quite redundant I think. I write that i absolutely loved the book and then at the end (or beginning) I give a five star rating (or whatever the top is). Kind of unneccessary, considering that i have just sung praises about the book. Same with all other opinions, if I hate it I write “I hated the book’ or ‘It was okay but not something I’d re-read’. I hope you get my point. I thought that one of the comments saying that a review without a rating isn’t a review is rather strong and unjust.
    With that said, I’m not prejudicial in regards to other bloggers’ way of reviewing. Rating or absence thereof does not bother me or influence my decision to read the review in question or the book being reviewed. Now if I were very lazy, then there is a danger that I’ll just take a look at the rating and not bother with the review at all. I do however enjoy reading reviews and posts on books.

    • Redundant, yes! But there are times when I’ve read a review, and I’m still unclear as to whether the reviewer actually liked the book. Has that ever happened to you? Thanks for stopping by and helping me think this through.

  38. Yes, I rate using a 1-5 scale, but with half points allowed. 🙂

    I rate because that’s what I like when I’m reading a review. Sometimes I don’t have time to read the whole thing and ratings give me a quick way to get the gist of the review so I can then skim if necessary.

    I typically wait a couple days before writing a review, so by then my rating feels right.

    I love ratings when I read reviews (in fact I did a whole post about it myself 🙂 so I vote YES!

    • Hi Kelly,

      I read your post but it made me wonder.. if you don’t have the time to read the review, how do you know why the person rated it with whatever number they gave it? Or maybe it doesn’t matter? I agree it’s good to keep the review relatively short and to the point. I like a succinct summary too. Thanks for the comment.

      • Hi there, I apologize if I’m not understanding your question 🙂 but I’ll try to explain myself a little better.

        I don’t read all reviews. If it’s a book I haven’t heard of before, I probably will only read the review if the reviewer really liked it. If it’s a book I’ve heard of and already formed an opinion of whether I want to read it, I’ll probably only read the review if the reviewer disagrees with my first impression of whether the book’s worth my time. If it’s a book I’ve read before, I’ll probably read the review only to see if the reviewer had a similar opinion and if not, why. Notice how I said “probably” a lot? Haha.

        Anyway, the rating is for me a quick way to find out if the reviewer liked it or not so I can determine if I want to read the rest of the review.

        There’s so many reviews out there, I don’t think it’s possible for any of us to be reading every word of every review that crops up in our RSS reader! 😉

  39. I do rate books on LibraryThing, but don’t rate them on my blog. I have the same experience as Jill and you with the ratings–I’ll see that I rated a book a 3 1/2 and think, “That’s funny, I thought I really liked that one,” or, “I hate even thinking about that book. I gave it a 3 1/2?!”

    There are some people whose ratings I’m interested in and others who I just skip because they make no sense to me. Sometimes I’m mystified because the rating doesn’t reflect what the text of the review said to me.

    • Ali, YES! That has happened to me on several occasions. I’ll read a review and think, wow this person really didn’t like this book, and then they’ll give it a high rating! Ok… this makes no sense to me! Thanks for the comment.

  40. HA! It appears that people have strong opinions about rating.

    A 1-5 system is woefully inadequate. You’ll find yourself giving 4s to two books that were comPLETEly different in goodness. Sometimes I find a 1-10 system inadequate, but I feel like upping it to 100 would be, for me, splitting hairs (tiny, caterpillar hairs).

    I love ratings because most reviews say This was good and this was bad, and the rating lets me know if the good outweighed the bad or vice versa. Or if *gasp* I don’t have time to read the review. It’s like the cole’s notes of reviewing.

    And about it being subjective, that’s what book reviewing IS! Which is part of the reason I do caterpillars instead of stars or something more standardized, because it IS so subjective. So on the Scale of Raych, this or that book will get a 7, or whatever. And I always look back and think, Really? 7? I hated that book. But the rating stands, because that’s how I felt about it at the time and if I start going back and changing things, I’ll just make myself crazy.

    • Hey Raych! Yes, opinions are like.. uh.. fingerprints.. Yeah, that’s it. Anyway! Thanks for weighing in on this. I agree, 1-5 isn’t sufficient- I know I’d be doing the .25 thing All The Time. 1-10 might be better, 1-100 is maybe a bit much. I’m glad to hear that you question your ratings after the fact but don’t change them. Do you have an explanation of the caterpillar system on your About page or somewhere? Seems people want explanations. Geez these demanding readers!!! LOL

  41. Well, I feel like I’m a little bit late to this party, but here’s my .02 –

    I do use a rating system, that I shamefully stole from a friend years and years ago. I actually have it posted at the bottom of my blog. It’s a 1-10 system, and each point has an explanation. (for example, a 7 is “It didn’t break my heart to return it to the library, but it was still pretty darn good.”) I use it because it helps ME summarize my final impression about the book. Frankly, I don’t care if other people notice my rating or not, because it’s there for me, not them.

  42. Damn this post got a lot of responses!! WOW!

    I use the 1-5 rating system and use .5’s as well. If I love love love it it gets a five and I usually know at least half way through reading the book if it’s getting a five. If I loved it but it didn’t hit me like a train all the way through then it gets a 4.5 and if I really enjoyed it but since I don’t give out fives that easily it will get a four. As the books get duller or disappointing the rating obviously dips into the threes and I have (as far as I can remember) only given one book a one so far in my book blogging/reviewing “career” and that was SAIL by James Patterson. Terrible.

  43. I write my blog for fun, and it wouldn’t be a change from teaching my college literature classes if I had to grade or rate the books I review.

    If you want to know what I think of a book, you have to read every word I say. There’s no good shortcut. (Trish!)

  44. I have a hard time rating books on a scale but I do like to have one. I think that a scale of only 1-5 is not enough. I’m forever adding a note in my reviews that I would rate something as more of a 3.5 than a 3, for example. But I do want reviewers to have a review with the rating so I can see the reason for the rating and still be able to make my own opinion based on all info. I do wish bloggers would review books they don’t like as well–a total absence of reviews doesn’t tell me that the book was bad, it just looks like no one has read it.

  45. Yes, I rate the books. I use a 1-5 scale, and it’s broken down in several places on my blog, so readers can see exactly what my numbers mean. I think it’s useful because if someone wants to see what are all the books I thought were great, they only have to click on the “1/5” on the sidebar, and they all come up. What if you want to see all the book I thought were just okay, or gave up on? same thing. Sometimes it’s difficult to decide on a rating. Mostly I do it for myself, to remember at a glance how well I liked a book.

  46. Personally, I love a rating system and think it really adds to a review. I don’t use one because I feel a bit like you, everything would be a 4, unless I really hated the book. I will be interested to see what you decide to do about including ratings on your reviews, good luck!

  47. I never rated my books until last year..and then I started receiving an overwhelming number of requests for a rating scheme.. So at the end of the year, I sat down and rated all the books I had read that year in relation to each other.. and i found that it worked better.. I now rate a book as soon as I read it.. but I change the ratings at the end of the month in comparison to the other books and I am sure I’ll change some at the end of the year..when I compare all the books I’ve read this year!

  48. I don’t rate books, either. I just don’t review anything unless I was impressed with it in some way. It would be hard for me to differentiate between how well the book was written and whether it suited my personal tastes.

    I do LibraryThing and Goodreads, and I very rarely put any stars on my books there, either, unless I was just amazed by them.

  49. Lisa,

    I don’t use a rating system – I do mention if the book is worth reading and discussion worthy. As you know I focus on women’s lit and books for book clubs, I do not have to like a book if there is a lot to discuss.

  50. I’ve been back and forth on rating books and what system to use. I used a 0-5 scale for awhile, but never felt completely comfortable assigning a number rating. I’ve finally stopped the number ratings this March and went with a written rating system of “very highly recommended” to “did not finish”. The words used mean the same thing as when they corresponded to numbers, but I feel more comfortable using them and for some odd reason I feel like I’m more honest in my ratings when using the words.

  51. I do use a rating scale and love when others do as well. To make this part short – I agree with what the pro-rating bloggers expressed. 🙂

    Two personal things I’d like to mention:

    1. I use the description part of my scale to determine the number rating. For example, when I close a book and think or even say out loud – that was an excellent book, I know that I’m looking at a 4.5. If I’m thinking closer to absolutely outstanding, then it would be between a 4.5 to a 5. I do use .25 in my ratings.

    2. In my observations, I have found that ratings give a clearer picture of the reviewer’s thoughts. Numerous times I have run across a fabulous review, then to find they rated it a 3 on LT or GR. WHAT?!? If there’s any gushing going on then I would think a 4 would be the lowest, so I don’t get that. If they had not posted ratings on the other sites, I would have thought they absolutely loved the book. It has worked the other way around – not so great review with a high rating, but not very often.

    After rereading your questions, I’d like to add this – yes, rating books is more difficult if I have not picked the book up on my own. All the other scenarios present varying degrees of apprehension, but 4.75/5 times I don’t let it sway me. 🙂

  52. I do rate my books on reviews based on a 1-5 scale. The reason is that I want to explain how the experience of the book was to me based on my personal life and other books I have read. I do not expect my readers to judge the book based solely on my review and I hope they don’t. I think it is important to read many reviews on the book and then decide for yourself if it is worth the gamble, and it may or may not be. I like seeing a rating just to get a broader sense of how the reviewer felt the book was worth, and then the review will hopefully explain to me what the reviewer’s issues were with the book. They may be issues that make no difference to me (for example, some people are turned off by foul language in a book while I could care less about it). It is important not to base the reading of a book on just one review of it. I hope my reviews give readers a sense of what the book was about, what I felt were its strengths, and perhaps what were its weaknesses, and to give the reader a personal glimpse into my life by saying how the book may have touched me in some way. The review is much more important than the rating, but I think the rating is a helpful extra.

  53. I always rate my books and it’s one of the first things that I look for in other people’s reviews. It’s a quick and easy way to see what you thought of the book.

    For me, it also helps solidify my review. Sometimes I don’t feel I always get all my feelings in a review and the rating helps give a definite value. Most of my ratings fall in the 3-4 range, but that tells me I am doing a good job of picking books I enjoy. I rate on a 1-5 scale but also use half ( and sometimes quarter) stars, so it is really more like a 1-10 scale.

    There have been a few times that I’ve changed ratings. Sometimes as the book settles with me my feelings for it change. But that is also why I wait a little while before I write my reviews.

  54. I don’t rate, except on Goodreads. I do like ratings, however, as I think they can give a good benchmark. Obviously someone’s two might be someone’s five, but it’s a place to start. I wish people would be more open to stating whether a book has excessive profanity or s*x, but I realize those things don’t bother a lot of people, like they do me.

  55. Wow, over 100 posts! Lisa, you’ve started a great discussion here. I have to say that I don’t rate the reviews on my blog as my feelings are similar to yours. It’s very hard to choose a rating system that works across the board. With that said, I do use the rating system at Goodreads as it’s there. This discussion has given me some things to think about. The consensus from those that rate seems to be that they can’t really tell from a review if someone liked a book without a rating.

  56. Problogger just posted on this topic, so I wanted to share it with everyone who commented here: Problogger: Write a ‘Review’ Post

  57. […] Books on the Brain: To Rate, or Not to Rate […]

  58. I rate my books and I like seeing ratings. I am not bothered that one person’s 5 is not the same as another person’s 5. One person’s this is terrific is also not equal to another person’s this is terrific.

    I use school grades because they make sense to me.

  59. My .02 for what it is worth. I do use ratings 1-5 and have explained occasionally what I base this on. The pick up and put down factor works for me. If I can’t put a book down at all and am compelled to keep reading, it is a five. If I can put it down reluctantly but am anxious to get back to it, it is a 4. If I can put it down easily and not rush back to it, even though it IS an enjoyable read, then the rating is a 3. Lower than that, I feel I wasted my time and that could have been better spent. I do like to see ratings on other blogs but in the end, after all is said and done, each blogger must do what is right for them. Great discussion, thanks for posing the question !

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