Saturday, 27 August 2011

To Rate or Not to Rate?

So, I've noticed that the first thing I look for on a review is a rating. A group of paragraphs can tell me a lot but how the book compares to others and whether or not it's one of those READ OR DIE books is harder. I've read reviews that make the reviewer seem crazy for a particular title and then I'll look at the rating and, what?! A three out of five? Knowing how a book rates on a set scale is actually really nice (not to mention convenient) when I'm browsing on Goodreads.

All of this, and yet I don't rate books in my own reviews.
There is a reason for this other than the fact that I'm lazy. Off the top of my head, I can say that Divergent by Veronica Roth would be a five stars for me. I loved it, couldn't put it down. At the same time though, if five is the highest on the scale (as it normally is) wouldn't say, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, earn a five out of five? Great. Awesome. Harry Potter, 100%! But... does my brain consider Divergent and Harry Potter to be on the same level? Heck no. No offence meant to Divergent at all - I loved you! - but c'mon, it's Harry Potter. I am so biased it's not even funny.
Now, I'm not saying that this would be a major problem. Everyone here probably understands that my love for Harry Potter is like no other and chances are, I'm not going to run into another series like that one.
That's really the Big Deal about book ratings though. Not all three-stars would be equal in my mind. Maybe that's not such a huge thing though, I don't know. I've been going over some books in my head and I definitely could rate them if I tried (I'd probably like my half stars though LOL).
So now I thought I would ask you! I'll post a poll in the side bar (right at the top) and if you could vote on it, I would really appreciate it!


  1. This is EXACTLY how I feel! I don't like rating a book because not all 5 stars are the same, like how you described with Divergent/HP (which I both freaking love, but nothing can ever compete with HP). I've been trying to rethink my ratings system, maybe by having a definite meaning for certain stars might help netter.

    But to answer your question, yes do rate LOL. For the same reason you mentioned in your post - it's also the first thing I look for in a review, then I go back and read what's been written. I sometimes mentally chastise you for not having them :P

  2. I get what you mean - especially about HP. And not all 3 stars or 5 stars are the same to me either, but I definitely think rating systems are useful to have. I rely on them so much when I'm on Goodreads!

  3. I definitely get how it'd be hard to use a rating system on your part -- the Divergent/HP example summed it up perfectly. Still, I think a rating system would be awesome. It still shows a potential reader whether you liked it or not, and to what degree. If the reader had to compare reviews of two different books and say, "They were both great, but I think this one was *greater*," it wouldn't be the end of the world.

    I dunno, that's just how I feel. Maybe every once in a while a book deserves six stars out of five? (;

  4. I'd go crazy without ratings. True, I don't feel the same way about every book I give 3 or 4 stars too, but they're super great when it comes to organizing. Also, when I'm about to read a review I like to see a rating because I prefer to know if the review I'm about to read is negative or positive.

  5. Joy: I like that sureness ;) Thanks!

    Brodie: Uh-oh. Musn't be chastised by Mother Hen Brodie :O

    Liz: It's because of GR that I noticed! I mentally glare at those people that don't rate and then I'm like... wait. I'M one of those people.

    Jenna: Good point. Honestly, I think the pros of having a rating system outweigh the cons, so I'll probably end up instating one anyways. I'd like to see what people think in the poll though :)

    RIGHT. So, Divergent gets five stars and Harry Potter gets infinity out of five! Done.

    Emily: Definitely keeps them organized. Yes, I do too! Especially if it's a book that I loved and the reviewer hated or vice-versa.

  6. I don't actually use ratings in my reviews, and for that matter I don't even use the ratings on Goodreads. When I think of ratings I always find they can be somewhat misleading. Sure they can be useful in determining if a book is good or not. But at the same time not everyone will feel the same way about it. I know some books that I loved and would rate high that other people didn't like and rated relatively low. My own reasoning in not using ratings is that it allows people to make up their own minds about the book I'm reviewing and hopefully from what I say in those reviews they'll be able to figure out for themselves if the books are worth their time.

    But then again, that's just my opinion.

  7. Overall I'm a fan of rating systems. They're not perfect (at all, actually, haha), but I like the concreteness of a rating. There are a few times it's really hard for me to rate a book, but for the most part I can easily put a number on it. But I totally agree... not all 5 stars are equal, and not all 3 stars are equal either. It can be tough, but I find ratings worth it for some reason.

  8. I personally hate rating books, because it's too difficult to decide what to go with. To use your example, I absolutely loved Divergent and I loved Harry Potter, but it would be weird to give them the same rating, right? I tried doing ratings myself, but I wound up giving a whole lot of fours and fives. I tend to find something redeemable about every book I read, and I can't seem to rate something poorly no matter how hard I try. There's good and bad about almost everything I read.. I hate how black and white a rating system is! So, I personally can't do it. Naturally, I pay more attention to the comments someone has about a book, than the actual rating they give.

  9. I NEEEEED ratings. Reviews in words don't tell me enough. Was it a good 3 star book or a REALLY good 5 star book? When I see no ratings on Google Reader, I get angry/frustrated and click out because I'm leaving without anything that I didn't have before! Unless the review is very positive or very negative, I have no idea what to think. I look at ratings first and look through the review for "back-up points".

    I don't think books with the same rating are necessarily of the same "value". I know in my 5 star list, there are some clear winners! They don't diminish the "goodness" of the other books though.

    *wonders if any of that made sense* Eh. Ratings = Good :)

  10. I use a rating system (and sometimes find it difficult to rate some books) and I too find them to be very helpful when I'm looking for new books to add to my massive wishlist. But I don't exclusively use the rating to decide if I'm going to add a book or not. I totally agree that not all books are created equal and I agree with the example that you used as well.

  11. I use a rating system for a few reasons: 1. to rate books on other outlets (BN, GoodReads, etc), 2. because sometimes, people need to take a quick look (they don't have time for a full review) and 3. because of the concreteness (like Ashely says).

    And though I understand your point, I do feel that... how should I put it... when my blog already has reviews (ranging from 1-5), people have a sense of comparison. For ex: someone could say, Oh, she liked that one as much as this one. Not that I'd ever review Harry Potter, but I just think of it that way.

    However, at the same time, I'm still debating with myself on whether I should continue to use ratings or not XD

    I think I should do a poll too :)

  12. I stopped rating my reviews because I was having such a hard time deciding what warrants a three, four, five. And yes it was hard because one book could be spectacular and rated five and the next could be amazing for totally different reasons.

    I just got rid of ratings and let my reviews speak for themselves. :)

  13. I rate, just because it's easier but I agree it's totally relative. Just b/c I rate say, 3 books 5 star doesn't mean I deem them all to be equally good. They're good for different reasons. I rate each book individually, not what rating they'd get when compared with other books.

    The Cait Files

  14. Isn't it just crazy how much you just described my life? Agree. Agree, agree and agree!
    My solution to that would be (and is) to make the rating system a 1-10 instead of 1-5. It makes it a lot more detailed and you would be able to give HP 10/10 (or 20/10? Your choice.) and, let's say, Divergent 9/10. That sounds a lot better than 4/5, am I right? :)


  15. I totally get you! I don't rate (on the blog though I do on goodreads!) because like you say, Harry potter 5 out of 5 but then again so are a few other books but they just don't compare to Harry Potter in reality! lol

  16. I started rating my reviews so I could put them on goodreads. But know that I do it's harder than I imagined. It's hard to rate books on such a small scale, and not compare them to others. There are times I've wanted to go back and change a review, because what I rated a previous is the same as what I'm rater a new book and they aren't on the same level. Part of me has thought about stopping the actual rating, but for now I'll continue to do it. But basically, I think either one has it's ups and downs and it's all what works best for you.

  17. I personally find rating systems incredibly unhelpful. The reviewer often draws a distinction between 1 star and 2 stars, but frankly, both tell me the book is bad. It doesn't matter that one's worse. Three stars just says the book is neutral, and I probably won't bother to read that either. Then, you probably want to save 5 stars for books that are REALLY deserving--so the only rating you can give a book you think people should read is 4 stars.

    I think ratings can also entice readers to skip your review. If a book is rated one star, it's tempting to think that that says everything, and that reading the actual reasoning behind the rating is superfluous.

    Also, I agree that 5 stars mean different things, particularly if you think certain genres or types of writing are better than others. A children's book can be a 5 star children's book-- but most people would argue it's not on the same level as a 5 star classic.

  18. I voted no. I hate using the star rating on GoodReads! Never do on my own blog :)

  19. I totally have the same problem. Maybe they should start doing 6 stars? Because I feel like hated it, it was okay, liked it, really liked it, and loved it aren't enough. I would add for #6: One of the best books ever!! (Because I have a problem with picking just one favorite, too. :P