What do my ratings mean?

21 May

questionsSeeing a question in the subject, you might be expecting an answer here.  But the answer is “I need to decide”.

I need to figure out if my ratings reflect how good a book is, or how much I like a book.

I wish those were the same, but really, I liked Twilight quite a bit.  It really wasn’t good, but I found it enjoyable.  I didn’t like The Visible World at all, even though I could recognize it as being a high quality book with lots of positive characteristics.  Often they coincide, but not always.

Books are rated compared to what type of book they are.  I don’t expect the same complexity of plot in a mystery for kids as for adults.  I expect more characterization but less depth from a romance than a literary novel.

I think for now, my ratings will reflect how much I like a book, with some influence from how high quality it is.  I’ll let the review speak to any differences between those.

After all, there is only so much that one number can tell you.

If you rate books, what do your ratings mean?  What would you like to see?


Posted by on May 21, 2009 in blogging


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11 responses to “What do my ratings mean?

  1. Yondalla

    May 21, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    That’s the same problem I have with reviewing books on Goodreads!

    I want two categories: entertainment value and literary value.

    The profs around here are passing around “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” They love it. However, no one is actually reading it. The love pretending they are reading it, looking at the pictures, and find the book club study questions hilarious. There is a push to convince everyone to buy it and keep it in some prominent place so all the students will think it is great literature.

    You really know it is the end of the semester when profs are laughing over lunch plotting conspiratorial pranks on the student body.

    • imbookingit

      May 22, 2009 at 11:07 am

      Entertainment and literary value would be a good breakdown, although the “like it” factor isn’t straight entertainment– it is whether the literary aspects resonate with me.

      LOL on “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. I can relate– I love the idea, but am not really interested in reading it. I like the idea of end of semester plotting.

  2. Yondalla

    May 21, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    not sure why that story seemed relevant, but it is the end of the semester and the my brain is going.

  3. Callista

    May 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Hmm I don’t know. I think my rating is a mixture of both. I usually explain a bit about why I chose that rating in my review too. I don’t find that I have a discrpency between liking a book and it being a well-written book very often, but then I read mainly non-fiction.

    • imbookingit

      May 22, 2009 at 11:55 am

      Thanks. I’ve just had a run recently where there is at least a full star between the liking a book and the quality of it. Hopefully it returns to a higher correlation soon!

  4. Tina Kubala

    May 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    It’s a great question. I doubt anyone can be totally objective in any review. The logical answer is to be aware of both aspects in a review.

    I felt about the same as you about Twilight. I enjoyed the stories even while judging the writing and other issues. I’m glad I read them, but I’ll never read them again

  5. J. Kaye

    May 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    I found out a couple of years ago, I am too emotionally unstable to use my feelings as a means to rate a book. Totally embarrassing, but true. I use a very simplistic method. My system is here:

    Many reviewers mark off a star for typos. I read so many ARCs, that I can’t do that – not that I am really good at catching those anyway. 😉

    • imbookingit

      May 22, 2009 at 12:07 pm

      I’m quite intrigued by your system! Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Britt

    May 21, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Stars are simply how much I liked it. I’ll overlook bad editing or so-so writing for a good enough story, but I’ll tell you that in the review.

    I like to give 5 stars. Maybe too much. But that’s just the way I am. 😀

    • imbookingit

      May 22, 2009 at 12:10 pm

      LOL. I feel very protective of my 5 star ratings, and think a book needs to be VERY special to get one. I like to give 4 stars. I’m disappointed when I need to give a book only 3 stars, even though it is still a respectable rating. I try to avoid books that I would give 1-2 stars, but if I make my way through a book that deserves it, I’m usually mad/disappointed/disgusted enough not to mind.

  7. bcomquest

    May 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    I know what you mean…the five star system is not all that accurate. In addition to goodreads and shelfari I have been using a site called and find that the reviews on authors and books are really good and much more meaningful than a five star rating.


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