Ratings: What They Mean To Me

June 13, 2013 Random Thoughts on Books and Blogging 13


Random Thoughts on Books is my opportunity to discuss my bookish thoughts.

Last week I discussed The Good, The Bad and The Confusing of ratings. Ratings are complex and personal and can be very difficult to define. In order to get a better handle on my own ratings I’ve come up with some “standards” and I’ve also decided to stop immediately rating a book and waiting until I write my review because that’s when I have a better handle on my feelings for the book.

0 Stars

Zero star books would be books that I DNF for whatever reason I choose to DNF them for.

1 Star

One star books are books I finished, but didn’t like at all. One star books may have any of the following characteristics: huge gaping plot holes, characters that do things that don’t make any sense in relation to the story or to what I feel is common sense or characters that just piss me off, very poor writing. One star books are books that I probably should have DNF’d but for whatever reason I decided not to do so.

2 Stars

Two star books are “ok.” Two star  have to be decently written with characters and a plot that I like. They are books that I feel I wouldn’t be missing anything if I hadn’t read it, but that I don’t regret reading either.

3 Stars

Three star books are “good.” In addition to the qualifications for 2 star books, I have to more than like either the characters or the plot. It can have strong characters with a weak plot or a strong plot with weak characters, but one of them has to be strong. I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend the book to people who had a particular interest in those type of books. Three star books have to be well written without a plethora of noticeable grammatical errors/sentence structure issues (note: I am terrible at grammar so if I notice it, it must be really bad).

4 Stars

In addition to the 3 star qualifications 4 star books should have strong characters/plot. I would recommend a 4 star book to any reader and quite a few non-readers. Four star books keep me engaged and are entertaining. They are hard to put down, though they usually have some fatal flaw that keeps me from handing out the full 5 stars.

5 Stars

Five star books are the best of the best. In addition to the 4 star qualifications the book will be one that I know I want to reread. If I don’t get that rereading feeling, it can’t be a five star book. Five star books will have strong plots and characters, both of which I love. They are not only entertaining and engaging but they are the kind of book that will cause a loss of sleep due to the fact that I can’t stop reading.


It’s hard to pinpoint ratings more specifically because each genre is a little different, but these standards can apply across all genres. Let me know what you think!



13 Responses to “Ratings: What They Mean To Me”

    • Kimberly

      Ratings are very difficult. Especially because there are usually feelings involved and feelings change all the time!

  1. Jessie Marie

    Love your explanations, particularly when you mentioned the rereadability and how your three star reads are those you would recommend, but only to a particular subset of people. I think I, personally, dole out 5 star ratings too often. As much as I would like to attribute that to lucky in my reading, I think I go too easy sometimes.
    Jessie Marie recently posted…Moonglass by Jessi KirbyMy Profile

    • Kimberly

      I feel the same, I give away 5 stars too freely sometimes, especially when I am excited about a book.

  2. Kate- Midnight Book Girl

    I agree with everything! Although my 4 star reviews aren’t necessarily books I’d recommend to all my reading friends, since a lot of times what works for me in a book won’t work for other readers I know.

    I agree, one star reads are books that should have been DNFed, but sometimes it’s like slowing down to look at a car crash. You don’t really want to see the bloody, mangled body, but you just can’t help yourself from looking.
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    • Kimberly

      That’s exactly what one star books are. The train wreck you can’t possibly look away from!

  3. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Genres do make ratings sort of tricky. I mean I might have P&P on one hand and want to rate that five stars, and the Newsflesh trilogy over here also rated five stars, and perhaps my favorite romance novel (maybe a Jennifer Crusie) rated five stars. Are those all the same? Are they all the same amount of good? Probably not, but they’re perfect for what they are, I guess.

    I’m constantly sort of redefining my ratings to myself and arguing with myself about what a book deserves. Time does help. I was deciding between 4.5 and 5 for one last night, and time clarified that for me.
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    • Kimberly

      It’s really hard to compare across genres for sure, because I’m always looking for different things.

      Waiting to rate a book has already helped me, it takes off that initial excitement of finishing a book and helps me focus more on the rest of the stuff.

  4. fakesteph

    Yes, I love that you are describing a system that goes across genre. I know I’ve talked in the past about my ratings being a mix of how much I enjoyed a book and how much the book lived up to its potential. I try to judge a book by what it is trying to be and less on what I wanted it to be. Great post! :)
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    • Kimberly

      It’s hard not to rate a book in part on what you wanted it to be, expectations are always in the back of my head but I’m trying harder to be more definitive in what I’m rating books on so I’m not all over the place.

  5. Hannah

    I feel like I should be more discerning with my own ratings. I think I end up giving a higher rating than warranted, almost as if I think I might hurt the author’s feelings… think it may be the Brit in me!

    And I’ve definitely found that waiting at least a day or two before writing a review is good. What I think immediately after often changes a few days later…

    Love these Thoughts posts :D
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  6. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

    Great posts (this one and the first post about ratings)! It’s cool to see how other people rate books. I have a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings and while it does seem like too many, I do realize that I usually read things that I know I’m going to like.

    Oh, and yes, expectations have SO much to do with how we feel about books and eventually how we, as reviewers, rate them. Like with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer–I was expecting to LOVE that book, so maybe I was a bit off when I ended up giving it 1 star.

    But I agree, sometimes you have to step back a bit before you can make that call. I always take notes when I read, and at the end of my notes, when I finish a book, I put something like “4 stars? Maybe 4.5?” and then when I write the review I make my final decision. But don’t wait too long, because then the other books that you’ve read between finishing that book and writing the review will skew your ratings. For instance, I look back at the ratings I gave to the Twilight series, and I’m like, “Really? I gave them THAT HIGH of ratings?” But I have to remember that I really enjoyed those books when I read them. I wouldn’t say I love them now, and even then I didn’t think they were the best things ever, but I enjoyed them. So I don’t go back and change my ratings because like you said in your other post, your reading habits and preferences are going to change, but that doesn’t make your past habits and preferences invalid.
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