A Discussion on Book Ratings

Rating books can be a challenging undertaking. First, we have to decide on which rating system to use and whether to give half stars or not, for example. Then comes what it may be the most complicated part: to rate specific books, mainly ones that we may have contradictory feelings about. Although I always know when a book is a 5-star read, I sometimes struggle to decide whether to rate a book with 3 or 4 stars.

But how important is it to rate books really? In my personal opinion, I see the rating as a complement to the review. By itself the rating doesn’t say much, besides being an attempt to summarise via a number my views on a given book. One of the decisions I made when I started this blog was not to give half stars, although in my head I know when a book is on the verge of the given rating and I try to convey that sentiment in the review. So, to better understand why I decided in favour of a 3 or a 4 star, for instance, it’s important to read the review (which I always try to keep spoiler-free).

The rating system I use is loosely based on the Portuguese school grading from year 5 to year 9, when 5, 4 and 3 are pass marks and 1 and 2 are fail marks. Thus, when I rate a book with 5 stars it means that I loved it. I completely enjoyed reading it and there is nothing I would change about it. I’ve previously written a more detailed post about my views on what makes a book a 5-star read, so I won’t go into details. When I just liked a book, I rate it with 4 stars. This means I consider it a good book overall, although I would change some small things or would have liked if some elements had been more developed. A 3-star book is merely satisfactory. While reading it, I identified both good and bad elements more or less in the same measure, and I usually understand why some people may like it much more than I did.

On the other hand, I rate books with 1 and 2 stars when I’m quite certain I didn’t like them and didn’t see enough positive things about them. So, a 2-star book is one I didn’t enjoy reading, but that I managed to finish, nevertheless, since I hoped it would get better. The 1 star rating is reserved for books that I hated and didn’t finish, because there was nothing good about them at all. I haven’t rated books with neither 1 or 2 stars since starting the blog, mainly because I’m reading more reviews and doing more research before deciding which books to pick up.

I thought about stopping rating books, since I’ve been struggling to do so lately (this usually happens when I have conflicting feelings about them). However, I decided to continue to do so, because I feel it’s a good introduction to a review and in the future the ratings may help me to more easily decide whether to keep certain books on my shelves or not.

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