Books I Struggled to Rate

Sometimes, as soon as I finish a book, I instantaneously know how many stars I’m going to award it. Other times, to choose one from only five numbers becomes a hugely challenging task. My main difficulty, so far, has been deciding whether some books were 3 or 4-star reads. There was also an instance when I was unsure whether a book deserved a 2 or a 3-star rating.  However, I’ve never had indecisions involving possible 5-star reads – those are just faultless books in my eyes, easy!

Since I’ve started this blog, the following books were the ones that I remember struggling the most to rate.

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

In All the Light We Cannot See, readers are introduced to the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner, whose lives are deeply affected by the events of the Second World War. The overall story is quite inspiring, and I really appreciated the ending. However, I didn’t immediately connect with the characters, mainly because of the structure of the book, which felt too fragmented. I was unsure whether to rate it with 3 or 4 stars. I ended up going for a 4-star rating and now feel like it was the right choice. Continue reading

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. Continue reading