Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Star Rating System

My book rating system is pretty little loosey goosey.  I don't include star ratings on my reviews, only on my annual list of books read that year.  This means that I sit down at the end of the year and decide how many stars to give each book, even books that I read months and months ago.  Under this system, a book may do better or worse, depending on how it has lingered in my mind since I read it.

This is a subjective rating system, based on my likes and dislikes, although my subjective judgment usually correlates to objective criteria. That is, if a book is poorly written, has clunky dialog, flat characters, or plot flaws, I am probably not going to like it and will give it a low rating. On the other hand, if a book is technically good and I enjoy it, I will give it a high rating.

These subjective and objective notions meet in a muddled middle in my 3/5 rating. I give a lot of books 3/5, either because I was entertained and glad to have read them, but did not think they were all that well-written, or because I thought the book was excellent from an objective standpoint, but I did not care for it personally (most Henry James novels come to mind). 

I also rate a lot of books 3.5/5, which means that I liked it and would recommend it to certain people who I think would enjoy it, usually because they like that genre or type of book, but I would not make a general recommendation.

Otherwise, half a point added means my judgment is on the borderline.

With those general ideas in mind:
  • 5/5 means it is an all-time favorite, but I rarely give anything five stars; 
  • 4/5 means I liked it and either would recommend it generally, or at least think it worthy of general recommendation, even if no one takes me up on it; 
  • 3/5 means either that I enjoyed it for what it was or think it is a "good" book, but would probably not recommend it; 
  • 2/5 means I did not like it; and 
  • 1/5 means I really, really disliked it. 

No rating does not mean 0/5. It just means that I read the book too long ago to remember it enough to rate it, I am not qualified to rate it (poetry, for instance) or I simply forgot to rate it.


  1. Gilion, I've never rated books in my reviews. I just recommend them or not, depending on my assessment. Your post makes me think perhaps I should think of my own rating system to further indicate whether I think others would like the book or not. Thanks for delineating your system for us.

  2. I have been thinking about rating books on my blog. I do it on Goodreads for my own personal use. But I do find that I sometimes change my mind months later... so not sure I want to rate them right away. The idea of waiting until the end of the year round up is interesting.


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