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.