Sunday, February 17, 2019

How I Rate Books

Everyone rates books differently, and I want to talk about my method for how I rate books.

I use the five-star rating system, and I rate books based on how much I personally enjoy them and connect with the story. If I read a critically acclaimed novel that everyone seems to love that I'm not connecting with but I can see why other people would love it, I'm most likely going to give it a lower rating because it wasn't a book for me, and I'm not rating books based on how anyone else would like them but on how I like them. But if I can see reasons why a different audience might like a book that I'm just not interested in, I'll at least mention the good aspects in my review despite my lower rating. I always strive to be fair in my ratings and reviews.

Here is my reading scale: 
Favorite     5-stars     4-stars     3-stars     2-stars     1-star     Did-Not-Finish

So for how I rate books, I start every book with a three-star rating in mind. Three stars is the middle of the scale, and by starting each book with that rating, I'm giving every book a fair chance.

What I do is if I read a book and nothing jumps out at me as being good or nothing jumps out at me as being bad, if the book feels middle-of-the-road or average, or if I liked the book but thought it was nothing special, I keep it at three stars.

If I'm reading a book and I'm just not connecting with the characters, I'm confused by the plot, I don't like the writing style, I'm having an issue with how something was talked about or handled, or I'm becoming uninterested in continuing on with the story, I will lower my rating to two stars. If these problems become even worse or the book just starts to downright frustrate or anger me, I will lower the rating again to one star. If I feel yet again like these problems continue and there is no redemption and I am just wasting my time reading the book, I will mark it as did-not-finish.

A note about not finishing books: I very rarely decide to put a book down and not continue reading it. Most of the books I haven't finished in the past were because my library hold expired and I was busy and never got around to finishing the book, or because the story really wasn't holding my interest even if there was nothing that I explicitly disliked (read: I was bored). There have been only a very small handful of titles that I did not finish because I truly disliked the books and the thought of reading them just made me dread reading anything at all. I try to finish all the books I start, and I generally only read books I think I'm going to enjoy anyway, but every so often I need to permanently put down a book.

Now as for the higher ratings, whenever I'm reading a book and I start to like the writing, the characters, the flow of the story, whenever something sticks out in my mind, I will move my rating to four stars. This is my most common rating. Then if I keep reading and I become further impressed by some aspect of the story that really stands out to me, or I feel like I literally cannot put the book down (this is actually quite rare for me), or I just love everything about the story, I will bump my rating up again to five stars. Then, if a five-star book keeps blowing my mind and keeps me utterly obsessed about the story, even long after I finish it, and it's a book I know I'll want to read again and again, it becomes one of my favorite books. (I have a favorites shelf on Goodreads, and at the time of writing this post, there are only 18 books on that shelf.)

Sometimes a book will start out going downhill to two stars but then work its way back up to three stars and occasionally even up to four stars. Usually if this is the case, I will rate the book three stars because that is the average rating for my reading experience with that book. Sometimes I will also give half stars to books, although since Goodreads doesn't allow half stars, this is uncommon and only noted in my reviews on this blog. I use a half star if I feel that the one rating is too low but the next rating is too high, that there was just enough of something in the book to keep me from rating it one way or the other. On Goodreads, though, I am forced to select a full-star rating, so I choose whichever one I think most closely reflects my feelings for that book.

There's the breakdown for how I rate books. I start at three stars and work my way up or down the scale, depending on how my reading experience goes. I know my system is a bit different from how I've seen others rate books, but it's the system that works the best for how my mind works.

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