I’ve been thinking a lot about ratings lately and how much they actually affect my reviews. I feel like my ratings have come to define what I say about a book and I feel the need to explain myself more. Don’t get me wrong, it can be helpful for some to use these ratings to make a quick decision whether or not to read something. But, as someone who takes the time to write down her thoughts about a book, I’d rather you read what I have to say rather than make a judgement call when I rate a book out of five.
Ratings are not, in fact, universal. Readers determine how their rating system works for them and it can be completely different from one person to the next. For example, a three for me means I still liked the book, but there were some things missing, but most seem to misconstrue that as a bad rating. I feel like three-star ratings have been getting a lot of bad rep lately and I’m not sure when ratings started to matter more than reviews themselves.
When I think about what to rate a book, I often find myself reading more critically. Back when I started reviewing books, it was supposed to be fun. I love when people make purchases based on my reviews and that’s what keeps me going. I just feel like ratings don’t really get across what I’m trying to do here in reviewing books. The best part or reviewing for me is being able to express myself in words whether a book was good for me or not. It’s about remembering my favourite parts or my least favourite and what worked or what didn’t. A number doesn’t really tell you how I felt about it, not really. I’d rather give people recommendations based on what I have to say about a book and not based on some pre-determined scale.
There is honestly so much pressure trying to decide on what number to give a book. I often see people posting about how they get hateful comments towards them for what they rated a book. Reviews are meant to spark conversation about books and I think we all need to remember that. How much power do thoughts and ideas have if people are going to take a rating at face value and not even bother with the review?
I think the reason why ratings have such a bad rep is because of Goodreads. I’ve been a member since 2011 and I love using it to keep track of my reading and discover new books. I love reading reviews of books to get a sense of them before I decide to read them. Reviews can actually be very useful in cases where a synopsis might be misleading.
When I first started book blogging, the general consensus seemed to be that I should have a review policy set in place. This is my current rating system:
1/5 Waste of time/Did not finish
2/5 Not quite my kind of book
3/5 Okay, but missing some things
4/5 Really enjoyed, would recommend
5/5 LOVED it and everyone should read it
I definitely shopped around other book blogs to see how their systems worked before deciding on what I would do. After careful consideration, I made my own rating system. There was definitely a lot of uncertainty when it came to some books and it was easy to feel pressure because so many people had hyped a book up, or others didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I did. Sometimes I found myself wondering if I maybe missed something while I was reading because other people had rated a book differently. It’s easy to forget that your opinions are your own and nobody else should be able to sway your opinion of something you have read, ever.
The thing I love most about my reviews is if I love a book, I can list the reasons why someone else might enjoy it. I try not to be negative when writing reviews as much as possible, because I would hate to steer potential readers away from books they might enjoy. The book community is positive for the most part and it’s always great to see bookworms encouraging and supporting others in their work.
So, if you stuck around this long and have read this entire post, know that I will be removing ratings from my reviews and just sticking to the words themselves. Nothing will change in my reviews, there just won’t be a number attached.
How do you feel about book ratings or rating systems in general? Let me know in the comments!