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Rating Guide

How do you decide what rating to give each book you read? For some, it’s based purely on an immediate emotional reaction. For others, it’s a detailed list of criteria.

For me, a star rating is an answer to one simple question: Would I recommend this title to others? As a librarian and former bookseller, it’s the most natural way for me to think about books. So here is what each star rating means here on Come Hither Books.

Rating Guide

One Star - Only recommended to my enemies
One Star – Only recommended to my enemies
I rarely finish books that I dislike this much, so you will rarely find one star ratings here. A one star rating means I see few (if any)positive traits to recommend this book. An abundance of negative traits makes this one a flat no recommendation. Even if there are some people who might still enjoy this book, I can think of other books I would be much more likely to recommend in its place.

Two Stars - Not Recommended
Two Stars – Not Recommended
I don’t recommend this title. The negatives outweigh the positives, but there is still something positive that will make this title worth reading for some readers. I rarely suggest this title to others, but you may still enjoy it if you don’t share my pet peeves, or if the things that it still does well are important enough to you.

Three Stars - Enjoyable
Three Stars – Enjoyable
This is a good, solid read, but still has some significant flaws. If it aligns with what you like in a book, you will probably enjoy it. If it’s very far outside of your preferences, it probably won’t be enough to win you over. I usually don’t regret reading a three star, but a sequel will not be very high priority on my to-read list (if it makes it at all). I will still recommend this book when it matches a patron well, but it’s not usually the first option that comes to mind.

Four Stars - Recommended
Four Stars – Recommended
I recommend this book regularly. If it’s somewhat close to the kind of story you’re looking for, I think you will probably enjoy it. It may have a few flaws, but I still enjoyed it a lot. For series books, I will probably continue, but it’s not necessarily one I have to start right away.

5 Stars - Highly recommended
Five Stars – Highly recommended
I recommend this book all the time, and try to put it in the hands of as many readers as possible. Even if it’s not 100% inside your regular reading tastes, it’s done so well that I think most people will still enjoy it. These are my proselytizing books, which I talk about a lot and convert as many fans as possible. Usually, that means they have only minor flaws (if any). If it’s a unique enough concept, I may forgive a few more flaws, but it has to be close.

Unrated - Did not finish
Unrated – Did not finish
I don’t rate books I don’t finish, since theoretically they could improve in the final pages. But in reality, I seldom bother finishing anything that doesn’t feel like it has the possibility of being at least three or four stars. So this is the graveyard of boring samples, failed pacing, and irritating characters. Most are books that likely would’ve ended at 1-3 stars if I’d finished, but lost my willingness to keep reading to find out.

Lastly, I don’t use half stars. For me it’s more useful to make myself choose. If I’m in between stars, I will often round up while it’s still new to readers and generating a lot of excitement. If the title makes enough of an impression to stay with me over time, it stays; if it fades far enough, I may eventually revise it down. I don’t change ratings very often though.

How do you rate books? I’d love to hear your thoughts on rating criteria, half stars or any of the other things that make ratings such a tricky prospect.

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11 thoughts on “Rating Guide

  1. Great post!

    I have to admit I do half stars in my blog posts – even fraction it more than half sometimes -, and when I use sites where I have to round the rating up or down to a full star it is often an excruciating task because I cannot help but compare my level of enjoyment of each book to the ones I have read previously.

    I just cannot put them all in the same ‘bag’, if you know what I mean. I don’t think it’s fair to rate a book, say, 3 stars when I did not enjoy it nearly as much as other 3 star books I have read, but it is good enough not to be 2 stars, for example.

    Eh, to each their own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely understand that, and half stars make a lot of sense for most people. I think my own reaction falls halfway between a lot of the time.

      Basing it on how aggressively I’m going to suggest it to others makes the half stars easier to decide. If someone isn’t at first interested, do I try to convince them? If I move on to the next book, round down; if I tell them even more reasons why it’s awesome, round up. I’m a pushy librarian for the right book. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with how you rate your books. I do the same, although I don’t rate books in my blog, I do on Goodreads and I really wish they had the half star option. If I liked a book, but it wasn’t a full four, but I feel it deserves more than a three, I need that half to give that book the most honest rating I can give it! That’s cool that you can make yourself choose, I just know I can’t do it because the book ends up getting the lower rating.

    Like

  3. I know a lot of readers that don’t use rating guides to judge a book. I think I like having a more detailed and set rating scale. However, sometimes I do give books higher ratings than what my rating guide suggests if I really enjoyed it. Nice post, Kimberly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely value the actual review more than the rating. Much more helpful to determine whether you’ll enjoy it a lot. But it is a shorthand to help bring attention to books worth reading.

      Every once in a while, there’s a book that’s so perfectly to what your tastes are that you know it won’t have the same impact on others. California Bones was one, and the review that’ll post tomorrow. It’s hard to rate when you know objectively they’re not perfect, but they flat out make you happy.

      Whatever system works for each reviewer works fine. But we’re all a little different. That’s why it’s such an interesting topic for discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

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