Ever since I started reviewing books in 2013, I’ve always used a 1-5 star rating of some description (although I did change my stars to cupcakes because I thought it was cuter but it follows the same system). Whether it be on my blog, Goodreads or Amazon I was always rating the books I had read between 1 and 5 stars. I thought everybody did that, I thought that was the “norm”. But since blogging more and more, I’ve seen various opinions from people who say the star rating isn’t for them, they don’t like it or they rate books in a different way. Some, not at all.
Before I go into the post, I wanna say that I use the star rating system, I always have and I probably always will. It helps me keep a more solid track of the books I’ve read and how I think about them – especially on Goodreads. But I can see people’s issues with this system. For one and probably the main issue that I see and I do have to contend with from time to time (organising blog tours for authors and having reviewers constantly reviewing and rating books) is that not all people view a certain rating in the same way.
Personally, I rate a lot of books 5 stars. Even if there’s a couple of little bits I don’t like about it, if I loved it and if I couldn’t put it down, it’s getting rated 5 stars. IMO, those types of books are rare, so they should be celebrated to the highest level. Does that mean I’m not as critical of the books I read? Not as good and thorough of a book blogger? No, absolutely not. You should see some of my lower star reviews – I definitely critique them to the highest of my ability to explain why I didn’t like them in a professional and constructive way.
Other people I know, rarely rate a book 5 stars unless they feel it’s a masterpiece of the future. I get the reasoning although this approach isn’t for me, I get that they’re saving their 5 stars for the truly special books that come into their lives. That’s fine and we’re all entitled to different ways to rate a book but that’s where it can cause a bit of drama for the author in question.
Like book bloggers, authors also have a unique way of acknowledging star ratings. And some authors are delighted with 3 star reviews; they don’t mind the criticism (if any) and they feel like 3 stars is a solid rating to receive. Some authors on the other hand, feel like a 3 star review is awful. I’m not going to name names of course or get personal but I’m not exaggerating either when I say I’ve worked with authors who are devastated at a 3 star review. If we’re gonna talk about something, we might as well be truthful.
And I think that’s our main problem with star ratings. A blogger may have read a book, enjoyed it, reviewed it fairly and constructively, gave both good and bad points then spent the time promoting it on social media, uploading it to Goodreads and Amazon and doing all the positive things a book blogger does when they’ve got a new book review up on their blog, for the author to bitch and whine and ask them to take the review down because it was 3 stars and they expect no less than 5. And unfortunately, I’ve heard of this happening.
Although incidents like this will not stop the majority of us rating a book how we wish, it is a shame that it happens and it’s a shame something as innocent as rating a book can cause so much drama. I sure won’t be changing the way I review books or changing how I rate them. Nor would I ever remove a review or rate a book higher than what I believed it deserved because the author isn’t happy with it. Book bloggers need to stand their ground in that respect. But that’s a whole other topic for another time.