Chitter-Chatter: Book Ratings – to be, or not to be: that is the question!

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Welcome to the ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series. I’m so glad you are here.  

In case you have missed previous posts in this series, we are still talking about:

In today’s post, I would like us to talk about book ratings.

Or rather for them to be, or not to be: that is the question. 😊

I have been recently wondering how comparable these ratings are across different genres as well as how granular they really are. I mean if I incline towards 4 stars, but it’s not quite there, but then 3 ½ stars seem a bit low… I know, I am overthinking it.

How do you rate a coffee table book vs. a fantasy book? One will show you lovely images and could make your living space more enjoyable whereas the other one may get your heart pumping and could get you emotionally invested. Is it fair to rate the first lower than the latter because of perhaps a lack of emotional investment? I guess if you, as a book blogger, tend to stick to one genre, maybe this question becomes redundant. But I like to read a lot of non-fiction as well as fiction. And I’m starting to wonder if my non-fiction ratings are directly comparable to my fiction ratings…

What also bugs me the most is when my heart is in a conflict with my brain. That’s where I have not idea how to rate.

I’ll give you an example:

I finished reading The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I was fully emotionally invested, I cried a lot and my heart loved it. I gave it 5 stars on GoodReads straight after I finished it. Then I started thinking about it. And my dear brain told me: ‘ehm, the ending was rushed, it was a bit of a soap opera really, there were quite a few clichés… let’s give it 3 or 3 ½ if we are generous, shall we’? My heart is refusing to listen and wants to firmly stick to the 5-star rating.

So which rating shall I give it? Shall I average them? Or listen to my brain?

Ultimately all reviews are our opinions and are therefore subjective. I think describing our reasons for liking a certain book and then pointing out where it personally fell a bit short of us, seems quite fair to me.

We are reading Art. Is it fair to rate the work of art?

I honestly don’t know the answer to it yet.

But I am starting to incline towards writing a review which will leave a reader with my thoughts rather that with thoughts + a number.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t use ratings by the way, I’m just thinking out loud and trying to work out what would work the best for me.

If you enjoy giving your books ratings, please don’t feel judged. That’s not my intention at all.  

Let’s talk!

As I’m trying to figure it all out, I  will be very grateful for any of your advice.

I am especially keen to work out if:

  1. you listen to your heart
  2. you listen to your brain
  3. you listen to both of them

If your answer is 3), how do you then reflect that in your overall rating please?

I appreciate all your comments, they always make my day. 😊

22 thoughts on “Chitter-Chatter: Book Ratings – to be, or not to be: that is the question!”

  1. I know a lot of us stop rating novels at some point and it really isn’t easy. The main reason I still do it is because I always look at other blogger’s ratings first myself, usually before I read the review. If there’s no rating and the review says they liked it but there were still some remarks I sometimes catch myself sneaking off to Goodreads to see how they rated it and if it was 3 or 4 stars. For me the toughest ratings are 3 and 4 stars but even then my system is pretty easy: do I see myself rereading the novel, supossing I liked it? No, then it’s 3 stars, yes it’s 4 stars. So if I were to read The Great Alone and I had some remarks but still loved it I’d give it 4 or 4.5 stars probably.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes absolute sense to me. Thanks Inge for letting me know how your system works, I really appreciate it.❤

      And I will definitely keep that advice in mind for The Great Alone rating, thanks. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m definitely a “think with my heart” type of gal… Which has often gotten me into trouble! 😂
    I state my rating system on my about page, as I feel like I rate things differently from others. You will very rarely fee 5 star ratings on my blog as 5,being the highest rating, should be saved for the be all and end all of books. The books I would take with me to a desert island to read forever.
    As for rating different genres… I don’t think the genre really matters (unless it’s a genre you don’t like. You can’t rate something 1 star just because you don’t like YA fantasy or something), I usually feel the rating in my heart as I’m reading the book. It’s all about how the writing effects me! 💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can relate to the ‘think with heart’ a lot! And I know about those troubles as well! 😂😂

      That all makes sense to me. I think you have a point re cross genres ratings. So basically when I’m rating a coffee table book, I’ll rate it relative to its peers, aka other coffee table books. The problem arises if that’s the only coffee table book I have read so far but that’s quite unlikely… yep, overthinking is my middle name… 😂

      Thanks for stopping by and for your advice, really appreciate it! 😊❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been thinking more and more about this recently not just in terms of ratings but how I personally critically evaluate a book, a film or a show. I want to stay consistent but sometimes I may not like an element of a book that I liked in another or so on and so forth. I think in the end you just have to follow your heart.
    Certainly doesn’t mean you can’t change your opinion though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do know what you mean. I do like to reserve the right to change my mind. 😂

      I think it’s sometimes a combination of things… slow reads can get on my nerves and then I find books where they could drag for eons and I would happily read them.. as long as that element I’m not too keen on in general gets compensated by something such as how written it is and if it resonates with me…

      Thanks for your thoughts, and I’m glad that those hearts are to be followed. They get through a lot so letting them win sometimes somehow feels good. 😊


  4. Ohhh, I have a lot of thoughts on this one. I stick by my 10-point rating because I think it allows a bit more room to express my opinion, but there *are* so many books that just kind of defy ratings. I’m very involved in the video game scene, and some of the debates in the last couple of years have been around the relevance of number ratings. What makes one game a 7.5 but another one a 7.6? Can you quantify all the components of a creative product and average them out to a single number, or is that a soulless thing to do? But generally, I think rating books (and games) can be a great way to provide an overview for other people.

    And I’m definitely a “go with the heart” person! For example, with Robin Hobb’s books, I realize there are some “technical” problems like pacing and repetition, but they’re still nothing less than utter perfection in my eyes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kathy for such a thoughtful reply. 😍 I can definitely see the benefit for others. I usually check the scores before I read those reviews. I may extend categories for story telling, pace, language and other parts and then average them out… that way I’m looking consistently across the same categories. Across different genres… I’ll probably need a lot of time to overthink it first though… 😂😂🙈

      I’m so glad that the go with the heart prevails amongst a lot of us! I really want to read something from Rob Hobb – I know her books are highly rated and I will be checking them out for sure. 😊👌

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s so hard!
    Someone not so long ago floated the idea to replace star ratings with gifs. I thought it was not only hilarious, but very accurate too 😀
    I have not given a 1 star rating so far, i’d rather just not finish the book.
    2 star is when i exceed 5 eye-rolls… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, that’s such a fun idea!😂 I’m not sure if I have ever given 1 star either… I DNF books a lot so maybe those would qualify.. but then I just think they were not my cup of tea rather them being poorly written etc…

      I am still undecided re ratings but at at least I have worked out my rating for the Great Alone. 😂

      Happy Sunday! ☀️☀️☀️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank Allie, our hearts ♥️ can be such wonderful guides. I do struggle a lot when my heart doesn’t want to listen to my brain (which happens a lot he he). Thanks for stopping by. 🌟


  6. Great discussion! I honestly have been wondering the same, and I even consider a 4 Star book from a certain genre to be different from that of another. A four star YA book for instance is difficult to compare to a Jane Austen novel. So for me, I still give stars to books, but in my head I have separate levels for each genre, to compare. Hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s very fair Kelly, rating within each genre to compare a book to its relevant peers seems like a great solution. 😊👌

      Do you use sub-categories such as rating pace, writing style, story-telling, reader engagement etc? I don’t but think maybe that will help me personally with more gradual comparison (hopefully!). 😊

      Thanks for stopping by and happy reading. 😊❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is so spot-on! For me, I immediately rate the book one thing on Goodreads after finishing it (a.k.a I follow my heart), but then for my blog reviews, I tend to go with my brain. Of course, I try to balance justify my rating through my final thoughts (which has both the heart and brain aspect in it), but I still ended up being confronted with this dilemma on The Cruel Prince; I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, but 3 on my blog. Haha I was so confused; even now, I’m still debating whether I should change it. 😛

    Great discussion Vera! I think it’s absolutely fair (and more objective) for people not to give ratings, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you went this route!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can relate to that inner debate so much! I am constantly debating if I should change my rating. I think it’s also interesting when I look back at books I read, let’s say 5-10 years ago, and without re-reading those books, thinking if those ratings still stand. Thank goodness for yoga. And my walks with my dog. That seems to help me a lot. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your support and kind words, I really, really appreciate it. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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