So we all saw Lauren have a meltdown on Twitter dot hell over 4 star reviews, complaining that reviewers were being pretentious (paraphrased and not exact wording). Booktube, booktwt, bookstagram, book bloggers, and I’m sure even booktok have likely had and will once again have detailed discourses over ratings and whatnot.
Nearly every reviewer who takes star ratings seriously (I say this bc I do NOT take star ratings seriously) have a post about how and why they rate books using their star system. In fact, over the years I have noticed people drop star ratings all together because they mean nothing. Especially on websites like Goodreads where star ratings are less impactful than the number of people who know the author/book. On the flip side, I do tend to put off books with 2 and 1 star ratings so maybe they do have some impact on prioritizing books but not so much my opinion on them.
While I would love to go into the details of author reactions to star ratings, publishing industry’s strange requirement for 3.5 or higher rating, and how ratings impacts sales, I’m simply not well informed and I don’t have much time to research that properly and give y’all a well informed blog post. Maybe next time, but for now we’ll stick to a personal discussion. I thought I’d explain my nonsensical system of rating. The gist is I rate on vibes lol
Blew me out of the water. I’m thinking about it for months, maybe even years :)))
Genuinely loved it. Probably thinking about it for a few days. No flaws, just didn’t keep me awake at 4am in that good way.
Liked it. Well written, nice story line, but relatively mild. Might forget the plot eventually.
Bored out of my mind reading it. Felt like studying instead of reading for funsies. Occasionally a very problematic book that I kind of enjoyed but it still had issues I won’t ignore.
Deeply offended me. Burn the book, what were you thinking writing this bullshit??
dnf: Refused to finish or could not finish for whatever reason. I literally have no rhyme or reason for dropping a book. It might happen to yours. CONSTANT VIGILANCE and all that, yanno?
I used to half star books, but so many apps don’t have that option. Once I switched rating books on a numerical scale and shifted to this “Offensive–>Mindblown” scale, it became much easier to give it a whole star rating because there’s a concrete feeling evoked by the book. Rating by vibes just makes reading that much more fun. Editors and verified review forums are for literary prowess, I’m just here to have a good time. Maybe down the line I’ll start to look at books more formally but not now.
Contrary to common belief, five star books do not always make it here. I can have a favourite book from anywhere between 5-3 stars, it just depends on what hits the right spot at the right time. In fact, in this day and age, Harry Potter might actually have to morally be demoted to 1 star but shit those books are still favourites because they were formative, no matter how fatphobic, racism, and rife with terf propaganda they are.
I’ve also stopped giving a shit about grammar and writing style. The number of em dashes and buzzwords thrown around in *certain* books is ASTRONOMICAL and YET I enjoy them a lot. So unless the writing affects my reading experience, I legit do not give a shit how weird the writing is. I fuck with fanfics that barely use punctuation and read 300k fics in one sitting (only a slight exaggeration) so like…why have a stick up my ass about traditional publishing, right? ExACTLY.
Plus reading is a hobby. This isn’t a job to me, this is a pass-time and a relaxation activity. I don’t take rating and reviewing all that seriously anymore. I enjoy the book the way it is, in all its messy badly written glory if that’s how it is.
What I do give many fucks about though is representation. I’m talking all across the gamut. Give me 2 star books and 5 star books about BIPOC, queer folks, disabled and neurodivergent folks, the whole shebang. Expecting books by marginalized to uphold a high standard of writing, invoke tears, or abide by some arbitrary high brow expectation…well. That’s just fucked up. Marginalized communities deserve to make mistakes and to exist in all levels of expertise without being torn down for not being perfect. 1 star word vomit diverse books deserve just as many rights as 5 star sad bitch diverse books.
Rating by Genre
Something else I’ve had a bit of an issue with when it comes to rating is genre. In conversation with folks I interact with irl, there are people who will play up the value of critically acclaimed novels while calling romances cringe-y and bad literature. First of all, fuck off. If that logic is applied to how people rate books, then every romance ever cannot stand on the same pedestal as A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, for example. But a romance book is giving you something completely DIFFERENT than a literary fiction book would. I as a reader pick up these books for completely different value additions to my life. I cannot in good faith say that a critically acclaimed book is without a doubt better than a romance or a young adult book because they’re not the same thing. So I’ve got 5 star erotica and 5 star literary fictions and that’s that.
(I know this wee section feels like it’s obvious news to most of you but I have to deal with idiots in my personal life who think cheesy books are bad and low quality so this feels warranted.)
As for non fiction, those are nearly impossible for me to give an objective rating. I cannot read non fiction outside of audiobook format. Non fiction is just plain boring unless it feels like a conversation. But again, boring is an unfair opinion for me to have (personally obviously, you think what you want) about books that serve a completely different purpose. They’re for learning. So I try to rate them based on the value of new information I take. 5 stars means the book was mind-blowing and I learnt copious amounts of new information and 3 stars means points were valid but anyone with basic comprehension and critical thinking could have realized that information (again, subjective since my experiences lead me to know different things). The 2 and 1 star ratings are reserved for Bad Non Fiction Books, you know the type: no research, rambly, offensive opinions, etc.
Well, that’s all I had to say on rating books. I TLDR: I rate on vibes from offensive to mind-blowing. Let me know how you rate your books or link me to some of your fave rating breakdown posts!!
See ya next time 🙂