If you are brand new to my blog, first of all, hello! Welcome to my (usually) happy little corner of the book world. Secondly, I don’t tend to include star ratings in my book reviews, unless it’s a 5. There are several reasons why I do this, and I wanted to talk a little bit more about why, after seeing this tweet from Sam @thoughtsontomes.
While I 100% agree with this take, I also think that it’s helpful to just leave star ratings out altogether. Now obviously, on Goodreads, you almost need to include a star rating. If you are ever curious about my star ratings, you can find them on my GR page. Also, I did a post a while back about how I do star ratings, and what a 5-star review means for me. When I write a review on my blog though, I usually skip that step. Like I said there are a lot of reasons why I do this, but ultimately it comes down to one main point.
Everyone reads books differently
And we love reading for this reason! No two people read the same book in the same way. Maybe you got bad personal news halfway through, maybe you had a real-life experience that relates to what you’re reading, or maybe you have a personal prejudice (either positive or negative) about a certain group or type of person represented in the book. We all have those personal prejudices, no one is completely objective about race, gender, region, country of origin, whatever the character trait may be. All of these things make your personal reading experience unique. What does that mean for ratings?
No two ratings are the same!
My 5 star to King of Scars is probably based on different elements of the book than someone else’s 5-star rating. Even if we can agree that we both enjoyed the same elements, the points that really make you fall in love and give it the highest rating you can are going to be different. When you see a review give a 5-star rating you know that reviewer loved something about it. In your mind, you can still look at that book and assume it will be something great. Lower ratings get more complicated.
When you read reviews from people you know really well, you might have a good understanding of what a 4 or 3 star from them means. A lot of the time, my less than 5-star reviews are based on how I feel when reading, which is really difficult to convey in words! I do my best to identify specific elements of the characterization or plot that I struggled with, but when it’s a 3-star book I just sort of feel it.
I just feel it!? What kind of lame reasoning is that right!? But it’s true. The events of my life and my surroundings can conspire to make me love or dislike a book (I try not to say hate because I do think that’s too strong a word xD).
Ultimately what I want to impress on you, dearest reader, is that when I say I gave a book 4 stars, that may mean something very specific to you that it does not mean to me. The reasons I give books 2, 3, or 4 stars vary a great deal from book to book. I don’t have a highly structured rubric (does anyone? That might be helpful actually), so I don’t want your interpretation of my 4-star rating to influence your thoughts on the book.
Star Ratings can Lead to Miscommunication
When a person who has a really distinct idea of what a 4 or 3-star rating is looks at my 4-star review, they could get the wrong idea about how I feel about that book. In an effort to give every book its best chance to start on a good foot with the reading public, I want to avoid that situation. Even if I didn’t love a book, I try to focus on the things other people may enjoy. I don’t do this to try and be a publisher pleaser, I do it because I know everyone reads books differently.
I almost equate star ratings with author blurbs. While sometimes they can be meaningful, I usually don’t know the people who write those blurbs personally. They may be the reader’s honest opinions, but almost every book has super positive blurbs on it and I don’t love every book! That doesn’t mean blurb writers lie (maybe some do!), but it does mean that my reading experience is different for some reason.
Authors don’t put negative blurbs on their books for the same reason I don’t put less than stellar star ratings in my reviews. Even if I give a critique, you might not have a problem with what I cite as a negative point. No one can accurately predict how you will rate a book.
All of this probably seems like common sense logic, but I think it’s important to consider how you are affected by star ratings. Do you skip the review and just look for stars? Or do you ignore star ratings entirely? Would you like me to start including my star ratings in reviews? If you’ve read this far, you’re awesome. ❤