Musing Mondays #20: Discrepancies in the Rating System

Posted June 16, 2014 in Discussion, Musing Mondays / 2 Comments

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!
My Musings:
Discrepancies in the Rating System
Today I’m doing to discuss discrepancies in the rating system. This topic first came to mind as I was browsing my Reviews by Rating. I would look at some books that I gave 5 stars and think, wow those weren’t nearly as these other books I gave 5 stars. Same with the more common ratings like 3 stars and 4 stars (these two are the ratings I give the most). 
I thought this was a topic worth discussing as rating systems are very particular with some, and very loose for others. For me, there aren’t specific criteria that I think about when rating a book. I usually just take the good and bad general feelings and see if one ends up being stronger (2 stars or 5 stars) , or they balance out (3 stars). If I truly hate or DNF a book, it’s 1 star. If it’s so wow I can’t even begin writing a review, I just have to sit there for a couple days to digest those feelings, then it’s automatic 5 stars or, less frequently, Special Star. 
It doesn’t take me long at all to rate a book. I usually just think for a few seconds immediately after finishing it. If I liked it, 3 or 4 stars come to mind and I think, was it just average or did I truly enjoy it? Most of the books I read end up falling into those categories. 
But with other ratings (5 stars especially), some books I rated 5 stars because I was blown away and others I rated 5 stars because I remember loving them as a kid and even though my views may be different now (possibly placing them at a lower rating than the other 5 star books), I can’t rate them down because I loved them so much. This is a problem more on Goodreads than my blog, because on my blog I’ve actually reviewed them whereas on Goodreads I just remember how I generally felt about it but don’t have enough memories to give it a more thorough rating. It’s wholistic. If I remember loving it as a kid, automatic 5 stars. Some I’ll re-read and possibly adjust the rating when I review it, but no guarantees. So if it doesn’t have a review, just a rating, don’t take it completely seriously.
So I guess my rating system isn’t entirely reliable. If you want the full scoop, reading the review or even just the Bottom Line is the best way to know the full story. For instance, I Am Livia was 5 stars for sure because it’s one of my favorite books of 2013/14. But is it at the same level as A Series of Unfortunate Events? No! Those were books I read as a kid and just recently re-read so I could review them. But while they are really good, I wouldn’t say they are as good as I Am Livia. And some, looking back on them now, I gave 5 stars kind of ironically. Like it was good and all but it had this major twist that, whether it’s taken as good or bad, automatically boosted it up to 5 stars because it’s so controversial (see The Diary of Amy). Others were truly magical but I just couldn’t boost them up to a Special Star because they weren’t quite at the level of The Book Thief or Attrition. And even with those 2 books, I gave them Special Stars for completely different reasons. (Although I do think it’s interesting that neither of those place heavy emphasis on romance.) The Book Thief had that emotional appeal and sadness factor, with excellent narration and fantastic quotes. Attrition was action-packed with a masterfully crafted and maintained plot. Both Special Stars.
In fact, I could probably subdivide the 6 rating categories even further. Such as upper tier 5’s and lower tier 5’s, 5+ or 5-, etc. Or I could use decimals (which has never appealed to me). Different people solve this problem different ways. Some use ten stars. Some use a letter rating system. One method I like is rating each aspect of a book and taking the average of all sections for the final rating. But I’m not going to do that. My reviews may be structured, but the ratings are the opposite. Those are based entirely on spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment feeling. I’m going to stick with that.
So what are your thoughts on ratings? Which do you use & why? Let me know in the comments and link up your MMs!


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2 Comments on "Musing Mondays #20: Discrepancies in the Rating System"

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To me, it’s 1 star if I didn’t finish or if I absolutely hated it. 2 stars are even less common than 1 for me, but I use if I didn’t like but still can understand why other people do. 3 stars falls in the in-between category: I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either, and I can see the merits of the book, it just didn’t work out so well for me. 4 stars are given when I really liked a book, will keep my copy of it, recommend it to specific people, and probably read it again at some point in the future. And 5 stars are reserved for those books I know I’m going to own in every format I can, that I will read it again, and that I will shove it on my friends’ faces because OMG everyone needs to read this! Or… Read more »