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Tips for Rating Books

Sometimes, when you finish a book you immediately know where it lands on your rating scale. Sometimes, you have no clue, or maybe you are struggling to figure out where you feel it fits best.

Something important to remember about ratings and reviews is that they are totally dependent on the reader. All readers and reviewers have their own opinions, preferences and a way of rating and reviewing a book. Some reviewers have stricter rating systems than others.

When I’m considering a book and I’m looking at ratings and reviews, I try to avoid reading too many reviews because I don’t want potential spoilers, so that’s when I’ll look at the ratings. If a book has 3 stars and more stars and up, then I’ll be more likely to buy it than anything with 2 stars or less. 2 stars or less. I am also more likely to read more reviews, just to get a better idea on if I may or may not enjoy it. But ultimately, even if something is rated 5 stars, it may be 3 or 2 stars for myself. However, ratings are still very important and can be used as a helpful guideline for those who may not want to read the reviews.

So, in this post I’m going to give you some tips to help you rate books more accurately or understand how many reviewers rate their books, so that when you are looking for your next book you can get a deeper understanding of what the ratings may mean.

The typical rating system for most things is out of 5 stars. I’ll highlight what each star typically means. Just remember that some reviewers may have stricter or looser rating levels, so this is just the basic average expectation of the ratings.

This is as low as it goes. Honestly, you probably struggled to finish it. Maybe you didn’t even finish it (I’ll touch more on this later!) This book may have been written poorly, with grammatical errors or poor structure. Maybe the characters were lacking personality and were unlikable. The plot could have been boring or something too predictable and overdone. From start to finish, this book was just not it for you. You’ll probably give this book away and never look back.

You likely won’t be rereading this one and, just like the 1 star book, you probably won’t keep it. Maybe the storyline was bad or boring and didn’t keep you interested, but the writing itself was well done. Or the writing was poor but the storyline was good or at least not horrible. Either way, this book wasn’t the worst, but definitely not the best.

There are a lot of different ways to look at a 3 stat rating. This seems to be a more neutral ground. It wasn’t a love, but it wasn’t bad. Maybe it lacked in parts of the story, but not enough that you’d consider it a bad book. This is probably a book you felt was okay or even liked but was missing out still.

This is where it gets really good. A 4 star book is a great book that you enjoyed from start to finish. You could definitely see yourself rereading it at some point and you’d definitely recommend this to your friends. There was just something missing that prevented it from getting that 5th star.

This is a book that you want to start over as soon as you finish it. It’s a book that you think about for hours, days or even longer afterwards. This book was near perfection (no books are perfect but this one is damn close). This is the kind of book you start to feel sad about finishing but also can’t wait to read end to see it all come together.

Sometimes, it can be really really hard to choose between one or the other. You feel it’s not quite the higher rating but also better than the power rating. This is when you’d consider a half rating, or as some even do, a quarter rating. I try my best to avoid making half ratings as most websites such as Goodreads or retail websites only allow to select the full star. However, it is unavoidable sometimes, and that’s okay.

There are 6 things to consider when rating a book.

1. How did you feel immediately after finishing reading?
• Did you close the book and feel relieved to finish it? Or did you finish it and immediately want to start all again? Maybe neither, maybe you felt indifferent about it.

2. How engaging did you find the plot?

Did it make you want to keep reading?

3. Did you like the author’s writing style?
• Did the author’s narrative work well for you?

4. How well written were the characters?

Did you find them enjoyable to read?

5. How likely are you to reread this book?

6. How likely are you to recommend this book?

Once you are able to answer these questions, then finding an overall rating should be simple. You can even use a rating system for each thing to consider. Yes, this makes the rating process a bit longer, but for beginners and for times when you are stuck, it’s helpful!

Here is each component with its own 1-5 rating.


Now that you know what each rating means and how to achieve each rating, I have some tips for you when rating and reviewing books.

1. Read the whole book. If you are planning to rate and review a book, the least you can do is read the entire book. If you can’t, if it’s something you truly cannot get through, then don’t finish it. Mark it as a DNF (did not finish) and leave it. Some will leave it as a 1 star review. I used to do this but then I realized that it wasn’t really fair. If I didn’t bother to finish the book, then I have no reason to give it any rating at all. I’ve also read a few great books that started off rough, where I almost DNF but pushed through to end up loving the rest of the book. So it’s unfair to rate a book you didn’t finish.

2. Try writing the review before assigning a rating. Also, try to do it as soon after finishing as possible. This way, it’s still fresh in your mind. As you write the review, it can help you come to a conclusion on what the rating should be. Sometimes, if we give a rating first, then we will unknowingly write a review based on that, while leaving out things that may have pushed it over the edge to the next rating.

3. Be honest. In a world where social media has such a major influence on so much of what we do, especially when sharing our opinion publicly, we may tend to lean in favour of the masses. Just because everyone you follow on bookstagram or booktok loved that book, doesn’t mean you have to. We all have our own opinions. Yes, you will probably get people feeling defensive if you give their favourite book a negative review, but that’s their problem, not yours. Be true to yourself, trust your instincts and be honest. Do not conform to fit in or to gain followers or likes. You’ll be more successful as a reviewer who shares their honest, respectful opinions.

So there it is, my approach to rating books. I’d love to hear how you rate books too!


Thank you for reading my blog! I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions please leave a comment. If you enjoyed this post please like, comment and share

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