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Books > How many books do you give 5 stars?

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Sffgeek I've just realised that I've given about a quarter of my books 5 stars. Now obviously I tend to read authors I really enjoy, and one of them (Pratchett) is very prolific. So it's not like I'm giving 5 stars to a quarter of all books read randomly. But it still seems it's probably too high.

What do the rest of you do? Do you have a notional percentage as a guide for 5 stars? Or, like me, do you find many books by your favourite authors "amazing"?


message 2: by Megan (last edited Oct 20, 2011 04:59AM) (new)

Megan Baxter | 191 comments Mod
I very, very rarely give books five stars. I tend to reserve five stars for books I get truly evangelical about, those I feel the need to run out and tell everyone to read, RIGHT NOW. (Of course, I'm sure my favourite authors get a much higher percentage of five stars than other authors.)

I give a lot of four star reviews - in my head, that's "really good, I'll probably read it again at some point." Three stars is "good, but won't bother reading again."

I just looked at my stats - I've read 130 books so far this year, and only given out 5 five-star reviews. Of those, two of the books were science fiction. (Spin by Robert Charles Wilson and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.)


Jenn Thorson (JennThorson) | 34 comments I tend to give the 5 stars to things I would read again, or have already read again. (Pratchett is one of them. Love "Mort," for instance.)

But I lean toward the 4 and 3 star reviews as being perfectly adequate for books (or in the case of, say, Netflix, movies I've liked). According to Netflix I apparently skew a little more critical than the other fellow movie goers. I don't currently have enough ratings listed on GoodReads to have a good idea of my full trends yet.


message 4: by SubterraneanCatalyst (last edited Oct 20, 2011 06:22AM) (new)

SubterraneanCatalyst -Censorship is for the Weak (TheLazyAbsentmindedReviewer) | 47 comments I haven't been around goodreads that long but I noticed that my ratings tend to be more forgiving than others. It took me awhile to realize this and also discover that I'm mainly rating based on how much I personally enjoyed the book vs a grade on the writers competence or ability. So for example, I might rate a classic that I've read a 2 lol. I know it's a 'good' book but I hated it..I might even give it a one.
If I'm reading a book and there are some sins (which most have) such as plot holes, TSTL characters- I can live with that if the author is entertaining me the entire way or giving me something unique in some manner, that I enjoy.

I wouldn't automatically rate all of my fave authors five stars...but probably most of their work or I wouldn't adore them quite so well, right?


Amanda Lyons (AmandaMLyons) I'm just not anal retentive enough to reserve five stars for beyond amazing work myself. Therefore I give it to books that I enjoyed a lot and these usually are by my favorite authors. If I liked it but thought it could have used some work or the end wasn't as intense as the rest I might give it a three.


Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper (PirateGhost) I'm anal retentive enough to reserve 5 strs for a unique story, an amazing book or a book that, for good or ill, has some special signifigance to me.

That means 4 is likely to be the best score I give a book in most cases, or rather, a four is a strong score and indicates a good read. For that matter, a 3 is a passible work and may be recommended by me to others. 2 is generally a book I didn't enjoy, but managed to read all of and a 1 would be books I couldn't finish because they were so bad.

I don't think my scoring system should be universal, only this is how I do it.


Candiss (Tantara) I tend to give more 4-star ratings than anything else, because (going with the Goodreads definition of that rating) I "really liked" them. I am not one to finish a book I'm not enjoying, except in the case of classics, where I may well only "like" them (3-stars) but finish them out of respect for their cultural significance or my appreciation of the author. If I sense a book is going to be a less-than 3-star read for me, I toss it and move on.

As for 5-star ratings (aka "it was amazing) out of the 63 books I have read so far in 2011, I gave 5 stars to 10 of them, which seems about right.


SubterraneanCatalyst -Censorship is for the Weak (TheLazyAbsentmindedReviewer) | 47 comments Pia, I have also. I'm a newb on here so I've added a bunch of books I've read 'recently' or that I can recall ..but I've been reading for YEARS and extensively. I'm not even going to bother to try to really input that completely on this site. Just what I find current and I can remember relatively easily.


Jenn Thorson (JennThorson) | 34 comments Ah, I was wondering what folks were doing about those books they read many moons ago. For me, going back and rating everything I've read from the beginning of time would, well, require time travel capabilities just to be efficient. So I did include a couple that left a real impression on me, and then have been just rating as I go forward.


Megan Baxter | 191 comments Mod
I browse different parts of the site every once in a while, and rate books that I remember reading. I figure I'll gradually build up my list of books I read long ago. But yeah, since then, it's been mostly as I go.

But I actually enjoy being critical of books I really disliked. I don't tend to really dislike books very often, but when one makes me angry (rather than just vaguely bored), I enjoy trying to figure out exactly why.


Nichole  ~~The Grey Lady~~ (wizardsheart) | 4 comments I have recently changed...or rather better defined my rating system. For me, a 5 star book is a book that I absolutely LOVE. Its a book that I know I will want to read again. It's a book that stays with me over time...it's something that I am going to strongly recommend. It's the kind of book that I wish I could read again for the first time. I guess in short my very favorites are 5 stars and they are in the running of the desert island question. :o)

I also agree with one of the previous posters....that 3 and 4 star ratings for books are more then adequate. A book I give 4 stars too is one that I really really enjoy. 3 stars is usually for a book that I thought was good and am glad that I read. 2 stars are books that I managed to finish but didnt enjoy, and wish I hadnt read. They are ones I wouldnt recomend. And a 1 star is reserved for the book that I didn't finish....but that I read over 100 pages of. And mostly its because at that point I am irritated at the wasted time and consider to have read it enough to rate it. Anything less then that just gets a dnf and no rating. Which I consider a kind of tricky situation and would be a whole other topic!


Sffgeek SubterraneanCatalyst wrote: "... I'm not even going to bother to try to really input that completely on this site. Just what I find current and I can remember relatively easily..."

I've found that I have to keep adding books because they get Recommended, and shelving them as Read is the easiest way to get them replaced in the Recommended List.


SubterraneanCatalyst -Censorship is for the Weak (TheLazyAbsentmindedReviewer) | 47 comments Sffgeek wrote: "SubterraneanCatalyst wrote: "... I'm not even going to bother to try to really input that completely on this site. Just what I find current and I can remember relatively easily..."

I've found that..."



I'm doing that as well. If I come across a book on here that I've surfed to, was recommended by a friend, or I see on my recommends list that I've read but haven't put it on my 'read' list I'll add it.
For the past three years I've read almost exclusively books via my Kindle or my iphone. I'd say 99% of them. When I first registered on GR, I looked at my Amazon library list and just input a bunch of books on here until I ran out of steam LOL. Now I'm just going to do as needed because of that exact reason you stated: to get the books I've already read off any recommendations lists.

@Nichole- I really liked your explanation of your ratings system, that's pretty much how I rate things and you explained it perfectly :).


Sffgeek Nichole wrote: "I have recently changed...or rather better defined my rating system. For me, a 5 star book is a book that I absolutely LOVE. Its a book that I know I will want to read again...."

Exactly! The trouble is that almost all of Pratchett's, Bujold's and Stross' books fall into that category. That's half of my 5 stars right there...


Jenn Thorson (JennThorson) | 34 comments Sffgeek wrote: "Nichole wrote: "I have recently changed...or rather better defined my rating system. For me, a 5 star book is a book that I absolutely LOVE. Its a book that I know I will want to read again...."

E..."


I think that's sort of a lovely problem to have, though. :) In fact, I'd say "Just star 'em as you see 'em."


CD  | 44 comments The books that I have listed as read and rated 5 stars on Goodreads are just less than 10% of the total. That is probably skewed high as I have not listed everything I've read over the years.

Books for me on Goodreads are either current, since I've joined GR, or ones that stand out for one or more reasons. Many are also 'popular' or at least well known. Many professional works, texts, or limited editions of the same I probably won't ever list. Few of those would usually rate above 3 stars.

Most books that I enjoy reading will be 3 stars and on occasion 4. For a book to be worth a 4 star rating it needs to be unusual, technically excellent, very readable, or just excel in a way that makes it memorable for more than a few minutes. There are 4 star books that I will read again and decide that it merits 5 stars eventually or is 'in the running'.

Less than 3 stars is reserved for poor stories, simplistic or juvenile writing when not warranted, shock for shock value, bad translations, hagiographies, creative fiction posing as non-fiction or vice versa, badly researched, etc.

Books with 1 star occupy a special place. These are books to not read, waste your time on, or deserve derision if I take the time to write an appropriate and not terribly libelous review.

Non starred books I just haven't decided where to fit them in the pantheon, or more likely it has been a while since I have read them and 2, 3, or 4 stars wouldn't be totally fair based on my current scheme. Or they are just an average entertaining read. I periodically add stars to older works that are for me worth reading again or having someone else read and possible discuss/comment on those stories/books.

5 stars. The mark of something special. All are one that I will read many times. These are books that may be nothing more than a romping good entertaining few hours and are ones I just can't put down. They are in some case important reference points in literature either for me or everyone. I will recommend these to anybody to read if they are willing in some cases to put in the effort.

Many 5 star books are exemplary of their genre ranging from Science Fiction and Fantasy works to photography. Yes books that are all pictures can be rated 5 stars. In fact I have several that are rated this highly.

I have non-fiction, drama, philosophy, political science, history, photography and even one or two that might be called handbooks or manuals that are worth that 'extra' mark of goodness. They are all standouts at least for me and occupy shelf space that makes them readily accessible.

Finally, a book and the rating assigned may change as years go by. I know there are books that I use to think were great and now are just 'goodreads' and my appreciation of some works continue to change.


message 17: by J.P. (last edited Oct 20, 2011 03:52PM) (new)

J.P. | 104 comments Since I joined I've given 8 five star ratings to the 62 books I've read. I think that's a bit over the norm, but I tend to give more slack to authors that I enjoy. If I've rated them 5 stars in the past there's a tendency to give another one of their books 5 stars.
In retrospect I may have doled out a few too many high ratings to books I read many years ago. This is because if the plot or a character stuck with me I remembered it so it must be really good.
I've found the ratings on books on Goodreads to be useful to find a new author I haven't read before. If they have a book rated over 4 stars as long as it isn't a genre I know won't appeal to me I'll check it out. I've learned not to trust ratings until there are at least 50 for a book otherwise it could be a case of the friends, family and distant relatives of the author stuffing the ballot box so to speak.


message 18: by mark, personal space invader (new)

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 677 comments Mod
i reserve my 5 star ratings for books that i would probably call "my favorite books". books that i would find very hard to critique. currently, 48 out of 364 rated books.

i do find something to like about most books, so i end up giving most books 3 stars.


Karen Wyle (kawyle) | 54 comments This is a fascinating thread for me. As a new science fiction author, I haven't been sure what to think about 4-star reviews. It sounds as if I shouldn't be ashamed of them :-) ....

Those of you who reserve 5 stars for your favorite books: if a book's description intrigues you, and it has 3 and 4 star reviews, are you likely to read it?


message 20: by mark, personal space invader (new)

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 677 comments Mod
in short, yes, i would.

but then this is coming from a member who probably doesn't share the same philosophy as many other members. i genuinely Like my 3-star books. from me at least, 3 stars is no insult. and 4 stars is a very high recommendation.

i've noticed that most other members are more generous (or perhaps less discriminating), and will give automatic 4 and 5 stars to every book that they enjoyed. that's fine and that's their prerogative.

but for me, i go exactly by the GR star system, meaning...

1 star: i didn't like it
2 stars: it was okay
3 stars: I LIKED IT
4 stars: i really liked it
5 stars: IT WAS AMAZING

and honestly, i like most books, most things have something that is enjoyable or interesting or likeable. but i do not find most books to be "Amazing". just the rare few.


Kurt Reichenbaugh | 35 comments If it has resonance, or accomplishes what it set out to do whatever the genre, and keeps me from wanting to set it down, it'll get 5 stars. I know that some may throw 5 stars at a book like rice at a wedding, but I strive to be honest about it.


Kathy (Kathy_H) | 54 comments Karen wrote: "This is a fascinating thread for me. As a new science fiction author, I haven't been sure what to think about 4-star reviews. It sounds as if I shouldn't be ashamed of them :-) ....

Those of you..."


I wouldn't be embarrassed with a 3-star rating either. That means the book was good and I liked it. It is just one of my top books. I think many people do inflate the star system where 3 is just average -- but that is not what the GoodReads star sytem says. I will read books with 3 and 4 star averages without any reservations.


Richard (ThinkingBlueCountingTwo) | 152 comments mark wrote: "i reserve my 5 star ratings for books that i would probably call "my favorite books". books that i would find very hard to critique. currently, 48 out of 364 rated books.

i do find something to..."


I go along exactly with Mark's thoughts. My shelves, at the moment,only contain books I currently own. Apparently I've rated 419 books so far and only 24 get 5 stars.

@ Karen, it might not be true for the Goodreads community in general, but a 3 star rating on my shelves should be something to be happy about. It would mean I read your book and enjoyed it, happy to say I liked it, you would be in with some very good company there. A 2 star rating just means it didn't really do anything for me, ie it was ok, but 1 star well that's different that means I actively disliked it or couldn't even bring myself to finish it. 0 stars just means I either haven't read it or got round to rating it yet.

Most of the absolute classics of the Genre get 4 stars from me, very very good, just not a favourite that I need to rave about or left me feeling indelibly changed in some way.


Sffgeek It's interesting to see the effects of crowd sourcing on the average rating. Especially now we've seen the differences in approach from just the few people on this thread.

Doing a quick straw poll on my shelves. On my "to-read" shelf the ave ratings run from 3.38 to 4.40 (apart from one that only has two ratings). On my "possibles" shelf (= probably going to buy at some point) the range is very similar: 3.48 to 4.38. So if there are enough reviews, most books I'm interested in seem to end up in a range of 0.5 either side of 4.

On the other hand, my "not read" shelf (= books I bought (probably cheap) but may never get round to reading) the great majority have ratings in the range 3.00 to 4.1

So it looks like it comes down to half a star. Rated by a reasonably large number of people, most books will end up with 3 to 4.5 stars. The good ones will be 3.5 to 4.5, the less good will be 3.0 to 4.0. Of course there's that tricksy overlap from 3.5 to 4.0...

Incidentally, over 417 ratings I given an average of 3.73 - pretty much in the zone for GR as a whole, but high for the responders to this thread (see below). But, considering that I've given 5 stars 110 times, I look as though I give a much wider range than most people - more 5's but also more 1's and 2's.

Did a quick look at the last few posters on this thread. Avg ratings are:
Mark: 3.11
Richard: 3.37
J.P.: 3.48
CD: 3.49
Kathy: 3.50
sffgeek: 3.73
Kurt: 4.07
Karen: 4.15 (small sample - only 34 ratings)


message 25: by mark, personal space invader (new)

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 677 comments Mod
interesting analysis Sffgeek.

your post reminded me of the much longed-for half star. that is a popular ongoing topic. the GR Feedback group has an entire discussion thread based on members feelings about and desire for the half star.


SubterraneanCatalyst -Censorship is for the Weak (TheLazyAbsentmindedReviewer) | 47 comments Ah half star! Yes, I'd vote yes on that one! I just did a lazy review on a Vernor Vinge book and I wanted to grant it 3.5 stars..I felt 3 was too low but it wasn't quite a 4 IMO. I just list the half descript in the first sentence :).


Scott | 247 comments I have a 3.72 average, apparently.

I give five stars to a book that is life-changing, one that I connected to in a deeply personal way, or simply one that I couldn't wait to get back to as soon as I was finished doing whatever other stuff I was doing.

Four stars doesn't necessarily mean there is anything wrong with the book; it just didn't reach any of those levels for me. It should still be considered a high recommendation from me.


Nichole  ~~The Grey Lady~~ (wizardsheart) | 4 comments Karen...I dont put a lot of stock into the stars that other people give a book, because everyone has such different ideas. So if I saw a description and it intrigued me, then I would read it regardless of the stars.


Becky (groundhawg) | 33 comments I am VERY picky about what I want to read in the first place, I'm fairly certain I'm going to like it before I read it. Also, if it doesnt get my by page 50 I tend to toss it aside. I usually dont add these to goodread, maybe I should to warn others, but I dont. Regardless they are few and far between. In choosing new books I rely heavily on friend and famile suggestions, then I always read the best and the worst comments someone has left for the book (always trying to avoid spoilers), I decide which person sounds more like me and either get the book or leave it alone.

I think this is why my average rating is like 4.0.


But then there is also the matter of the shelves. I dont judge all books equally- I judge them against their peers. I LOVE Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series, but I'm perfectly ready to admit its not "good writing" it rated for it sheer enjoyability. I don't compare H. Beam Piper to the Bronte sisters either. So really, where I place it on my shelves is more important.

I didnt join that long ago, so I'm still in the process of going back and entering in my reviews for books, but eventually I hope my ratings and shelving appears consistent.


Rachel Cotterill (rachelcotterill) | 11 comments I only rate books I've finished, and I think I give out 3, 4 and 5 stars in roughly equal proportion. If a book doesn't rate three stars, I'm very unlikely to finish it at all.

And I definitely rate on personal enjoyment rather than attempting any objective measure of 'quality'!


Leah | 14 comments My average rating is a 3.53 for 93 books. I've given 5 stars to ~20 books. Yes, the GR rating system is inflated but I like that there is more emphasis on books that you did like (above avg) versus books you did not like (below avg).


George (Wegason) | 32 comments My average rating is 3.37 for 135 books. I have given a 5 star rating 14 times, which is about 10% and I have given a 2 star rating 14 times. Most of my ratings are 3 stars (56) and 4 stars (45).

I reserve a 5 star rating for books I love, books I adore, books that I recommend to people, that made me want to instantly read the next one if its a series, or buy copies for my friends. Or read again, within a month.

My favourite book is one I have bought on seven different occasions, to give away as presents to people I care about. I have one copy which is pristine, for me, and one copy I lend to people I know and have talked about books with who I think will enjoy it.

I save 1 star ratings for books I found mind-numbingly boring, ones I could not finish due to that, and for books I felt were really bad.

A 3 star book is what GR says it is, I like it, would I read another by the author? Yes. Would I read the next in the series? Yes. If it's 4 stars I might get the next one a lot sooner than a 3 star but I'll get it eventually.


Kathryn (bowseratediddy) | 20 comments My average rating is 3.93 for books. Not because I'm all that generous, but because most of the 200 books I've rated have been ones that I've read over the years and thought were good enough to keep around. I was highly discriminating when I moved this last year - knowing I wouldn't have room for even the ones I wanted to keep as I was moving to a smaller place. Therefore, when I got into the mood to rate things I was looking at bookshelves of my favorites. I've only read 50ish books this year with life being crazy. Certainly not my personal best, so my ratings really haven't had time to even out yet.

When I'm rating my system goes like this:

1 star - I reserve this mostly for books that were so terrible I couldn't even get through them. It takes a lot for this to happen, as I'm a bit OCD and will usually force myself to finish what I started, even if I'm not enjoying it.

2 stars - Didn't like it and I will not be reading it again. Usually this means that while the subject matter was interesting to me, everything about the book was just flat.

3 stars - A good book. I liked it and may at some point read it again, but it probably won't be the first thing I pick up to reread unless I'm just particularly in the mood for that book. This is a decent rating - it means I enjoyed it, but it's not a story that stimulated me as much as others.

4 stars - I love this book! This is what I rate most books that I would reread often. Often for me being maybe once a year or every few years. A four star book will occasionally get culled from my collection, but a four star rating means that I would eventually want to pick it up again.

5 stars - Pry this book from my cold dead hands. Some of my 5 star ratings are books from my childhood that have major sentimental value, even if upon rereading I might think they weren't quite as good. As far as anything new without sentimental value, this means that I thought it was fantastically written - couldn't put it down. Five star books interfered with my life and caused strains on my relationship with friends or family. Five star books made me walk into walls or trees because I wouldn't put it down to exercise or walk the twenty feet to my car. Five star books turned everyone around me into chauffeurs, because I really couldn't be bothered to drive right now... These books usually left a lasting impression on me and in many cases had some sort of philosophical overtone that fascinated me or some other intellectually stimulating theme.


Kathryn (bowseratediddy) | 20 comments Of course, I always find myself re-rating things too. Often I will rate a book right after reading it and later decide it really wasn't as good as I thought while still in the afterglow. If it doesn't stand the test of time, it gets demoted.

Occasionally I find I need to promote a book on the star scale. Upon rereading sometimes I find that there were many things that I didn't appreciate or was too young/busy/stressed to really understand at the time.


Jam (lordportico) | 6 comments I've realized over time that books I would have given 5 stars four years ago, wouldn't be quite so valuable to me now. Four years ago, they would have seemed unique, but as I get to read even better books, my standards get higher, so I tend to redo my ratings. I used to read a lot of strange books with unknown authors when I was in highschool, but now, I've gotten into the habit of only reading from authors I like or have been recommended, so I do tend to have a high skew on my percentage of 5 star ratings.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

I give very very few 5 stars. Because of librarything where I've been a lot longer I think of half stars. so if the worst is a half star the very best is 5 stars. an average good read is 2 1/2-3 stars. or on a 1-5 scale an average would be 3 stars. A very good book I really liked would be 4 stars and those rare amazing books get 5 stars. I use the same system at netflix


Timothy Darling | 36 comments I used weRead that had the half star system too, and Collectorz has 10, so I'm used to a finer system. For me 5 stars has to be an absoulte (not just SF) classic or indespensible. I give out only a few 5 stars to SF books: The Time Machine, Brave new World, 1984, RUR, Frankenstein, Jeckyl & Hyde ... these all get 4.5 except Jeckyl and Hyde which gets 5


Joe | 39 comments 5 stars usually go to the classics. A new book has to really blow the roof off my house to get 5 stars.
I think the only 5 star books written in the last 5 years would be "The Name of the Wind" and "Passage".


Dan (danielzaloga) | 8 comments Of the 290+ books I have on goodreads, about 70 have 5 stars from me... I thought it would have been around 40. Gene Wolfe and Terry Pratchett do account for a large number of the 5 star ratings.

The thing is, I tend to be more conservative with ratings, so those books must really be the ones I love.


Timothy Darling | 36 comments I think I'm conservative with ratings too, so if I have the option of a 10 star system, I use a lot of 7s and 9s (for me 6=above average, 7=good, 8=excellent, 9=classic, 10=indespensible).


Timothy Darling | 36 comments you can see from that system that very few books (of my 2500 book collection only about 15) get 10 stars. I felt the need to elevate something above a classic, because I've read lots of classics that I don't recommend for a number of reasons. You can also see that a 5 star rating ends up combining some of my own categories.


Vyse (Vyse_The_Coward) | 2 comments I follow the goodreads stars system in the way it tells you to and I've given 12/149 books 5 stars. I've got a 2.93 average. I don't try to limit the 5 star ratings, I'll give it to anything amazing.

I probably overuse the 2 star rating.


Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper (PirateGhost) Out of 477 rated books only 21 have 5 stars. That's 4%. Half my rated books got 4 stars. I thought that was kind of high until I thought about it and realize that or the 900+ books I have, the ones I've bothered to rate are mostly books that I really liked.


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