Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

Random Chatter > What makes you tick... those rating stars.

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message 1: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited May 28, 2018 05:18PM) (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Whether you prefer to write a review the moment you put the read novel down or sleep on it before rushing in, there must be hundreds of little details that affect the rating you give to a book.

Is it the sum of all the aspects of a book that come into play or a simple matter of liking or disliking it? Every one of us must have their own way to rate the reads we come across, share what it is for you that makes a book stand out.

My own rating system might not make much sense to others, but I will try to be as precise in its description as possible, in a separate post.

message 2: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 722 comments The Goodreads site gives specific meanings to each star rating, and that is what I try to stick to. Their choices help people to fill-out the full range of possibilities rather than sticking to the high and low end.

I just finished a book and I rated it a 2 here. On some sites a 2/5 might seem harsh. But 2 is defined as "It was OK" and 3 as "I liked it". In this case "It was OK" was the best fit for me. I sort-of liked it, but struggled to finish it even though it was very short.

I totally rate based on whether I enjoyed the book, not on how objectively "good" it is, because (1) I can't really judge the "goodness" objectively and (2) the ratings on a site like this serve mostly to lead to recommendations of other things that I might like.

I don't write reviews in most cases because (1) it takes effort and (2) I rarely have anything to say that isn't in other reviews already. I will write a review if I have strong feelings and/or there are few reviews already.

message 3: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 722 comments A related topic.... I often log-in and find a notice "X liked your review of Y", and I think to myself, "But I didn't write a review of Y!"

It is weird to me when someone "likes" my review when all I did was assign it a star rating or marked it as "to read". That makes it feel meaningless when someone "likes" an actual review that I spent more than a few minutes writing.

message 4: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
I see, that is indeed a rather sensible approach to rating a book, especially since Goodreads relies on that information in order to supply the recommendations. The endgame of my approach is somewhat similar to what you described, but there are multiple factors that I try to include in my final rating.

- One thing that complicates my ratings somewhat is the fact that I think of ratings in terms of a ten-point scoring system. The reason for doing so is simply because I would've ended up with too many books with 5* ratings. If I were to break it down it would look like this:
5* = 10
4* = 8,9
3* = 6,7
2* = 4,5
1* = 1,2,3
Therefore I seldom give five stars to books I liked if there's a flaw of sorts that prevents me to see it as a perfect 10/10.

- While reading a book I try to be as objective as possible (though I fail every single time) when making mental notes that affect my final judgment. I have my go-to points that border on being fetishes, those are consistency and character development (and its consistency), the rest of the things I try to notice are the basics I suppose. In my opinion, having no qualifications as a literary critic should not impede anyone calling out the most obvious of mistakes which have nothing to do with prose itself. A story that is consistent and does not contradict itself or the rules of the universe it is set in (and many do, in order to progress the story). Whenever a story makes sense, it is well on its way to recieve a 7 or an 8 from me, no matter whether I liked it or not.

- Other factors either add or subtract points from my final rating, those being prose, subject, pacing, dialogues. There are also other little things that carry much less weight, such as how well a book ages (some titles are timeless) or how much influence the book exerted on its genre or the literary world altogether.

Clearly this system fails me now and then, there are a few 5* books that I have I am not sure belong there and other 4* books that I'm pretty sure I will promote after a reread. Still even if I absolutely loathe a book, I will do my best to give it a fair shake and try to count its positive qualities in before passing out the final judgment.

message 5: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3984 comments Mod
I have to admit that my ratings too often depend on how I feel today :) and on existing ratings (I may give 5* to a book I liked but others downed with 1*, and 4* otherwise). I also try to limit 5* to 'definitely will recommend' but in truth there are 5* books I won't recommend if I think that a person won't like it.
Overall my system is:
1* - haven't finished
2* - finished but disliked
3* - okay, but nothing special
4* - good read but has flaws
5* - great read, recommended

message 6: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4055 comments Mod
My rating system is not well thought out, I guess.

5* = I usually have either read it multiple times, or I have that rush of disappointment when it is over and know I will read it again if time and all the other books allow. I have a lot of these, so my ratings are probably topheavy. There are best selling series I have read that I will not rate because I would just be giving 20 (or 40) books 5*, which doesn't help anyone, and because I will remember those books, anyway.
4* = pretty good but eh
3* = pretty good but marred by unlikeable characters or bad language, yet I felt compelled to keep reading.
2* = can't believe I finished it, or DNF if the book is bad enough that I feel I need to warn people.
1* = can't believe I finished it, or DNF if the book is so horrible that I feel I need to warn people.

I think this is my system. But it could change tomorrow.

message 7: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited May 31, 2018 06:47AM) (new)

Kateblue | 4055 comments Mod
To Ed -- one of the reasons I write reviews, even though I have written some that were quite time consuming, is that it helps me remember the book. I will also write notes to myself to help with that. "Book with orphan girl discovered in park, etc."

Too often over the years I have found myself 50 or 100 pages into a book and realize I have read it before.

For a long time I kept a notebook of books I had read, but that became too bulky, and I couldn't find the books after I had written paragraphs about several hundred.

I suppose I should start a spreadsheet, though at this point, I think I will just use GoodReads.

message 8: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
The reason I avoid writing any reviews on Goodreads is due to the disturbingly objectionable system they have in place. Reviewers are not moderated in any way and I've seen plenty of dishonest reviews which not only show books in a bad light due to the reviewer not liking them, but also flat out lying about the content of the book. One would assume that the comment section would be the right tool to fight off such injustices, wrong again. Goodreads has a policy in place that protect budding tyrants with absolute power over the commenters on their review page. If a review is bad or false and you call it out in comments, the author of that dubious review can simply delete your comment (along with any other negative comments) and keep the review unchallenged.

At least Amazon has a safeguard or two in place. To be honest I've stopped putting too much stock into reviews on Goodreads, it's too much diluted with reviews written by people who just want to hear themselves speak.

As for the rest I agree with you Kate, I am also planning to keep using Goodreads to keep note of the books I've read, though probably having an offline backup is not such a bad idea. Maybe worth checking out a way to export content of "My Books" as backup.

message 9: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3984 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "one of the reasons I write reviews, even though I have written some that were quite time consuming, is that it helps me remember the book."

Me too. Additionally I know that my friends will see them and maybe become interested in reading or discussing with me

message 10: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 722 comments Kateblue wrote: "To Ed -- one of the reasons I write reviews, even though I have written some that were quite time consuming, is that it helps me remember the book. [...] Too often over the years I have found myself 50 or 100 pages into a book and realize I have read it before. "

That is one of my 2 main reasons to use this site: to remember what I've read, in part so I don't accidentally read it again 10 years later. The other reason is to keep track of things I've heard about which I might want to read later.

I have begun to write more reviews now that I have some "friends" who are active on the site. But I still don't feel compelled to review everything. I have occasionally, but only rarely, used the section of the review that lets you add private notes for yourself.

message 11: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 722 comments Art wrote: "The reason I avoid writing any reviews on Goodreads is due to the disturbingly objectionable system they have in place. Reviewers are not moderated in any way and I've seen plenty of dishonest reviews..."

I have seen a bit of spam, but have not encountered any truly bad behavior on this site. That surprises me because so many other public sites are full of disturbing behavior. Maybe I've just been lucky here. I also don't tend to read many books about politicians, politics or celebrities, and that is probably where the worst behavior is.

I suppose that if I did see a review that was flagrantly dishonest, I wouldn't try to comment directly on it, but might add my own dissenting review.

message 12: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "I have seen a bit of spam, but have not encountered any truly bad behavior on this site. That surprises me because so many other public sites are full of disturbing behavior. "

I agree, the overall experience has been great and you don't see too many trolls around anymore. Not sure whether it's Amazon that deserves the credit or not.

In any case, can hardly imagine not being able to use Goodreads to track all the books that I've read or would like to read in future.

message 13: by Jeff (last edited Aug 24, 2018 05:38PM) (new)

Jeff F I give 5 stars only to novels that rocked my world, and made me think about them (or the characters within) long after I've closed the book, or to novels that have a brand-new original concept.
An example of the former would be Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, and an example of the latter would be Ringworld by Larry Niven.
Novels that I [merely (lol)] really really liked get 4 stars.
In other words, I try to reserve the top rating of 5 stars for novels that are significant and/or profound, either personally or to the community at large.

message 14: by Atl (new)

Atl (dark_leo) | 115 comments I’d actually welcome guidance on writing book reviews. It helps cement the book in my mind.

message 15: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Aug 26, 2018 11:08PM) (new)

Kateblue | 4055 comments Mod
Atlanta, I don't really write reviews as a true reviewer would. Most of what I review is just a few notes about what I liked or didn't because there have been a million people out there who reviewed them before me. So I don't bother with a rehash.

Sometimes I don't even put a review out for others to read, particularly if I didn't finish a book (tho' sometimes I do even if I DNF). If you are not actually reviewing, there's a way to write notes just for yourself here on GoodReads ("GR")

Oleksandr in this group writes some pretty good reviews. You should friend him or at least follow his reviews, and then you will see them. I get emails when he posts one.

Also, I met a person called Dee Arr here on GR right when I joined up last winter. She writes reviews all the time and gets new books to review sometimes, I forget where from. So she's good. You could follow her here on Goodreads (or even friend her) and just read her stuff.

I say . . . Look for others here on GR whose reviews you like and just follow or friend them. (My GR friend Nente is a good reviewer, too, but about half of hers are in Russian, so that doesn't help me much. Do you speak Russian?)

message 16: by Bryan, Village Idiot (last edited Sep 11, 2018 09:10AM) (new)

Bryan | 480 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "Please talk about the green, yellow, and red secondary rating system you have. To me, red would mean "STOP never ever read this" :-)"

Hey Kate, I think it would be better to answer this question here.

I haven't answered this question yet, mostly because I don't really do reviews. I only check the stars and I have my own rating system I use on my spreadsheet.

My rating system I use on my spreadsheet is broken up in two parts. I rate the book itself with the standard 1 to 5 stars, 5 being the best. Then I rate my likelihood of rereading/referring the book to another people, which I use a color coded system for (green, yellow, and red). I like this system because I can use one box on the spreadsheet to rate the book and I'm able to rate it from different perspectives.

I guess it is like how critics rate movies vs the average Joe. Critics may rate a movie as terrible or great, but the people feel the opposite, sometimes the critics and people have the same opinion. The Critics usually look at it from an artistic point of view and the people usually look at it from an entertainment point of view. Sometimes the movie is beautiful, but not entertaining and visa versa.

Also, I think it worth mentioning that I don't usually stop reading a book. I try my best to muscle my way through a bad book. I'll only stop reading it if I find myself avoiding reading all together or if it becomes a chore to read. To me, not finishing a book is the ultimate insult to the quality of the book. Its my way of saying "your work is so bad, I can't even gather enough energy to finish it."

So, all that to finally get to your question:
The number system is my way of rating the art/quality of the story and book itself. The color coded system is my way of rating the entertainment of the book. I like this system because I can rate a book in opposite ways. I can look at each part of the book.

Here are some of my ratings for the books we've read:
The Sheep Look Up = Red 4
The Einstein Intersection = Yellow 3
The Farthest Shore = Green 5
The Postman = Yellow 3
Tau Zero = Green 4
The Difference Engine = Red 1
Darwin's Radio = Yellow 4

message 17: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2338 comments Mod
I like Bryan's system, but to me the whole point of reading a review is to see if I'll like it enough to add it to my reading list, and a rating tells me very little because it's so subjective. I want a short paragraph to tell me about its style, its good points and bad points without relating the story to me. I can't stand it when someone writes a mile-long friggin' Cliff Notes version, that's just a complete spoiler for me, and tells me nothing about whether I should read it or not. Besides, and not to be Dougie Downer here, but if our common goal is to read all the H/N winners, we already have our reading list and a review won't change that. Reading outside the list, yes (cheating on the group, despicable), but that's all personal taste and back to subjective. I guess you can gather that I don't write or read many reviews.

message 18: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4055 comments Mod
I was just interested in the red yellow green thing.

So if it's green, you would like to read again (if there's time NOT) or likely refer to another

but red, not, with yellow in the middle. I like that idea.

My way of scoring is that anything that I reread or felt sorry when it was over, I rate 5 stars. So I have an overabundance of 5 stars.

I used to always finish books, but I just don't anymore. Life, short, so many books, so little time.

message 19: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
That double rating system Bryan's got going makes a lot of sense, I might hust adopt it myself... Hmm gotta think of a way yo implement it.

message 20: by Jeff (new)

Jeff F Allan wrote: "...our common goal is to read all the H/N winners, we already have our reading list...I don't write or read many reviews...."
Kinda with you on that, Allan. I enjoy reading the reviews of books I've already read, to see if others thought of it the same way I did.

message 21: by Victor (new)

Victor I would only add that ratings often help me prioritize which reads I want to start sooner than others. Especially helpful considering I'm only a little more than 10% through the hugos/nebulas list at this point.

Also, sorry for cheating on the group, lol (reading outside the list) -but I have my vices. I still enjoy when a good scary read raises those little hairs on the back of my neck.

message 22: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Zombie thread time!

message 23: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4055 comments Mod
Are you going to close this puppy down, therefore?

message 24: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Just reviving this thread to hear opinions of our newer members.

message 25: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Aug 25, 2019 09:02AM) (new)

Kateblue | 4055 comments Mod
Here's an interesting rating system that I just found while looking for something else entirely. It's the system of an author, but I have read nothing of hers. Nor have I read many of the books she mentions.

To me, this rating system is a way to distinguish between 4 and 5 star books, actually . . . Cake books, Breathtaking books, and Amnesia books. Interesting.

message 26: by Anthony (new)

Anthony (albinokid) | 183 comments I don’t have a scientific approach to my ratings, but here are some thoughts...

A 5-star book is one in which I feel that the author achieved something really special, in which every aspect was synthesized — style, theme, content, voice, quality of prose, plot — *and* it grabbed me both intellectually (in that I was always interested in continuing to read it) and emotionally (in that I really *felt* for the characters).

So a 4-star read is something that I very much enjoyed and was impressed by, but also was lacking in one or more of those areas to such a degree that I felt it couldn’t measure up to the same standard as my other 5-star reads.

Similarly, a 3-star read would be something in which even more of the crucial factors were lacking.

And a 2-star read is one that I had to actively struggle with to get through.

message 27: by Jemppu (last edited Aug 24, 2019 07:37PM) (new)

Jemppu | 88 comments Very much what Anthony detailed, but then there seems to be some of those so good ones, that even if they had flaws in execution or parts in plot you didn't really care for, overall they captured something which spoke to you so much, that it kinda forgave those flaws and upped the rating by a star or two.

And though less common, if there's some specific highly irksome thing in an otherwise literary masterpiece of a book, it can lower the rating too.

Also, the ratings are quite individual to each book too (or at most books within series). All 5-star ratings not all equal in comparison to one and other. It would be quite impossible to regard as equals a 50 page artbook and an epic fantasy tome of biblical proportions. Or an encyclopedia and a romance novel. Even if all of those had 5-star ratings.

I also sometimes leave books sit for a while after reading before rating them. Just to be sure how I feel about them after the hype or initial disappointment. Or until after a required re-read.

message 28: by Antti (last edited Aug 24, 2019 09:50PM) (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 848 comments Mod
I used to employ the fairly common system where 5* = great
4* = really good
3* = ok
2* = didn't really like
1* = awful

But then it was pointed to me that Goodreads stars have specific meanings: specifically, three stars doesn't mean "ok" but "good", two stars is "ok" and one star "didn't like it".

At first I didn't really appreciate the idea that three stars would be "good" (shouldn't three stars be "ok", since it us in the middle of the scale: not good, not bad?), but I decided to give the GR system a go. After all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

And after a very short time I realised the GR system was in fact superior to my old system. It used to be I never gave the book one star: if it was that bad, I just didn't finish it. I was only using four ratings out if five. But with GR system, I could just give one star to all the books I didn't like: now I was using the whole scale.

I also used to have trouble deciding whether a book was three-star or four-star. It seemed like half of the books I read were three-and-a-half-stars: not really good enough for 4*, but still better than "ok".

GR system fixed that, too: since 3* is "good", I could give that rating to all the books I was thinking as 3½*.

To summarize, I transformed my old ratings to GR system like this:
GR 5* = old 5*
GR 4* = old 4*
GR 3* = old 3½*
GR 2* = old 3*
GR 1* = old 1* and 2*

message 29: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3984 comments Mod
It seems there is a different number of degrees for good and bad. GR system cannot separate DNF and 'finished but hated'. I don't like to give 2* to an ok book, because for me ok is average, thus 3

message 30: by Stratos (new)

Stratos Chouvardas | 38 comments My rating system is simple; 5 stars to exceptional works that I really really enjoyed and didn' t want them to end. 4 Stars to great books with minor issues. 3 Stars to books I kinda liked and had some good elements. 2 Stars to books that weren 't horrible and I could finish them. And 1 star to the books that I hate sooooo much!

message 31: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4055 comments Mod
And here is the link from above I failed to post:

Cake books, Breathtaking books, and Amnesia books.

message 32: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 16, 2020 02:52PM) (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
I was thinking of revisiting my rating system and I'd love hearing from our members. For some time now I've been curious how my ratings would change had I rated every aspect of the book separately and then using the average as my final rating.

What parameters would you use to rate a book? I would like to keep it between 5 and 10, so I'm looking forward to the suggestions.

Here's what I have so far:


This is what I can think of off the tip of my head. Pretty sure I'm missing something.

message 33: by Kristenelle (new)

Kristenelle | 329 comments This is something I've been thinking about recently. My current system is pretty loosy goosy..

5 stars: Really enjoyable with solid writing. It transported me and/or really made me think.

4 stars: Pretty good, but not as good as my favorites.

3 stars: Meh. Just meh. It was ok. I got through it. It had good moments, but I didn't love it.

2 stars: It had some serious issues. Maybe it was boring or the writing was bad or something else. But I still finished it and it had some manner of redeeming quality.

1 star: Just terrible. Probably didn't finish it. Probably actively hated it.

message 34: by Kristenelle (new)

Kristenelle | 329 comments Scott wrote: "I'm not calculated about it and just rate what I feel.

5 stars: The best thing ever. Maybe there was something life-changing about it, or it just gave me a complete escape and carried me along lik..."

Just realizing our systems are very similar. :D

message 35: by Anthony (last edited Apr 16, 2020 05:18PM) (new)

Anthony (albinokid) | 183 comments This is a fun exercise. For me:

5 stars: The book succeeded in pretty much every aspect of what its author was attempting to do (as far as I can glean, of course) *and* it was written in a manner that moved and/or inspired and/or excited and/or impressed me in an exceptional manner. It’s a book I can’t easily shake upon completing it, a book that makes me feel deeply enriched for having read it.

4 stars: The book succeeded in almost every aspect of what its author was attempting to do, but some significant aspect didn’t reach the highest heights of a 5-star read. For me, that often means it didn’t reach my heart as deeply as a 5-star read might have. It’s still a very enjoyable, impressive, and worthy experience, one I didn’t regret in any manner.

3 stars: This is in many ways the toughest one to quantify. I have read 3-star books that left me very grumpy, and 3-star books that felt fine but never really impressed me enough to push them to a 4-star rating. I might really appreciate one or more aspects of it — characterizations, world-building, the quality of the sentence-to-sentence writing; but one or other aspects of it might drive me up a wall. So ultimately it’s an example of something that really falls in the middle, but which could still have some very enjoyable aspects.

2 stars: Its charms were few, and reading it made me angry. Felt like a waste of he investment.

1 star: It was a steaming pile of irredeemable hot garbage.

message 36: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 17, 2020 10:09AM) (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Though everyone's approach is very similar to what I've been doing, I think Anthony really nailed it. That is pretty much how I'm judging my reads these days.

The only problem (for me) I see in this approach is that I've noticed that I would be constrained to rate a certain book based on my mood or the books I've read before. I even started reviewing the books this year because I wanted to use that opportunity to praise those parts that I liked even though the book didn't do it for me.

I'm trying to revise the system so that it's a bit more accurate and less biased, because many factors determine my final rating and I'm not always objective about them (even though I try to be).

So to recap, here's what else I thought of:

Writing & Literary devices
Plot & Pacing
Theme & Message
World Building

The ones I'm still on the fence about are:

Attention to details
Concept vs Execution


message 37: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3984 comments Mod
I think (and behavior economics backs me) there always will be a bias and one's current mood will affect the rating. Therefore, I go with a flow, but try to mention in my reviews that I wasn't in mood for this read or the opposite

message 38: by Antti (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 848 comments Mod
Art wrote: "So to recap, here's what else I thought of:

Writing/Literary devices
World Building"

This was an interesting approach. I haven't thought about it, but I guess I subconsciously use something similar when I consider if a book is really five-star material or when I'm on the fence between three and four stars. If I had to make a list of my parameters, it would look something like this:

- Worldbuilding / Ideas: did the book include some ideas or great worldbuilding that made my head spin?
- Characters: Were the characters interesting and three-dimensional? Did they behave like real persons?
- Plot: was the plot engaging? Did it resolve in a satisfying manner?
- Sense of wonder / immersion / attention to detail: did the book made me go "ooh" or "wow"? Did I lose myself in the world it described?
- Emotional core / consistency: did the book have a solid and consistent emotional focus? Did it made me feel intensely?

This last part is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, since I've criticized many of the books I've read this year from the lack of emotional consistency or focus (I'm especially looking at you, The Vor Game, and you, Embers of War). When a book doesn't seem to know what it really tries to say or what kind of book it really is, I get frustrated.

message 39: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 17, 2020 06:00AM) (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Antti wrote: "When a book doesn't seem to know what it really tries to say or what kind of book it really is, I get frustrated."

All interesting points, Antti, especially this last one. The problem is that I couldn't quantify it every time, but I sure as hell knew whenever I actively disliked a book for this.

message 40: by Gabi (last edited Apr 17, 2020 05:30AM) (new)

Gabi | 560 comments Reading through all of those points I guess they all play together automatically on a subconscious level, even if one doesn't set out to follow a logical rating system.

I used to have all kinds of books in the 3 star, but try to push more and more down to 2 stars nowadays to leave 3 stars still as the entertaining category. I still often find myself giving 3 stars for books I didn't like because so many others gave them high ratings and I feel unfair for not liking it. This is something I try to get rid of (it's not easy though).

I never gave 1 star, because for me that means the author totally failed at their writing. And that I never experienced so far. Authors only failed completely to meet my taste.

4 stars is for great books, and 5 stars is for books that managed to move me. If a book manages to get me emotionally (for whatever (positive) reason) then it's 5 stars.

message 41: by TomK2 (last edited Apr 17, 2020 08:38AM) (new)

TomK2 (thomaskrolick) | 312 comments A good thread for a good question! Some books I just couldn't be bothered to write something, so they get a star rating that adheres to the Goodreads monikers. Most books I will write something about. I rarely if never give a summary of the plot, although I have read others that do, so there is some utility in that. I typically speak in generalities: the plot was well developed, the characters were interesting, stuff like that. I will object to flaws generally or specifically. Most of the time what I write is just a justification for what star rating I used, and to verbally give or take away that non-existent half star that makes the rating more accurate.

However, there are books that were 3 or 4 stars that I bumped up to 5 for being completely original, or being good enough to end up copied or parodied for years or decades afterward. One example, Planet of the Apes: I thought the first movie was better than the original book, but I bumped the book up for being the original. Dracula is another. P.K. Dick has a whole bunch of works that the original concept was his decades earlier, but updating it for a modern movie was better than his original work. P.K. Dick gets a bump up in rating for that.

When I read more in a shorter time, my ratings tend to be lower. If I have recently read a 4 or 5 star book, the current read might have a hard time being put in the same category. But if I haven't read much in a while, a good 3 star book can feel so good it gets a bump up. Therein lies the subjectivity of ratings?

Ultimately, the star rating system skews things to the positive side. Rating a book you hate gives it a point. There are no negative stars. If there were, a book with a 4 star average would mean a lot more that it does now!

message 42: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Richter (stephenofskytrain) | 25 comments My rating are kind of Simple. If it keeps me up late, if it gives me separation pangs, 5 Stars. 4 stars means I really liked the book but it got lost a few times in the telling. 3 Star means the book had promise but lack a few essentials or my brain was not ready for it. 2 stars, not for me and either by writing style or plot that has been there and done that. 1 star is rare as I give up before finishing generally. Good job in getting it published.

message 43: by Kristenelle (new)

Kristenelle | 329 comments Do you guys rate/review books you don't finish? It occurs to me that I never give 1 star ratings because I don't rate books I don't finish. I figure it isn't really fair to rate if I don't finish because maybe I missed something in the end that made it better...or I don't know. Maybe I just don't grok it and it is unfair for me to lower its rating when others think it is great.

message 44: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 560 comments I only ever DNF'd one book, and I gave it 2 stars, because it was a case of non-compatibility of the author's prose and my taste and not the fact that the book was so bad.

message 45: by TomK2 (new)

TomK2 (thomaskrolick) | 312 comments I was reading someone else's review who had a self imposed policy of not rating a book if they did not reach the 50% point. While completely arbitrary, I think you are entitled to a complete review of any book that you don't want you to read the second half. You gave that author more than a fair opportunity.

It seems a zero star rating would be good option for DNF and books you really disliked.

message 46: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 17, 2020 10:32AM) (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
I try not to DNF, I'm too OCD for that. That being said I have a folder named unfinished and a single title A Prayer for Owen Meany in it. Many of the parts I hated with passion, I should probably revisit it at some point but I doubt I can endure that again.

4.23 rating on Goodreads, my my..

message 47: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2338 comments Mod
I’ve forced myself to read listed books but if something outside the list was really a POS, I’d DNF it and probably not even deign to rate it. If Nova Express hadn’t been listed....

Definite trend toward the positive. My own ratings are inconsistent and I’m reluctant to rate anything less than 3 stars, giving a strong central tendency. So I don’t put much stock into them. A book might not be to my taste but someone else might really like it. I’ll glance over a few reviews to get some flavor for it but I like them short and sweet - I don’t need a whole frickin’ synopsis before you tell me what you thought (no offense to any reviewers here, just personal taste).

message 48: by Joe (new)

Joe Santoro | 232 comments Interesting topic that I hadn't looked at before! I almost never not finish a book I start... if I really dislike it I might skim some, but it has to be pretty horrible indeed for me not to finish it.

I'm not a huge fan of ratings overall, since, as this thread shows, everyone does their own thing.

For me, I generally try to save a 5 star rating for books that were not just good, but that I would actively recommend to others and that I would be likely to consider reading again.

a 4 star rating is a good I enjoyed, but either had one particular flaw that annoyed me, or just was not unique or special enough to warrant 5 stars (this will also often be the rating of a book in a long series I like, but for a particular entry that doesn't stand out among the others)

3 stars would be a book that a read though without issue, but that bugged me in some way. Or sometimes it'll be a book that I didn't like, but the writing style or the ideas warranted some interest such that I be ready to read other books from the authors.

2 stars are for books that had little to redeem them, but for some reason (maybe it was a page turner, or had a particular character I liked), it was totally useless.

1 star books are things I actively would discourage others from reading, that I really, really hated and would be such that I would need alot of convincing to read another book from the author. (Chuck wendig's Star Wars books and Jeff van der Meer qualify in this category).

message 49: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 26, 2020 07:14PM) (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Alright, it's now time to put my new rating system to the test. I already see its potential shortcomings. Here's what I'll try going with and I'll adjust if it will fall short of satisfactory:

Writing & Literary devices
Plot & Pacing
Theme & Message
World Building

message 50: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 26, 2020 07:13PM) (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Before reviewing Leviathan I already imagined that I would've given it a 3* rating, but assigning the individual values to all of the parameters that make it or break it for me was pretty exciting.

I guess this system might get strained in the extremes, for those books I absolutely love or hate, but I'm satisfied so far! It gave me the impression of being more accurate in its honesty and its objective approach in evaluating different aspects of the book. There are cases when the dialogues are absolutely cringy, but the plot and the world building is 10/10 and I think that acknowledging that is important for me.

Gotta think whether to work any these into the equation or not:

Attention to details
Concept vs Execution
Misc. (For any extra points)

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