The Sword and Laser discussion

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Your Philosophy for Rating Books

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message 1: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Back when I was in college, I used to post reviews of TV shows on Usenet, rating each episode on a scale of 0-10. Except, I never gave anything a 0 or 10. My view was that nothing, no matter how awesome, deserves a perfect score, and nothing, no matter how awful, deserves an absolute zero (though Star Trek: Voyager really put that to the test). Even Hamlet is only a 9.9999.

Goodreads, unfortunately, only allows me to use integers, so I guess I have to round some things up to five stars, though in my heart I'll tell myself it's only a 4.9. The scale I've come up with for myself is:

0 = didn't even finish.
1 = took serious effort not to say, "Book, meet wall."
2 = enjoyable, but with major reservations.
3 = perfectly satisfactory.
4 = my enjoyment far exceeded any flaws I noticed.
5 = in the top 10% of the books I've read.

Anyone else have a method for assigning scores?


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2844 comments I actually have mine in my profile. I never thought to give 0 stars - if I don't finish a book I remove it from my account. I've started to rethink this since I've seen some people who have an "abandoned books" shelf, which is brilliant.


5 stars - amazing, life-changing, I will buy a copy if I don't own it
4 stars - solid, good book, might even read again someday
3 stars - okay but not my style, or it didn't live up to the hype
2 stars - just not great, nothing special
1 star - surprised I finished it, a disappointment.


message 3: by Leighann (new)

Leighann (zhelenstilo) 1 = Didn't finish (never used out of 218 books on my read shelf).
2 = I finished it, but it was close. Or perhaps a book that would be a 3, if not for an ending that really, really pissed me off. (I rarely use this one either. Just once so far.)
3 = I enjoyed it well enough, but it wasn't anything great.
4 = I rather enjoyed it. (I give a lot of 4 stars.)
5 = I really, really liked it. Often I wish these books didn't have to end. (Though at the same time, I'm glad they did, because I wanted to know how the story works out.)

Not too descriptive, I know, but it's highly subjective for me.

That said, I prefer not to rate books I don't finish at all, so I have never given a 1 star rating. Were I still at a point in my life with required reading, like in school, that might be a different matter. I'm pretty sure some of those books from high school would be getting 1 star ratings for me... just for being boring, no matter how "classic" other people claim they are.


message 4: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4132 comments I'm only rating books I finished, too. But I'm using Goodreads' suggestion of
1 star = didn't like it
2 star = it was OK, nothing great, wouldn't say I "liked" it
3 star = liked it
4 star = really liked it
5 star = amazing (reserved for books that really hit me in a certain way, or ones I reread often because they're just that good)


message 5: by Micah (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments I try to keep my star rating system even across media and sites. So I am going to try and rate as I would on Netflix.

1 Star=hated it so much that i wish i could quit reading, but couldn't because then I would never find out how this crappy book ends. And it will drive me so crazy that I would have to slog thorough it again just to find out

2 Star=gave me that "EH" feeling.

3 Star=Enjoyed but not enough to read again

4 Star=Really liked it might read it again one day when i forget what happened in it

5 Star=I loved this dang book so much that I will read it over and over again and enjoy it this much every time


message 6: by Nemaruse (new)

Nemaruse Neoxeekhrobe Hulkonnowolf | 33 comments I have two systems.

First, if she is reading it, I am reading it. In other words its a 1.

Second, if it captures my imagination then its 1 and if not then 0. Simple and straightforward. If you know me, you know the book. :)


message 7: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Littler (alittler) | 24 comments 5 - I dropped it while reading or use quote it often in conversation (when I read the twist at the end of Enders Game, the 'Adam/Eve vs -1' argument in Golden Compass'

4 - a really good book that I do not quote (Eleanor Rigby)

3 - a book I wanted to finish

2 - a book I finished only because I payed for it (anything Dan Brown)

1 - a book I did not finish (Daemon)


message 8: by Louis (last edited Mar 14, 2010 01:38PM) (new)

Louis (osiramon) | 60 comments I don't rate books until I finish or I decide to completely drop it. That has only happened to about 5 books.

5 - Is for my favorite books. Around top 5-7 percent, or ones that made me read a particular genre (not just an author). Example is Have Space Suit will Travel by Heinlein. It doesn't hold well to today's standard but was important to me when I read it.

4 - I really liked the book and will reread. If it's the first in a series, it made me go get the rest of the series. Sometimes it happens in the middle of the series.

3 - I like the book though it may be one that is similar to many other. May be predictable but fun. Comedic books and series can fall under this version of rating quite easily.

2 - Don't like the book or the premise. The characters were flawed or the mind imagination in the writing was lacking or inconsistent. May make me drop the series from future book purchases if more come out.

1 - Did not like. Will be less than 5 percent of books I read. I normally read a few lines on the book and can generally tell if it's not going to be worth my while. I probably cannot get into the book at all.

0 - No stars and not reading anymore will be put into awful tag. Probably a bad gift.

Note that of all, I tend to re-read all 3-5s. Keeps me from spending too much on books. As it is, I get about 120-150 new ones a year.


message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael Minutillo (wolfbyte) I think my rating style has changed over my Goodreads history. My system currently goes:

1 - I'd actively tell people not to read this book
2 - I didn't hate it. I'll never read it again
3 - I enjoyed it. I'll probably never read it again
4 - Loved it. I'd recommend it to others
5 - Really loved it. I'd buy it for someone else to read


message 10: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 10 comments When I was new to GoodReads, I wrote this short blurb on my rating philosophy:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...

I just re-read and reviewed it and I'm sticking by what I said in November 2008. :)


message 11: by Missy (new)

Missy (booksofmissy) | 14 comments I don't review books unless I have finished them but that is pretty easy as I am undiscriminating and have only not finished 3 books in the last 20 years.

0 - made me ill or made me wish I had never read it
1 - bad book bad writing style bad message
2 - meh book
3 - good for passing the time
4 - enjoyed it would recommend it to friends
5 - life changing book a must read and rare


message 12: by Hope (new)

Hope (littlehope) | 82 comments I don't usualy rate books if I think they are a 1 or a 2...

1. I hated this book.

2. I disliked this book, but had a few good/funny moments....

3. I liked this book, I might reread it but isn't the greatest book out there.

4. I really liked this book, loved it even.

5. LOVED this book!

Most books will be a 4 or a 5 because I don't usually bother rating anything lower.


message 13: by Harold (new)

Harold Ogle | 38 comments As a discipline this past year, I've tried to review everything I read, before I start reading anything else, though that is problematic at times for some of the kids' books I read - composing the review often takes longer than reading them - and also is a problem because I often am reading multiple books "at once:" alternating between fiction and non-fiction, for instance. Still, I find that a major value of GoodReads is to track both whether I've read a particular book, what I thought of it, and what the rough plot was. These three items, which I try to contain in every review, are a tremendous help to me because I go through a large enough volume of books that in the past I have found myself re-reading books simply because I wasn't sure whether I'd read them before or not.

Here's what my ratings mean:

1 - I disliked this book, and will undoubtedly present it as an example of a "bad book."

2 - The book, taken as a whole, did not leave more of a positive or negative impression. This could be a well-written book with absolutely terrible characters (such as The Darkness That Comes Before), it could be a nice plot that had sub-par craft in the writing (Dragons of Autumn Twilight), or it could be a book that was just...blah (The Mysterious Benedict Society).

3 - The large majority of books I read are books I end up liking, because their virtues outweigh their faults. These I give a 3, and happily recommend to others. Before I rated and reviewed everything, most of the books I would accidentally re-read would be in this rating category: good to enough to read again, not fantastic enough to be unforgettable.

4 - Books I really, really liked and would strongly recommend to others, with a high likelihood of wanting to add to my library and intentionally re-read from time to time.

5 - Books I loved, which I actively push on friends, acquaintances and random passers-by, regularly re-read, seek to own, give often as gifts, and, occasionally, record as audio books for my own amusement.


message 14: by Sonic (last edited Oct 11, 2012 03:00AM) (new)

Sonic Alpha (sonicalpha) | 21 comments I've been making a habit of reviewing the books I've read this year, and this is my rating scale.

1 - An utterly dreadful book, with no redeeming qualities. This book belongs in that special place in hell, that people who talk in theatres belong in.

2 - A particularly unsatisfying book, or tough read (where I've wanted to stab myself in the eyes with a spork). I wouldn't be interested in reading more in the series, or anything by the same author.

3 - A satisfactory book, and I'd consider reading more in the series or more books by the author.

4 - A great book, and would definitely read more by the author.

5 - An amazing read, or favourite book. I'd buy further books in the series (or books from the same author) instantly. I'd also recommend 5 star books to friends/family/random people in the street.


message 15: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (masupert) | 215 comments I go with the netflix ranking

1= Terrible
2= Didn't Like
3= Like It
4= Really Liked
5= Classic

This helps to keep my average ranking down, around the 3 level at the bell curve.


message 16: by Brian (new)

Brian (herkamur) | 24 comments I've been thinking about this lately and wondering how others viewed it. I see that many see it similarly to my rating system. For comparison my simple rating system goes like this:

1) hated it
2) disliked it
3) it was OK
4) liked it
5) loved it

Most of my reads wind up with a 4 or 5 rating. The book I just finished 15 minutes ago got the lowest rating I've ever given, a 3.


message 17: by David(LA,CA) (new)

David(LA,CA) (davidscharf) | 327 comments I try to follow the scale set by Goodreads. If my average is anything to go by, I seem to give most things a 2 or a 3. Which I would agree with. I think the only 5s I've given out recently have been for books that I've lost sleep to continue reading.


message 18: by Ayesha (new)

Ayesha (craniumrinse) 5) Everyone should read this book. I buy books written by this author without reading the back cover's synopsis. Jim Butcher, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett.

4) Very good, but has some issues (usually plot holes). Jacqueline Carey's works usually end up here.

3) Average, C-. Probably won't re-read this book. Generally anything by James Patterson ends up in this category.

2) Not good. I could write a better book. The Host by Stephanie Meyers.

1) How did this get published and why did I buy it? There are a lot of shitacular romance novels that end up here.


message 19: by Leesa (new)

Leesa (leesalogic) | 639 comments 1. Didn't like it

I rarely finish a book I don't like. Or I might skim paragraphs to get the gist, then call it done. Even in school, if I didn't like the book, I didn't read it. I just listened in class when we talked about the book and got my As that way.

2. It was OK

This is the one that bothers me the most and why I wish I could give half stars. 2 stars looks like a bad rating, but it's not really. For instance, I might read a first in a series and think, eh, it was OK. If I wasn't all that impressed with the first book, but I expect there to be some growth or something, I will stick it out for the next couple books in the series.

3. I liked it

Might or might not continue with the series/author.

4. I really liked it

Will very likely continue with the series/author.

5. I loved it

I'll give 5 stars to a book if I think it is really different, challenges me, changes my life, whatever. Even if there's some issues I don't like in the book, if my overall impression was WOW then it gets 5 stars. Ready Player One is an example. Some of it was cheesy, some of it was dumb, I didn't like some things, but the book overall made me very happy and I found myself talking about it a lot with friends.

My ratings over time might change. Like I might finish a book (or movie) and give it a 5 right then and there but over time I might downgrade it. Or upgrade a book/movie I was at first ambivalent about but after completing the series, my opinion changed, for instance (I expect I will do this with Hyperion).

Saying that, I'm conflicted on if I should change my rating based on how I feel when I revisit my thoughts on the book. On the one hand, it reflects what I thought at at the time. On the other hand, it doesn't reflect what I think today.

So I think carefully about changing a rating. I mostly leave it with what I thought at the time, and if I reread/rewatch, I'll tune my rating.

One thing I might do is make a bookshelf like "used to love until my tastes changed" or something.


message 20: by Emy (new)

Emy (emypt) | 98 comments Here's a copy & paste from my profile. Note this is only for books I've finished or couldn't finish. Books I want to finish some time (e.g. lost the book, left it at Mum's or whatever) get their own shelf....:

5 - life-changing book (5* is a very rare rating for me therefore) e.g.: Lord of The Rings
4 - a book I would re-read, recommend to others freely, and generally REALLY enjoyed
3 - a good and solid read. Would recommend to others, if I thought it fit their tastes. Might re-read.
2 - Meh, it was OK, passed the time pleasantly enough but not something that makes me what to look out anything else by that author. Also includes books that I enjoyed on a totally different level to that intended (e.g. written as a serious novel, enjoyed as comedy - Hey there Twilight)
1 - Not going there again. Ever. Why did I waste my time on this?! (Also thankfully rare - Frankenstein I'm looking at You!)


message 21: by Rasnac (new)

Rasnac | 336 comments I used to have a rating system for movies, yet in time I discovered it is compatible to literature(and most forms of fiction) as well. It is a 10 point system instead of five.

0- Unreadable. Simply can not be identified as literature. Not even in the"it's so bad it's good" category.

1- Books that insults reader's intelligence.

2- Books that follow some simple, overused cliché plots and cheap marketing tricks. Mass-produced books.

3- Just simply bad books.

4- Good idea but poor execution. Happens mostly because of the author's lack of talent or creativity. Books that could be good if they were written by someone else.

5- A book that fulfills its basic premise. Not terribly original or inspiring but neatly done. Mediocre yet can be fun; not to mention easily forgettable.

6- Books that is pretty good except for that one little thing, that one aspect that did not work.

7- A good, solid book. Kinda books you say "That's it" when you read it.

8- Personal favourites. Books that speak to you, inspire you, leave a mark on your soul.

9- Best of its kind. A book that improves its genre. A modern classic.

10- A true classic. Books that you objectively acknowlede their superiority even if you don't personally enjoy the genre. Books that are milestones of literature.


message 22: by Harold (new)

Harold Ogle | 38 comments Rasnac wrote: "I used to have a rating system for movies, yet in time I discovered it is compatible to literature(and most forms of fiction) as well. It is a 10 point system instead of five.

...[snip]


How do you map that to GoodReads' five star system?


message 23: by David Sven (new)

David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments 5 - Liked it so much I will probably re read it at some point to repeat the experience.

4 - Liked it so much I want to read more by the same author

3 - Either didn't hate it or It was well written but not my thing.

2 - Didn't enjoy it

1 - Hated it - probably didn't finish it.


message 24: by Nikki (new)

Nikki (mage) I bounce between what Goodreads says and my own version:

1. Shit, utter shit.
2. Crappy, but not burn it in a fire.
3. Meh, whatever.
4. Good stuff man.
5. Holy crap that was amazing.

I give lots of things fours and fives. I'm both easily amused and very good at finding books I know I'll like.

Also I prefer a three point system - 1 is sucky, 2 is meh and 3 is good. Optional 4 to say that I recommend the book. I really don't care about the nuances of how good or bad something is.


message 25: by Dazerla (new)

Dazerla | 220 comments 1. Book has serious problems paticularly in lack of fully developed characters (cardboard and stereotyped characters), lack of character development or unrealistic character development, plo development, world development, or grammar and spelling.

2. Not my cup of tea, there's nothing wrong with it, I just personally didn't like it.

3. I enjoyed the story, what I consider to be a good story.

4. Really enjoyed it, what I would consider to be a great story. Will probably at some point re-read.

5. Absolutely loved it. If not a favorite close to it. Will definately reread it at some point.


message 26: by Bob (new)

Bob Chadwick | 37 comments I find it hard to rate a book as a 1 simply because I worry that it was ME who just didn't get the book, or care to get it. I put down the first (?) Malazan book because I felt like I was missing something. I kept googling it making sure it was the first book, but I still felt lost or under informed. I read thinking he was going to explain things at some point and because I liked most of it. Eventually I dropped it, maybe half way in, because I couldn't take it anymore. As a D&D player I enjoy extensive world building backgrounds but Malazan had new stuff but didn't tell me how it worked. I don't wasn't to rate it a 1 because what if I missed things? And because I didn't finish it.


message 27: by Emy (new)

Emy (emypt) | 98 comments Bob wrote: "I find it hard to rate a book as a 1 simply because I worry that it was ME who just didn't get the book, or care to get it..."

On this aspect I just try to remember that it's subjective. These aren't ratings on the book, but on how I perceive the book. It's useful on others too - if I know you really liked Book A, and so did I, then I'm more likely to read Book B that you really liked too, and vice versa too... On that understanding, I have no compunctions of 1 or even 0 stars on a book I really loathed...


message 28: by Kevin (new)

Kevin | 701 comments I stick more or less to the descriptions Goodreads themselves give to the star ratings:

1* I disliked this book. This can be for any number of reasons. Books I didn't finish because they're boring or rage inducing end up with an automatic 1 star too.

2* It was ok. This book wasn't bad per se, but it didn't leave much of an impression either. I'm not very likely to finish the rest of the series (if there is one) or to search out more from the author. Meh.

3* I like it. Good book, that I enjoyed reading. It might be just be a good book without anything more to say about it (for better or worse) or it might be a potentially great book that had something holding it back (lots of debut books end up here, for this reason). I probably will read sequels when I get around to it and will read other books from the author if they capture my interest.

4* I really liked it. Great book, this hits the sweet spot. I had an amazing time reading. Sequels get immediately bumped to the front of the to-read-pile, and the rest of the author's back list gets closely examined whenever I want something new to read. I might even pre-order their new books!

5* Perfection in book form. Something about this book made it more than just a really good read. It might've been the prose, it might've been the message, or it might just be a really awesome story, or a combination of all that. Whatever it was it resonated with something inside me. It gets enshrined in my personal pantheon. And whatever else the author does with his/her career I will always be grateful for this book.


message 29: by Joe Informatico (new)

Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments Sean wrote: "Anyone else have a method for assigning scores?"

In my head, my system is close to yours. But I might have drifted over time. My original thought was to avoid giving 5 stars to anything except utterly ground-breaking, top-of-the-form titles. But I might have relaxed that policy with more recent titles.

I'm actually becoming jaded with ratings. Maybe it's because I'm exposed to too many video game reviews, where rating inflation, conflict-of-interest, and abuse of the Four Point Scale are all too common. But I'm becoming increasingly wary of assigning a single number to summarize your subjective interpretation of a work of art or entertainment. Even here on Goodreads, where the community seems to really think about the scores they assign and not just 1 or 5-star everything. How do I say, "this book had some great characters but the plot was dull and uninspired" or "This book's plot was brilliant and the fact the characters were two-dimension wasn't relevant to the narrative" with a single number?


message 30: by Harold (new)

Harold Ogle | 38 comments Depending on your use for ratings, you don't say it with a single number.

That is to say, there are two uses for ratings, and both are valid. The first use - which I think most users employ primarily - is to indicate for oneself how much one liked/disliked the book. It's kind of a quick mnemonic assist, and so perfectly valid to just leave a rating as a reminder. When returning to the site in a hurry (on one's mobile phone at the library or bookstore, for instance), one can look up one's own ratings of books to glean two important data: has one read the book already, and how did one receive other books by the same author?

The other use, just as valid, is what I think most people who talk about ratings think of, which is to say ratings are a way of recommending to others. As we can see from this discussion, with this use case, a rating by itself is practically useless, because every user has wildly different interpretations of what each star rating means. So the rating is just an access point for a critique, which should explain and amplify the rating. Without the critique, each user has no way of knowing what you meant by your stars. Did you give one star because the book really was a literary excrescence that should never have been visited upon mankind, or just because you thought the author used too many similes for your liking (I've actually seen this one)? Did you give it five stars because it was one of the most amazing books you've read in years, or because you liked it? No way to know, without an accompanying critique.

So, my answer to your question? You say "this book had some great characters but the plot was dull and uninspired" or "This book's plot was brilliant and the fact (that) the characters were two-dimension(al) wasn't relevant to the narrative" by writing those things, or whatever is appropriate, in the critique. The rating is just a teaser to get us to read your critique. For this reason, I tend to read 2-, 3-, or 4-star "reviews" with much greater avidity, simply because they tend to be less ridiculous. People do still tend to rate on a 2-point scale (1 - didn't like it, 5 - liked it), or even a 1-point scale (5 if liked it, no rating if any other reaction), which makes the value of the 1- and 5-star ratings considerably less, unless I know and trust the user to give a more balanced critique. 2 - 4 stars means that there's both good and bad in the person's perception of the book, and I like to read why.


message 31: by Sky (last edited Oct 12, 2012 10:25AM) (new)

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments 1 Star - Using mainly cats, I carefully weigh the mass of the kindle version of the book against that of a toaster. Books that fail to provide satisfactory results end up here.

2 Star - Exactly five hours after reading the last sentence of this book (I may have skipped to it), I open it to a random page and pick the thirty-second word I see. Results follow as you might expect.

3 Star - I place the book in front of a Eurasian eagle owl and wait. Once the bird has grown accustom to the presence of the book, I quickly take it away. The bird must then turn its head counterclockwise.

4 Star - I begin by handcrafting a jar of red clay and placing a small pumpkin within it. After reading a choice selection of memorable lines from this book aloud to the pumpkin, I seal the jar and store it in a warm, dry location. After three days, I smash the jar and measure the electrical activity across the pumpkin's surface. It must appear as though the pumpkin is surprised but contemplative.

5 Star - I take the wedge product of the number of words in the books against my feelings about it, as interpreted through a series of coin flips. The result (real or imaginary) must be a transcendental number.


message 32: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6740 comments Mod
Sky wrote: "1 Star - Using mainly cats, I carefully weigh the mass of the kindle version of the book against that of a toaster. Books that fail to provide satisfactory results end up here.

2 Star - Exactly fi..."


I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.


message 33: by Daran (new)

Daran | 599 comments I read years ago that a five star system is just a letter grade system by another name so

1=F
2=D
3=C (passing grade)
4=B
5=A

Of course, that's still very subjective. The quandary I have is, what do I do about series? The Dresden Files, Wheel of Time, and Mythago Wood series all get unreserved As from me; but some of the individual books are C material (I'm looking at you Blood Rites). I tend to give all the books of a series the same number of stars, but I've never been comfortable with it.


message 34: by Ayesha (new)

Ayesha (craniumrinse) Sky wrote: "1 Star - Using mainly cats, I carefully weigh the mass of the kindle version of the book against that of a toaster. Books that fail to provide satisfactory results end up here.

Out of curiousity, why cats? I've found hamsters to be quite adaptable and generally uniform in weight and size. Gerbils are, for the obvious reasons, unacceptable.


message 35: by Sky (new)

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments Ayesha wrote: "Out of curiousity, why cats? I've found hamsters to be quite adaptable and generally uniform in weight and size. Gerbils are, for the obvious reasons, unacceptable. "

Cats have the temperamental range to offer meaningful commentary on the electron density of the ebook. Plus, they don't require wheels. Heaven knows I don't need to add the dynamics of a spinning frame of reference to the equation... it's only a 1 star book, after all.


message 36: by Ayesha (new)

Ayesha (craniumrinse) I swear it feels like I almost understand what you're saying. :)


message 37: by Rasnac (new)

Rasnac | 336 comments Harold wrote: "Rasnac wrote: "I used to have a rating system for movies, yet in time I discovered it is compatible to literature(and most forms of fiction) as well. It is a 10 point system instead of five.

...[s..."


Well, I must admit I did not originally think of this point system for GR, and most times when I rate books in GR I completely forget about it and go with my guts. :)

But I guess it can be converted to five star system like this: 0 and 1 is no star, 2 and 3 is one star, 4 and 5 is two stars, 6 is three stars, 7 is four stars, 8, 9 and 10 is five stars.


message 38: by Bryek (last edited Oct 16, 2012 11:30AM) (new)

Bryek | 273 comments Any book I didn't finish I do not give a rating. If I didn't finish I do not know how good it could have been so I shouldn't get to rate it.

1) I have only rated one book a one. I finished it but hated every moment of it The Innocent Mage. Nothing happens, never reached a climax.

2) Good enough to finish but not worth reading anthing else in that series (A Game of Thrones The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Graceling) These books could have been good books but were found seriously lacking

3) Will read the sequel but probably will never recommend it to anyone.

4) Enjoyed it and will recommend it to anyone.

4.5 that looks like a 5) Really good and read within a few days.

5) Will actively ask "have you read this book?" no? "You gotta read this book! here let me go find it, you gotta read it!" I force people to read these books.
The Name of the Wind Besieged


message 39: by Robert (new)

Robert Stubbs | 23 comments I have never thought about it but I suppose I would use a 5 star system myself if I was creating it.

5 - I really thought this book was awesome in some way and would happily read it over and over. I recommend that people read this book.

4 - I thought this book was pretty good and might pick up to read later 6 months or a year from now. I will recommend it to people I know if I am aware of their book tastes and it fits.

3 - I thought the book was ok to good but I am not that interested in reading it again unless it's all I have to do. I will only recommend if people are searching for material that the book fits if they've already read the better recommendations.

2 - This book is generating within me a feeling of meh that I have wasted my time reading it when I could have been folding socks or cataloging numbers instead. I will watch with suspicion anyone who says this book is great as they might go on a deranged rampage at any moment.

1 - This book made my eyes bleed and caused me intense mental suffering and I desire to slap the author with a lawsuit to recover from the pain. Anyone who says that book is good makes me call the mental hospitals to see if they have an escapee because I think I've located them.


message 40: by Bob (new)

Bob Chadwick | 37 comments It all ties back to my unwillingness to permanently brand something as horrible, to give it a 1. I've read to many reviews that go "This book failed to engage the reader at all. On all accounts the author never put anything interesting or exciting in the book. Even when they did it want good." And I'm thinking that I loved that book! I loved everything they hated and found interesting everything they were bored by. So it feels like I'm doing that when I rate something a 1.

Really I just want all reviews to be written in first person and never assume to say NOBODY will like it because you didn't.


message 41: by Sky (new)

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments Ayesha wrote: "I swear it feels like I almost understand what you're saying. :)"

I find that almost understanding is usually more important than actual understanding, and always more entertaining.


message 42: by Robert (new)

Robert Stubbs | 23 comments Bob wrote: "It all ties back to my unwillingness to permanently brand something as horrible, to give it a 1. I've read to many reviews that go "This book failed to engage the reader at all. On all accounts the..."

I can understand that unwillingness because I suffer it myself when I am trying to write a review.

However all books that are reviewed are done by an individual and if the book fails completely to their point of view then they owe the people reading their review that honesty.

Framing it in within the words 'of my point of view or utter similar reiterations' scattered throughout the review is a way to dodge the responsibility the reviewer has taken on.

It would be like putting in your reviews this phrase or others with different percentages "Well 97.3 percent of the people who read this book will hate it but that other 0.7 percent who will absolutely love it needs to be taken into consideration in my review as well."

All systems of grading are arbitrary at the heart of it based on what an individual or a collection of individuals decide.


message 43: by Maurine (last edited Oct 20, 2012 06:00PM) (new)

Maurine Tritch (maurinejt) My question has always been that if you give a 1 for "didn't like it", then what do you do for "completely hated it and bitterly regretted the time spent reading it" ? I do not give one stars lightly, and they are for the worst of the worst, just like my 5 stars are for the very best. So in between it logically follows that 2s are didn't like it, 3s are it was okay, liked it; didn't love or hate it. 4 stars are loved it but it had some flaws that prevented it from being outstanding; and five stars are among the best books I have read.

And allowing half stars would be a big help.


message 44: by Charlie (new)

Charlie | 46 comments 1- Didn't finish or just found the book awful both in story telling and in writing style.

2- Well Written but did not like the story.

3- Badly Written but enjoyed the story.

4- Would recommend or read again.

5- Not sure how I managed to enjoy reading without ever having read this book.


message 45: by Maurine (new)

Maurine Tritch (maurinejt) Darren wrote: "Maurinejt wrote: "My question has always been that if you give a 1 for "didn't like it", then what do you do for "completely hated it and bitterly regretted the time spent reading it" ? I do not g..."

I think there needs to be more acknowledgement of awful than within the body of a review; I consider 1 stars warning signs for future readers. They can read the review for the particulars of the awful.


message 46: by Rick (last edited Oct 21, 2012 11:43AM) (new)

Rick | 2781 comments Rating precision never really works because it relies on a close matching of what the rater and the person reading the rating mean by 3.5 stars vs 3 vs 4. For me, a rating is a category that's recognizable to a broad set of people... it's a quick way to say to others "I think it fits in THIS category." For details, there's the review.

I don't like 5 stars since it's easy to just give something that was decent 3, i.e. a 5 star system has a mid-point that lets the rater bail on giving a strong opinion. So, I usually us 4 stars plus a special:

Do Not Read. A book so awful it doesn't deserve a rating. Some brain cells will die from having to process this abomination.

1 star: Didn't like. Don't recommend. It's not technically incompetent with misspellings, etc. but I would not spend time or money on this book.

2 stars. Readable, not bad, but with significant flaws. I don't recommend this but can understand why others who can overlook the flaws or who value the good aspects might do so.

3 stars. Good to very good. Recommended. Has minor flaws but a book that I liked and feel comfortable recommending.

4 stars. Outstanding. No real flaws for me and a book that I found hard or impossible to put down. Shows excellence in every major aspect of fiction writing. Highly recommended.

On Goodreads, since it's 5 star system I reserve 1 star for the Do Not Read category and use 2-5 for the others.


message 47: by Tim (new)

Tim | 380 comments My definitions go something like this:

1 star: Don't. I mean really don't. It's not even good as a doorstop if someone gave it to you for free. Seriously.

2 stars: I didn't like this book, and I don't recommend it. I may not even have finished it.

3 stars: Okay. Possibly not my genre, but others might like it. Unlikely to re-read.

4 stars: Good. Really liked it. Will probably read this again.

5 stars: Holy cow, where have you been all my life? How did I manage to live before I read this. Alternatively, I'm reviewing my own work ;)


message 48: by Richard (new)

Richard 1 star -- poor plotting, lack of knowledge of English language, cartoonish characters, Lots of "!s" sprinkled in to indicate the feelings the author lacks the skill to represent with actual words. In short, a Harlequin romance novel.

2 star -- Ordinary effort, easily forgotten. There are many better options for the time spent.

3 star -- Decent effort, often the worst book in a series by a very good author having a rough patch.

4 star -- Very good all-around. A series author who meets my expectations and then some. A book I'd gladly spend money for.

5 star -- The reason I learned to read. Worth reading this time and rereading after a particularly bad 1-star experience.


message 49: by Tim (new)

Tim | 380 comments What I struggle to understand is the huge number of people who give 1 star reviews on Amazon for pretty much no readily apparent reason other than it (presumably) gives them a bit of an ego trip.


message 50: by Jack (last edited Jul 28, 2014 12:44AM) (new)

Jack (wineontheveldt) I tier everything in my head and have a hard time using the star system, but generally:

Tier 1 - Great. Something that only gets better with re-read/re-watch. (5+ Stars)

Tier 2 - Good. Something I won't read/watch again, but I'd probably still recommend it. (4-5 Stars)

Tier 3 - Decent. Something I don't necessarily regret reading/watching but also something I wouldn't recommend. (3-4 Stars)

Tier N/A - Everything else. Here I lump together everything I consider not worth reading/watching (or something I regret reading/watching). (0-3 Stars)


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