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What's your star rating system?

Over on Goodreads, I just posted a review of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. I gave it three stars, which (for me) means it was good but not great and that I don't expect to read it again.

So far, I've rated more than a hundred books on Goodreads. less than half of them got more than three stars from me, and less than a dozen got five.

I sometimes wish we didn't have the star rating system because unless you're familiar with the reviewer's method, it's hard to tell what it means - what I would give four stars, other folks who got the exact same level of enjoyment from it would give five or even three etc.

Here's my star rating system:

   Excellent. This book now has a permanent place on my 'Read it again' pile

   Wonderful read. I'll most likely read this at least once more at some point.

   Good but not great. I don't expect to read it again, but I'd have no problem recommending to someone else. 

   Disappointing. Not necessarily because of the way it's written (although that may be the cause). It could be that I expected something different.

  Personally, I would never actually post a one or zero star review. If I disliked a book that much I'd rather just pretend I'd never read it. 

How about you?

What's your star rating system?

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( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 20th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
I don't use a star or numbered rating system, and you pretty much covered the reason why. It's too open to misinterpretation, and unless the reader knows me the system means very little. Trying to place an objective analysis on a subjective experience is a very difficult thing to do.
Apr. 20th, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC)
Trying to place an objective analysis on a subjective experience is a very difficult thing to do.

It certainly is :)
Apr. 20th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
Pretty much the same as yours, but I'm rarely moved to review a book unless I loved it (5 stars) or hated it (1 star). I've been reviewing more this year for the UF/Horror reading challenge. Some of those books have been solid three stars, but when I write the reviews I always find myself concluding by saying I really enjoyed the book, so to me, the star system doesn't really mean a whole lot!
Apr. 20th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
I think it's useful for an 'at a glance' summary of what other folks thought of a book, but otherwise I agree, they don't mean a lot.
Apr. 20th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
Your star ratings seem to coincide with mine.

As to giving a one star review, I actually did that a couple of days ago. Partly it was to express my frustration and partly because I'm practising writing reviews, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, trying to get into the habit of writing them.
Apr. 20th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
I think if a book was traditionally published and I hated it, I'd have to assume I missed something.
(no subject) - heleninwales - Apr. 20th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
The number of stars I give a book has mostly to do with how I felt while reading it. Did I love it, couldn't wait to get back to it when I had to stop? 5 stars. Liked it a lot, but thought it could have been better? 4 stars. Liked it OK, but flawed? 3 stars. I've rarely given 2 stars, and if something's bad enough for 1 star I most likely gave up well before finishing.
Apr. 20th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
"...if something's bad enough for 1 star I most likely gave up well before finishing."

Good point. For many years I used to finish every book I started, but eventually I learned that with so many books to read, sometimes you have to quit when you're behind :)
(no subject) - lizziebelle - Apr. 20th, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 20th, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
I'm regretting using stars, as I gave three-star reviews to books that I quite liked, but that I thought had certain issues or flaws... but now I discover that a lot of people consider three stars practically a kiss of death, and I had genuinely liked the books that I gave three stars to.

But to answer your question, I use the stars to mean what Goodreads suggests.
Apr. 20th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean about 3 stars. I don't think of it as a 'bad' review. So many books seem to have nothing but 5 stars, which seems very strange to me.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Apr. 20th, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
The only time I press the star rating button is on EDF - and usually I will only rate it if I think it deserves a better rating than what is showing. As for books - if i did rate with stars - I think the book would have to be phenomenal to get a five. To me a five would reflect a book which would be difficult to top. I sometimes think that the star system is slightly flawed in that readers tend to go to the bottom or the top of it and not maybe where many books actually belong (in the middle).
Apr. 20th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
I like EDF too. I find it easier to give star ratings for flash fiction. I suppose with less than a thousand words, there's not so much to base a decision upon.
Apr. 20th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
Mine is very close to yours, except that a 5 rating might also mean that it changed the way I view the world, even if I don't read it again.
Apr. 20th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
... 5 rating might also mean that it changed the way I view the world

I'm just happy if it makes me laugh and/or cry :)
Apr. 20th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
You've made me realize that we should have an explanation of our star ratings accompanying our review pages--it varies more than I realized from person to person.

I don't review at Goodreads, but when I have reviewed novels, I chose only books that I've enjoyed or respected. So far, I've chosen not to review something if I didn't like it, unless I still thought it deserved four or five stars for its market (just not my taste).

My star-rating also was not based on whether or not I'd read a book again. For books I read that were not in my usual genre, I rated based on whether I thought fans of that genre would enjoy it. For books that I chose for myself, I rated based on my enjoyment or appreciation of their art. I think your three-star rating would be my five-star rating. It's rare I read a book twice: perhaps ten in my whole life?
Apr. 20th, 2011 06:06 pm (UTC)
I read lots of books again and again. It's like revisiting old friends :)
Apr. 20th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
I'm less than enthused by having to pick star ratings. In fact, I'm fairly sure I'm not as consistent in my criteria as you are, mostly I tend to go on instinct. I'm probably a touch more generous than you are in granting of stars. But then I'd rather give the benefit of the doubt to the author when possible.

On the other hand, I've no qualms about handing out a two or one star rating if I honestly believe it merits that rating. And of course, there's Catcher in the Rye, which deserves negative ten stars, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.

If I have zero stars as a rating, that just means I haven't rated the book, not that I think the book is bad. I've lots of books with no stars because I haven't gotten around to reading or rating them. But I use Goodreads and Libarything as cataloging sites, to list all the books I own, with a side benefit of sharing what I think about some of them.
Apr. 20th, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC)
I don't really think of it as giving a book the benefit of the doubt. To me, 3 stars is a perfectly good rating. Two or less? Not so much :)
(no subject) - temporus - Apr. 20th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 20th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2011 06:34 pm (UTC)
I equate the stars with letter grades.

A - *****
B - ****
C - ***
D - **
F - *

But, as I said above,
I rarely give a book fewer than four stars,
even if I think it deserves only three;
and I rarely post a review of anything I didn't like.
There is no shortage of trolls people willing to dogpile at any moment.
Apr. 20th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
There is no shortage of people willing to dogpile at any moment.

That's very true.
Apr. 20th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
My rating system is pretty similar to yours. I usually end up giving most books a 3 or 4. I'm pretty stingy with my 5's. As for 2 or 1, if it sucks that bad, I won't stick with it to the end (& thus I'd never get around to rating it).
Apr. 20th, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
I usually find if there's a book I'd give less than a three star rating to, it's usually just because it's not my sort of book, rather than it being bad.
Apr. 20th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
This makes me smile in a big way; I think you know why. :-D
Apr. 20th, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC)
Because you saw I gave Peadar's next book minus fourteen stars? :)
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Apr. 20th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
we speak the same rating system language. i give VERY few books five stars. those are the books that i will ALWAYS own. the books i read when i'm needing a great read. most of my ratings are between 3 and 4. lately more 3's than 4's. but i figure creating a good story is a GREAT thing. i would be happy to get "good" for a story.
Apr. 21st, 2011 12:02 pm (UTC)
For Fur-Face I've only had one 3 star rating on Goodreads so far, but the reviewer said lots of nice things about it and nothing bad, so I'm quite happy.
Apr. 20th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
Oh! And I think I gave Graveyard three stars. I felt weird about it because soooo many people LOVED it. "Why don't I love this book? I must be dense." It was just okay. Hmmm? I may have given it two stars (that is OK on GR). Gaiman is hit or miss for me. I soooo adored Anansi Boys and Coraline. Neverwhere and Graveyard...meh. I liked Good Omens a lot. Haven't read American Gods, yet.
Apr. 21st, 2011 12:03 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed the Anansi Boys until the last third, when it all went magical. Otherwise, I though it was absotively marvelous :)
(no subject) - tracy_d74 - Apr. 21st, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
I've got to think about my rating system, but I found The Graveyard Book one I will definitely re-read. Maybe not for the same reasons that I re-read Anansi Boys or Good Omens, but for thinking about writing and technique, because its spareness makes its bones easier to identify.
Apr. 21st, 2011 12:04 pm (UTC)
I loved the premise of The Graveyard Book
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