Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Sunday Symposium is a weekly feature in which I'll be discussing various bookish topics and asking for your commentary, as well.  This week, let's talk about how we rate books.

Reading is a personal experience.  Deciding what to read is even more so.  But most subjective of all is the reviewing process.  Each reviewer has their own method, and no two reviewers will review or rate every book they read the same.  This is the beauty -- and the flaw -- with having such an idiosyncratic process.  Some readers inevitably review books based on how the reading experience made them feel, while others stick to calculating every aspect of the book, down to the decimal point.

And then there are the ratings systems themselves.  Some rate with words.  Others with stars.  Some reviewers don't even use a ratings system!  The horror!  :P  As long as there's some way for you to show whether you'd recommend the book to me or not, I don't actually care if you use a rating system or what kind it is.  I don't skip the review and scroll right to the rating.  (Unless I'm really excited about the book and I want to know how you felt about it, without risking any spoilers.)

Honestly, I'm more of an emotional reader.  Mood reader.  Whatever you want to call it.  I rate books based on the level of glee I feel when I turn the last page.  I figure that I touch upon all of the important aspects of the novel in my reviews:  characters, world-building, writing style, etc.  That rating is just there to give you a general idea of how much enjoyment I took away from the book.  Or how little.

So, I'm wondering, how do you rate books?  Do you give them a grade?  Do you find yourself awarding stars for the feels?  Do you think you're a harsh judge or do you let a lot of less-than-perfect books squeak by with five stars because you just loved them, regardless of any faults?  Do you feel like you can't trust us emotional raters?  Do you even rely on ratings to guide your reading choices at all?  If you're a reviewer, do you use a rating system?

For me, it all depends on the book.  I critique some books harder than others, and it does depend a lot on the anticipation level prior to reading the book.  I don't have super-high expectations, but I want to love every book I read.  Who wants to spend precious hours reading a book that they're not enjoying?  And this is partially why I've actually started DNFing books recently.  But that's a discussion for another day.

Any and all commentary, chastising, and public flogging is welcome, as per usual.  And thanks for stopping by!


  1. I'm definitely an emotional reader. I rate by "stars", but my system isn't perfect by any means. I very, very rarely give 5 stars. I save my 5s for books I absolutely adored and will read again and again. I rarely give 1 star either. I've been a DNFer for years. My reading time is scarce, if I'm not feeling a book within the first 30-50 pages, then I will just move chances are if I hated a book that much (to give it 1 star) than I probably didn't finish it and I very rarely rate books I did not finish. The only time I rate a DNF is if I didn't finish it because something about it was particularly insulting. So most books get between a 2-4 and what determines that is purely emotional: how much I enjoyed the book, if it held my attention the entire time, and how I felt when I came to the last page.
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

  2. I take into account my mood sure but also all the important bits as well pacing, world building, character development etc... However, I hardly ever criticize bad grammar unless it is just beyond awful. I also use a star system and rate between 1-5 stars.

  3. I'm an emotional reader too. And I honestly like most of what I read so I'm not very harsh, I think. The farther I get into my blogging experience, the more harsher and picky I am, but still, I genuinely like a lot of books. Sometimes even if the story isn't 100% and I think some things are cheesy and lame, if I enjoy the reading experience and fly through it, my score will be a little higher. I've just started DNFing too.

  4. I rate on the satisfaction level. I hardly ever give anyone five stars because there's hardly ever nothing I want to change about a book. If I've read the same book a million times before, then it's not gonna get as good as a rating. That's a really good reason why most of my reviews are either rants or complaining and lots of the rating are 3 stars

  5. I only rate on goodreads, not on my blog. And sometimes it's just so hard to make up my mind! I don't give too many 5 star ratings, to accomplish that the book really has to have made an impression on me on both a stylistic and an emotional/personal level. I think I give 4 stars on average? Not sure.
    I don't want any star-rating on my blog - for me, this is my space to talk about the book and explain what I thought did/didn't work and what I did/didn't like. Stars are reductive and I think the reasons behind them are more interesting. Then again, I don't mind reading reviews that rate at the end, I just don't want to do it myself. I know how I feel about a book in this aspect and in that aspect but to actually transform that into a number isn't really my thing (what if I loved tha characters but the wriitng wasn't outstanding and the plot was predictable? How do I rate that?).
    I'm sometimes also divided about rating because sometimes I know that the book is actually good, I just didn't like it. You know what I mean?
    I'll shut up now... ^^''

  6. I am so, so happy that you're doing more Sunday Symposiums because I ADORE these posts! I loved how you articulated everything. But I don't technically rate things, because I feel like too many factors go into it and I can't possibly put it in star (or whatever) value. However, I love seeing somebody else's ratings. It feels like a complete wrap-up...especially on Goodreads when I'm in the library or store and QUICK, is this book good? I go see the ratings and I don't have to beware of spoilers. Great post, Jen!

    Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

  7. I definitely rate by feelings. I'm that kind of girl that will give an imperfect book 5 stars. There might be a book that made me mad now and then, but if it also made me giggle, squeal, cry, and smile, then it's probably getting 5 stars. Even though it's not perfect, it triggered such a strong emotional response from me, and that's why I end up loving it!

    My ratings might not be the most accurate, but I think my ratings show how I felt about the book, and then I go into more accurate detail in my review.

    I have also just started giving word ratings in addition to my star ratings.


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