How do you decide how many stars to award?

TalkBook reviewers

Join LibraryThing to post.

How do you decide how many stars to award?

Edited: Apr 2, 2011, 11:17 am

I'm sorry if this isn't the right group for this topic or if it has already been addressed. I am wondering how people choose how many stars to award to a book and what the different stars mean. I have been working on my review system and was interested to see how others compared.

Here's how I review right now:

5 stars - The book completely enthralled me. Could not put it down. Got something more out of it than just entertainment -- it enlightened or educated me in some way. Can definitely see myself reading it again. Will keep forever and never loan it out.

4 1/2 stars - Not quite perfect but almost so. I will actively push this book on my friends and family.

4 stars - A really great book in all respects with perhaps some minor flaws. Highly recommended.

3 1/2 stars - Better than average but with some flaws. Recommended.

3 stars - Average. An entertaining read but probably forgettable. Will not reread. Recommended for entertainment value to readers with similar interest.

2 1/2 stars - Slightly lower than average. Some aspects of the story, characters or writing troubled me. Probably will not recommend.

2 stars - Finished but did not like. Would not recommend.

1 1/2 stars - Did not finish but it had some redeeming qualities. Perhaps I could have tried a little harder to finish this book.

1 star - Abandoned before finishing, usually because it was boring me.

1/2 star - No redeeming qualities whatsoever. Did not finish. This rating is reserved for books I completely despised. So far, I have only given 2 books a 1/2 star rating.

Apr 2, 2011, 6:25 pm

That's as good a rating system as any.

Apr 2, 2011, 6:37 pm

Whatever works for you. What works for me is not using star ratings at all.

Apr 2, 2011, 8:52 pm

>1 sturlington: Thank you for sharing this; it makes a lot of sense to me. I apply the stars using criteria very like yours, but haven't been able to make much sense of the various half-steps below 2 stars - your system looks great, and I'll probably adopt it.

One minor difference for me: 4.5 stars is generally the top of my scale of 'objective' excellence. I assign 5 stars to 4.5-quality books that hold a special resonance for me. I figure that, to the extent that it's meaningful to imagine written works distributed along a bell curve of quality, personal preference probably has a bigger impact at the upper end of a bell curve, so my rating system may as well acknowledge that explicitly.

Apr 3, 2011, 9:45 am

I'm not a big fan of stars, but for sites like this one where I feel compelled (usually internally, and inexplicably) to use them, I generally do it this way:

5 stars: super amazing
4 stars: I liked it
3 stars: meh
2 stars: I didn't like it
1 star: crap

I don't bother with half stars. That's too complicated for me. :)

Apr 3, 2011, 4:12 pm has a similar scheme to melyda's, if a little more generous:
it was amazing *****
really liked it ****
liked it ***
it was ok **
didn't like it *

'Couldn't-be-bothered-to-rate-it must be no stars, I guess.

Half-stars give you the option to approximate to a percentage rating: 100% = 5 stars, 50% = 2-and-a-half, 30% = one-and-a-half, and so on. A slight refinement which may not suit everyone. Or perhaps no-one at all.

Apr 3, 2011, 6:30 pm

>1 sturlington:

A pretty good approximation to the way that I rate. The only exception is the one star rating. I will wade to the end of some quite turgid dross rather than abandoning a book. I've only encountered one 1-star and one 0.5-star books since I started rating on LT.

Apr 4, 2011, 4:40 am

>1 sturlington:
I read your reviews of books we share, sturlington, none of which had a star rating as far as I could see, so it seems as though you can get along comfortably without having to assign pentacles. Star ratings are like polaroid snapshots, really, but the real litmus test is the review and I'd rather read your well considered reviews than puzzle out the meaning of yours or anybody's star ratings! Keep up the good work!

Apr 4, 2011, 5:06 am

#1 sturlignton

Your rating is very close to how I effectivley rate my books.

I used to think that a book I rated with 5 stars would be something I would recommend to anybody, but I modified that to something that was more personally meaningful, like your own description.

My 1/2 star rating would be much the same as your own. There are some books that should just never have been written, or if written, never published.

I read a couple of your reviews for books we share and I think we are at one in many of them. Your review of 7 Steps to Midnight captured my view of that book perfectly. It was such a disappointment to find a book from Matheson that was so mediocre, if not totally poor.

Apr 4, 2011, 10:02 am

>7 Noisy: A while back I gave myself permission to abandon any book for whatever reason. I figured there were so many good books out there to read, and I wouldn't have time in my life to get to them all, so I didn't want to waste that time reading books I didn't like. It helps to pick up books for free or little money, since then you don't feel like you have that much of an investment in it, I find.

Apr 4, 2011, 10:05 am

> 8 & 9 Thank you for the kind words! I sometimes feel like I'm too hard on books, particularly because the books I don't like seem to be the ones that everyone else holds dear. But it's all subjective, anyway. When I was working on a magazine in college, our editorial policy was that stories which engendered strong reactions on both ends of the spectrum were better than ones that everyone felt warm and fuzzy about, simply because they engendered thought and discussion.

Apr 4, 2011, 10:15 am

Unfortunetly (or maybe fortunetly) LT doesn't do anything with your stars, so you're free to use tham as you see fit. You can use 5* are dross and 1* as the pinacle of perfection if you wish. I do use stars in my wishlist sometimes to indicate desireability as opposed to heard about and seemed interesting. Mostly though the scheme in #1 is more or less along the lines I use. 3* is about average, read worse, read better. 1/2 should not have been published (although I probably did finish reading it) 5* - everyone who thinks like me should read this book.

Going back and re-reading books especially in series, does change how I feel about them. I'm generally more enthusiastic about a book after finishing it the first time.

Apr 4, 2011, 11:06 am

#12 reading_fox
I'm generally more enthusiastic about a book after finishing it the first time.

That's probably the best argument for not re-reading a book. :-)

I never get round to re-reading, although there are many books I would love to read again. Like "Sturlington's" view in #10, I want to get round to all the great books that I haven't read yet.

Apr 4, 2011, 1:09 pm

>12 reading_fox:
Actually, LT does one thing with stars; they are averaged on the work page. So if too many people up-end the meaning of the stars, it will play hob with that average.

Apr 4, 2011, 5:09 pm

I have not given lower than 2 stars, because I think it takes a lot of courage for anyone to try and make it for being published. 1/2 star, for me, would be liking saying that the book is complete s**te, and even though 2 is my lowest, I do not think it is fair to say to another human being that their work is useless.

A review is much more revealing than a star grading system - someone's dislike can be someone else's delight, after all.

Apr 4, 2011, 5:15 pm

I do not think it is fair to say to another human being that their work is useless.

But sometimes it is. Sometimes it's a waste of paper and printer's ink and the reader's time. I've had the misfortune to read a few, and it didn't bother me at all to say that the work was useless - worse than useless in certain cases.

I don't agree that it necessarily takes "courage" to try to be published. Often all it takes is chutzpah, and an inability or unwillingness to recognize one's shortcomings.

Apr 4, 2011, 7:01 pm

>15 soniaandree: I agree and disagree with you. I am thinking of taking out my 1 and 1-1/2 star ratings because they are reserved for books I didn't finish, but if I had finished them, I may have actually rated it higher. I am very impatient and need a story to grab me early, and since I get a lot of my books for low cost, I don't really mind putting one down and picking up another. I notice that I do tend to finish books I actually pay for, however!

However, I'm trying to review everything in my library, and the ones with no stars are alerting me that they need a review. Maybe once I accomplish that great feat, I'll go and remove the 1 stars.

Even the worst books I've read have not gotten less than a 2. Except in the 2 cases where I awarded 1/2 star. In those cases, I really feel they deserved it, mainly because I felt the 2 books were over-commercialized and over-hyped, and were essentially taking advantage of the reader. But I do not give those low ratings out lightly, to be sure. -Shannon

Apr 5, 2011, 6:32 am

Interesting the processes LT cataloguers go through when adding books. If I've already read the book but haven't time to review it just then I tend to rate it at the same time. If I haven't read it obviously I don't rate it! Like Shannon I aim to review all my books (in my case up to the 200 ceiling before I fork out money for unlimited cataloguing!).

Rating: if I really don't like a book enough to give it shelf room I get rid of it and delete it, which means most of my books are three stars or more. However, if they're non-fiction and if despite their low rating I want to keep it for completism or for reference I'll list it even if it is two stars or below. Or if I'm pleased with my review and want to counter more enthusiastic reviews...

Courage in publishing your work? I suppose the courage comes with offering your baby to the outside world, knowing it might get a mauling; however, some writers react very badly, as this thread discusses: and this thread demonstrates:

Apr 5, 2011, 9:29 am

>18 ed.pendragon: I like to keep a complete list of what I've read and attempted to read, mostly just to remember authors, so I won't pick up a bad author again. I keep books I don't own in a Read but Unowned collection, so maybe I should just create an Abandoned collection for books I didn't finish.

Yes, it is funny all the teeth-gnashing we go through to organize and catalogue our books, isn't it? I have been cataloguing my books as a hobby well before LT started up, so I can trace my OCD geekery way back... Shannon

Apr 5, 2011, 10:53 am

I do not think it is fair to say to another human being that their work is useless.

I do, and even if I didn't, I wouldn't feel bad about rating (and reviewing) books honestly. My ratings are not for the author. They're for me first, and for other potential readers second. Why must other human beings have to suffer through reading a useless waste of paper when I could warn them away? Readers are people too!

Apr 5, 2011, 11:43 am

I wouldn't feel that I could be gratuitously rude, but I'd certainly be honest, and if I thought that I couldn't see the worth in a published book I'd certainly say so.

Lorax is right, ratings are for the reader making them, but we could certainly look at the who and why of reviews in general. Audience? The reader first; LibraryThingers next (otherwise why post it on a social network?); LT author (if you got it from Early Reviewers) and perhaps publisher (if you've an eye to regular reviewing). I'm always curious about some reviewers' obsession with grading books suitable for young readers, so I suppose they have other English teachers in mind too.

May 30, 2011, 8:53 am

I take rating to mean recommendation versus criticism. Reviews allow you to point out the nuances of a particular book; what you liked or disliked about the book. I try to keep as simple as "Do I like it?" and "Will someone appreciate the recommendation?" I hate it when you recommend something and the person tells you how little they enjoyed the book. Makes for awkward moment; like you really don't know them after all. Anyone else hate that feeling?

*nobody likes this
**some may like this
***I like this
****some others will like this
*****everybody will like this

Mar 4, 2012, 5:48 am

1> I hope you don't mind, but I might be "borrowing" your writing scale from now on. I always have such an issue figuring out how to rate thing. I'll rate them on gut instinct and later go back and say "why does this have more stars than that? I liked that better."
Hopefully your rating system will help me straighten this out.

Jun 14, 2012, 8:27 am

In my employment I've engaged in conducting surveys which required a coach to assign ratings of between one and five stars to indicate another person's proficiency in certain tasks. What we discovered was that the data we aggregated to calculate average proficiencies was useless garbage. Coaches had far too wide a range in how they approached assigning their ratings. Some felt that "nobody's perfect" and refused ever to award five stars. Some would award five stars by default unless utterly convinced the person didn't deserve it. The average might have balanced this out, but we decided it was ultimately meaningless. Our solution was to provide all coaches with a scale as #1 did above, linking behaviour to ratings so coaches would assign stars more consistently.

I provide my rating scale in my LT profile, and appreciate when other people do as well. Meanwhile it continues to frustrate me when I read a glowing review that ends with assigning two out of five stars, etc.

Jun 14, 2012, 10:13 am

> 16 -- Amen to that. If we were to collect all the authors whose supposed genius is suppressed by evil mainstream publishers and editors, we'd have enough authors to populate a medium-sized nation -- and enough waste paper to keep Hell warm for the rest of eternity.

I personally like the story about giving three million monkeys three million typewriters just to see how long it would take them to compose the three million words that comprise the Shakespearean corpus. I bet the monkeys could do it sooner than my hypothetical "nation" of unrecognized authors.

Jun 14, 2012, 1:46 pm

>16 lilithcat:, 25: it relates to whether you agree with Simon Cowell. He believes he's doing people a favour by telling them like it is. Some people's illusions will not be broken. Some people will just be broken.

Jun 14, 2012, 1:50 pm

> 26

If Simon Cowell is a book reviewer, then yes, he is doing people a favor. The readers, because that is who reviews are for.

Jun 14, 2012, 2:09 pm

>26 Cecrow:, I meant the judge of "American Idol" and "X Factor" fame who tells would-be singers flat out to their face "You're terrible", no mincing words. It's amazing, the people who will come on the stage believing they can sing. Authors (or any other art form), probably not so different.

I'd agree with a counterpoint that a review of a published book is like a review of a released album; not the same as stomping on someone who's still trying to get noticed and existing on hope rather than a realized product.

Jun 14, 2012, 4:09 pm

> 28 A review of a published book is in a sense like a review of a released album SOMETIMES. Other times, a review of a published book is like fingering a fraudster in front of his/her intended mark(s). As for stepping on the toes of someone who's trying to get noticed and existing on hope -- that can be a good thing if it wakes some clown to the fact that (s)he can't write a lick, is wasting his/her time by trying, and ought to get a regular job to support her/himself, the spouse, and the kids.

Fantasies (when they're well written) are fun to read or to watch on the big screen. But someone who persists in living a fantasy does harm to himself (he's wasting his life) and others (who may need his/her help in dealing with real-life situations). In therapy they say that psychotics are people who build castles in the air and neurotics are people who go to live in those castles. Think Willy Loman. Think "The Glass Menagerie."

Any no-talent schmuck who thinks (s)he is Virginia Woolf or George Orwell -- just to the extent that he can't profit from a good, swift kick in the pants -- is certifiably insane. The only reason to string such a person along is to pick his/her pocket or get him/her to buy the drinks.

Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 4:58 pm

> 28 -- For the most part, book reviews are not to be compared to the clown/host judgements of American Idol or any other TV show. Look at it this way: Books are written for people who can think or want to learn to think. TV is produced for people who can't think or don't want to think. TV as we know it is almost entirely for boobs and boors and suckers.

On the Vaudeville stage they always had a guy with a hook on the end of a pole. The audience roared when the MC slipped the hook around the neck of the hapless performer and jerked him or her bodily off the stage. They threw vegetables and garbage at those who avoided the hook. It's the same thing in front of the "reality TV" camera. Abuse is the major form of entertainment there.

Another form of the same thing is the carnival side-show acts that used to caravan across the country. For a nickel or a dime you could go in the tent and stare at a freak of some kind, or you could watch a "geek" eat bugs and lizards raw. Examples of TV "geeks" include Andrew Zimmern (eats bugs and worms on "Bizarre Foods," pretends they're great delicacies) and Adam Richman (the idiot who stuffs himself full of slop on "Man v. Food," pretends to be a hero). Among supposed "journalists," we find Geraldo Rivera, Jerry Springer, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and others of that sort. All of them specialize in verbal abuse delivered as "news."

I could go on but my point is that most of television is for people who could care less about what they put in their heads. Anybody who thinks they can ingest a steady diet of violent freak shows and outrageous lies without damage to their mental health should at least have the decency to stay home on election day.

Side shows, for a few decades during the 20th century, were curbed -- even killed -- by blue laws in communities nationally. "The public decency" was to be respected. No more. It's just another area in which local authority has been usurped by federal regulators. The FCC controls what we see on TV. The county sheriff has nothing to say about it. There are those of us who applauded and worked to speed the transition. Now we live with the consequences.

I for one would rather make my own choices. So I read books and almost never watch TV. If I want to turn my brain over to the management of high-pressure salesmen, I'll put down my books and watch Andy Zimmern eat bugs for a while. The choice is mine/yours. Just don't kid yourself that you're well informed if you get your news and entertainment from the boob toob.

Edited: Jun 16, 2012, 7:18 am

>30 dekesolomon:
Misanthropes remind me of that adage about pessimists: whether their fears are realised or not it's a win/win for them.*

TV is no different to most manifestations of culture: 90% is expendable but it's worth hanging about for the 10%. Here in the UK we used to have a lot more quality shows and the proportion of bad:good was more favourable to the good. Now, in the digital age, we have a superfluity of channels mostly showing repeats (some good, mostly bad), reality shows (ditto), sensationalist documentaries (all bad) and ... sport. That ratio is changing in favour of expendable.

Before I turn misanthropic myself, I have to say that I prefer to exercise choice if there is a choice, and read a book if there isn't. Win/win for me. Oh no, I'm a pessimist!

* Just seen this:

Edited: Jun 16, 2012, 9:30 am

> 31 -- The Museum of Failed Products reminds me of something from Dr. Who or Douglas Adams. If they hired Marvin the Paranoid Android for a tour guide, he'd be perfect.

Then there's Sherlock Holmes's famous maxim: it was something like: "Once you have eliminated all the probabilities whatever is left, however improbable it may be, is the truth." The Museum of Failed Products might phrase Holmes's logic differently: "Once you've tried everything that doesn't work, you will be left with the solution."

One good thing about pessimism: Pessimists are never disappointed but are often surprised.

Jun 16, 2012, 9:21 am

>32 dekesolomon:
If you like the idea of a Museum of Failed Products, you might like the Library of Unwritten Books:

Edited: Jun 16, 2012, 9:46 am

> 32 -- Richard Brautigan: I read "A Confederate General From Big Sur" (it's hilarious), "The Abortion," "In Watermelon Sugar," and "Trout Fishing in America."

Seems to me that the Library of Unwritten Books is what happens to people who take advice from poets. 8-) The acid casualty who shoved Brautigan's books in front of me and insisted that I read them ended up doing a stretch in the pen. Last I heard he was into Scientology. Nobody has heard from him for, like, forty years.

He is (was?) Irish. Being a Brit, you'll understand.

Jun 16, 2012, 10:21 am

He is (was?) Irish. Being a Brit, you'll understand.
I kind of see what you're getting at but, knowing a few Irish people as I do, I wouldn't characterise them as being all the same.

Jun 16, 2012, 11:01 am

Nobody can charge a misanthrope with bigotry. Think about it.

Jun 16, 2012, 12:08 pm


Jun 16, 2012, 1:55 pm

Personal taste is bound to influence ratings. Most books we already have on our shelves are there because we liked them when we first read them. There is, however, a value judgement. I did like this book but it wasn't as well-written as I might have hoped. So, for me, there lies the choice between 5 or 4 stars.

For new books, especially Early Review books, quality of writing is the main factor.

Jun 16, 2012, 5:19 pm

> 38 -- Me, too. And a 3-star is a book to which I'm completely indifferent. Reading it wasn't a waste of time, exactly, but it's a book that I wouldn't miss for not having read it.

Aug 25, 2012, 10:43 am

This is my rating system:

5 stars: Awesome, life-changing, you absolutely HAVE TO read this book. If you don't, your life is incomplete.

4 1/2 stars: Almost perfect, don't miss it.

4 stars: really really good book, definitely worth a re-read or two, or three. Definitely holds space on my bookshelf.

3 1/2 stars: good, better than average, worth checking out of the library and possibly buying from a used bookstore.

3 stars: don't spend your money on it, borrow it from the library. Not too bad, but definitely not that good.

2 1/2 stars: Not really worth reading unless its part of a series you like, or from an author you like.

2 stars: More bad qualities than good, but someone out there may like it.

1 1/2 stars: definitely not worth your time.

1 star: could barely make myself finish this book.

1/2 star: what the heck was the author (or editor/publisher) thinking?!

0 stars: The reading of this book could be detrimental to the well-being of the reader.

I've noticed most of the time I stay at the 3 star level.

Aug 25, 2012, 12:37 pm

#40 Ravenaier
Nice description of your rating system. It's not unlike my view of the world with one major exception. I find that a book with zero stars could be unrated on LT as there is not "rated" marker, so I don't use zero. I reserve 1/2 start for "Hated; Should never have been written; This book is a crime agains the human race." As I say, not unlike your rating.

Aug 26, 2012, 1:29 am

I also avoid the zero-star rating because it doesn't get tabulated. For me, 1/2 star is the lowest and it usually goes for "grossly offensive with no redeeming qualities"

Aug 27, 2012, 10:31 am


Interesting. What do you give a "average" book? It seems like there's a precipitous drop between "Better than average" at 3.5 and "Don't spend your money on it" at 3 in your system.

(I give an average book - one that I'm glad I read but probably won't reread or recommend other than to people interested in the particular topic or genre - 3 stars. So "that was pretty good" gets three for me.)

Edited: Aug 27, 2012, 1:46 pm

This is a problem with a star system, even one that allows for 10 grades as LT does (not including 'no stars'). Not only is it impossible to agree what they mean (as we can see in the variation in attributes mentioned above) but in giving descriptors at each grade 'boundary' you force yourself to make value judgements that don't allow for any subtle distinctions and so become almost meaningless.

When I adjudicate for music competitions, I judge on three attributes: technique, musicianship and performance/presentation. Now these may seem hierarchical, but in truth they overlap. Without technique (playing the notes in the correct order and following tempo and dynamic directions, for example) it's hard to express musicality. On the other hand, somebody can give a great musical performance that has you on the edge of your seat with excitement, but make loads of mistakes and interpret the music in a way that you might disagree with. Still, on the whole, when marking I tend to assume that technique is basic (say, 40% of the marks), musicianship will show an intelligent approach to playing using that technique (say, 30-35%) and performance will render me so convinced by its delivery that I would be tempted to lay aside my pen (say, 25-30%).

This then generates a percentage mark which helps me rank the competitors. What do I do then? I then rely on gut feeling, when I might put aside my carefully contrived marking should two performances be assessed very closely. Which performance would I choose to hear again if I had to?

Now, this may not seem very professional, but what it does is put an emotional response at the heart of the assessment after everything is totalled up, and that emotional response has in fact been moulded by a long professional career. You may now be asking, what's this got to do with awarding stars to books you have read?

I don't want to spell it out but I will, as briefly as I can. Whatever system you have for judging the books you read and review, and however you chose to describe those 'grade boundaries', ultimately you have to go on gut feeling, regardless of the justifications you have set up in your descriptors. Personally, I think descriptors are pointless because how we judge a book is the sum of all those little subtle assessments we make before, during and after we read the book: do we have expectations of the author or book that are met or not? Do we like the narrative or does it bore us? Can we empathise with the protagonists or care about them? Does the language excite or repel us by its immaturity, masterfulness, verbosity or sparseness? Do we hate or love the format of the book? and so on.

If you want to have a points system, do. If you must have category descriptors, be my guest. But, above all, be honest about what the book has meant to you. If you want to share that, then write a decent review, and I will be interested to read it. And 'like' it, whether or not I might agree with you.

Aug 28, 2012, 7:53 am

I wouldn't say that descriptors are pointless. More than once I've read a glowing review and then stared at the two stars awarded, wondering ....

Aug 28, 2012, 5:43 pm

I very much agree with #44 above.

A book might be extremely informative, but a dull-to-the-point-of-tears read - do you star on the info or on the experience?

A book might be quite engaging, yet be insufferable twaddle - do you star on the writing or the content?

A book might be conceptually ground-breaking, but be technically (sentence structure, spelling, formatting, etc.) deeply flawed - do you star on the ideas or the presentation?

In each of these cases, one might give the book a high or a low star-rating ... and there are frequently many multiple axes on which a given book can be judged.

Of course, I, generally speaking, don't read fiction, so perhaps the matter is simpler when dealing with stories rather than history, or science, or business theory, or religion, or metaphysics, etc. ... but I've always found the prospect of coming up with a definitive "star rating" for a book daunting, particularly in the context of LibraryThing (I will, however, star-rate books on Amazon, as that is - for me - more of a "cost/value analysis" with five stars being "hey, I'd buy this at full retail" down to 2 stars being something like "only if it was at the dollar store", and 1 star being along the lines of "maybe if stranded somewhere with nothing else available to read").

This is one of the reasons I write extensive reviews of everything I read ... I'm able to address the full spectrum of my impressions of a book rather that say "liked it", or whatever.


Oct 11, 2012, 1:56 pm

I do encounter a bit of a puzzle when I read a universally acknowledged classic that I had to work at in order to finish reading and didn't enjoy at all. It might be ridiculous to give a novel by Thomas Hardy two stars, even if that's how I feel about it. But then, do I give it four or five even though I couldn't stand it, out of grudging acknowledgement for its impact, the skill of its writing, etc.?

If I were to go with the latter approach, I might as well give it a star rating without even reading it. So I go with the former approach, and deal with the feedback if it comes, which is almost never. I think people understand where a low rating on a classic is coming from well enough.

Oct 11, 2012, 4:40 pm

#47 Cecrow

George Bernard Shaw refused to read any book he was reviewing lest it influence his opinion.

Aug 15, 2020, 8:33 pm

This is so helpful! I'm just setting up my library in LibraryThing, and was looking for guidance exactly like this. It's helpful to have questions/guidelines to look back at and ask myself to see if I agree with my own initial assessment and if I'm being consistent. Thank you for sharing it.

Oct 8, 2020, 4:12 pm

I just found this thread and it is very interesting. I wanted to go and see if I could look at the books in list view by the number of stars I have award (my star ratings are much like those described in post 1). I honestly cannot remember if I've ever given a book 1 star or 5 stars. However, I couldn't find a way to view books by star rating. Am I missing something?

Edited: Oct 8, 2020, 4:34 pm

For a general view of how you have rated see your stats/memes page.

You can also include your ratings in one or more of your styles. You can sort on that column.

My personal scheme is

***** Is absolutely wonderful.
**** lived up to my expections.
*** was readable, but not what I had hoped for.
** disappointing.
* a sad waste of trees.

I use half stars as I feel needed.

Oct 8, 2020, 4:34 pm

Below is how I've broken down my star ratings. Some books bounce around in ratings as I reconsider my feelings.

✩✩✩✩✩ - love it, fiercely
✩✩✩✩½ - loved it
✩✩✩✩ - really liked it
✩✩✩½ - liked it
✩✩✩ - liked some parts
✩✩ - liked what it could've been
✩ - disliked it
½ - hated it

Stats shows that I currently have 12 works assigned one star and 54 works with five stars. Those works include videos, though.

Oct 8, 2020, 9:04 pm

I only just discovered that you can do half stars, so up until recently my scale has been:

5 stars = amazing, loved it,
4 stars = good
3 stars = average or neutral, enjoyed but not enough to call it "good"
2 stars = bad
1 star = offensive

Now that I have half stars to work with, I can be slightly more nuanced, but it'll still be variations on the above, with the half stars just filling in half-steps between the ratings above. I'll probably start using a single half star for the truly offensive stuff. I rarely pick up a book that ends up being offensive, though, since it's not usually that hard to figure out from the cover, title, and summary if a book will be offensive.

Oct 9, 2020, 5:39 am

Like aspirit I use a single half star for "hated it". I would even go as far as saying my half star rating means it should never have been published.

I only started using a single half star because if I did not give it a half star it would appear that I had not rated it at all. The half star is a actual statement of my detestation for the book.

Oct 10, 2020, 1:37 pm

I take a more direct approach:

Would I read it again? If yes = 5 stars
Would I read more by this author? If yes = 4 stars

I don't rate books if I wouldn't encourage everyone else around me to read them.

Much less complicated then >44 ed.pendragon: ed.pendragon and >46 BTRIPP: BTRIPP but I don't have a lot of time to read everything, so I have a very narrow submission policy and turn away a lot of good books.

Edited: Oct 10, 2020, 2:48 pm

>55 StorybookCat:, this is pretty much me too, averaging 4.22 stars across 383 reviews. Chances are good that I'm going to like what I'm reading, since I vet them so carefully beforehand. I'm always starting prepared to give a book four stars until it proves it deserves less/more.

Although I won't necessarily re-read a 5 star (sometimes it's just to recognize the quality) and might happily re-read a 4 star (yup it has some drawbacks, might even be a bit trashy, but what a ride).

Feb 17, 2021, 11:47 am

One of the things I consider is that if the book is flawed, I try to explain what I found problematic. Sometimes, it is a book that just didn't age well. At other times, it is that the book needs good editing for typos and wrong word choices. That way, the reader of the review can decide if that sort of problem is a no-go. In a perfect world, the author would see it and maybe fix the problems. (I actually had an author do that once!)

I know my reviews tend to be more positive, but that is because I usually pick books I know I'll like.

Feb 18, 2021, 11:55 am

I am encountering a difficulty when rereading books that I loved twenty or thirty (or forty or fifty now) years ago. I have been quite surprised at how many that I loved back in the day and would have given at least 4 stars, are now not even a 3 star (averagely okay) for me now.

Is it my age, or the age of the books? I am definitely more sensitive to things, such as the treatment of women, that I just accepted back then. But it is not just that, because some books, even with their imperfections to modern eyes, are still five stars to me.

Is it just me?

Feb 18, 2021, 12:01 pm

>58 sarahemmm: A fairly common occurrence due to the suck fairy as discussed here:

Feb 18, 2021, 12:09 pm

I tend to change ratings after rereading. Each rating might go down or up, as little as half a star or as much as two full stars.

I sometimes read new books I would have been infatuated with (Five stars!) if I had read them at a specific time in my life, but now I'm like, "Yeah, that was enjoyable. Three and a half, or four stars?" There are also books I would have thought were interesting but not a big deal if I didn't know what I do now, and that influences ratings.

So >58 sarahemmm: Our expectations change over time. It's not just you.

Feb 18, 2021, 12:25 pm

>58 sarahemmm: It is not just you. It is me too. :-)

When you read something decades after a prior reading you have to acknowledge you are a different person and you are re-reading it in a different time. Our experience will have increased, and the society in which we live will have changed its norms and mores. It is not all together surprising in those circumstances that our experience of the re-read is different to our original response.

Of course, there are those books that you still enjoy but know you shouldn't because they include things that might now be frowned upon. Those are categorised as guilty pleasures. You mark them down two stars from your previous rating and tell no one you really enjoyed the reread.

Edited: Feb 18, 2021, 12:38 pm

I think some of it is that we have been exposed to a lot of really good writing. There is a lot of garbage being written today, but also a lot of good books. We have access to books by authors who we would not have seen 'back then'.

For those of us who are female, we grew up being told that books about boys and men showed human issues, and we should read them to learn about how people function. But books about girls and women were about, well, females, and had nothing to say to boys. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Little Women were not taught at school because they would bore the boys. I find that I am appalled today at the lack of women in many of the books I read decades ago. And I miss them, and can't enjoy them the way I once did, because I am missing, or reduced to a cardboard background figure.

No, I don't feel guilty about the books that I still enjoy from my earlier life, even when I often realize that they don't stand up to my current standards.

Feb 18, 2021, 12:41 pm

>1 sturlington: If you could not recommend that someone eat at a restaurant you had just been to, would you still give it two out of five stars? A set of criteria this nuanced is probably not much help to fellow readers, although perhaps a useful aide-mémoire for you. I don’t give stars: Moby Dick and King Lear don’t need my endorsement, and lesser works that “enthralled” me may have done so for reasons better explained in a written review.

Feb 18, 2021, 12:44 pm

>61 pgmcc:
Of course, there are those books that you still enjoy but know you shouldn't because they include things that might now be frowned upon. Those are categorised as guilty pleasures. You mark them down two stars from your previous rating and tell no one you really enjoyed the reread.

That is VERY true! Fortunately there are some which we can justify - Dorothy L Sayers is my particular favourite.

And thanks all for reassuring me. But I think I need to be careful with the stars, because how much is the modern world, and how much is me being a grumpy old cow?

Feb 18, 2021, 12:52 pm

While I’m venting, what’s with the reviews, starred or otherwise, along the lines of “Read this in high school; don’t remember much about”? It’s not necessary to review every book one owns, IMHO. I also question the utility of being the 454th person to review, say, a recent best-seller unless one feels that majority of other reviewers have missed the point. A minority POV, clearly.

Feb 18, 2021, 12:55 pm

>64 sarahemmm: I love the works of Dorothy L. Sayers. I see nothing to feel guilty about in her books.

Feb 18, 2021, 1:07 pm

>66 pgmcc:

I think some people are put off by the occasional anti-Semitic remarks, as well as the use of the terms "nigger" and "wog" to describe a person of color.

Feb 18, 2021, 1:15 pm

>67 lilithcat: I have always been put off by these.

Edited: Feb 18, 2021, 1:58 pm

>65 booksaplenty1949: Reviews aren't always meant for other readers, even when they're publicly shared. LT members may write reviews for their own sake.

For example, none of the four hundred reviews already listed for a work matter when you want to be able to scroll through your thoughts in your catalog or Reviews page.

I'm confused why those reviews bother you, to be honest.

ETA: "Why do we post reviews" is nearby. I forgot for a moment we're in a thread about ratings.

Feb 18, 2021, 2:06 pm

>63 booksaplenty1949: Funny, I by chance popped in here to see what were people were saying after all this time. You do realize it's been almost 10 years since I started this thread? My rating system has evolved a lot over the past decade and now would only make sense to me and is intended for my reference rather than recommending to others. Still, it is interesting to see why people give the ratings they do.

I do still reserve the 1/2 star rating for books that I completely despised.

Feb 18, 2021, 2:22 pm

>70 sturlington: I do still reserve the 1/2 star rating for books that I completely despised.

We are in total agreement on that.

Feb 18, 2021, 3:49 pm

>58 sarahemmm: sarahemmm, it isn't just you. I reread books I read decades ago. They may get totally different stars now than they would have done.

Sometimes I get a WOW! This is just as great as I remember! Yep! Five stars!

Sometimes I get insights that make me relate to the book differently. I like it when I can now see the carefully nuanced writing of early fantasy writers, or I now see that this character I ignored is just like *me* at this point in my life.

Sometimes I am left feeling the book is showing its age. Not Mary Stewart's books that I think of as "historical," but books like Merlin's Mirror by Andre Norton. That book which I loved back in the day, now has an undertaste of misogyny that I couldn't ignore, hence the 2.5 stars.

When I see things that didn't age well, such as racial or cultural attitudes, I note those in the review. That way, a potential reader can make an informed decision about the book before picking it up.

Feb 19, 2021, 7:16 am

>72 Jean_Sexton: Jean, thank you. You have clarified my rather incoherent thoughts very helpfully. And I take your point about reviews - I really should try to do more.

Feb 19, 2021, 10:24 am

I don't think my views in >12 reading_fox: have changed much in 10 years I wonder how true that is for any of my other LT posts?!