I’ve been using Goodreads a lot more recently as well as Letterboxd (pretty similar but better features and for films! Give us the half star option Goodreads, please!) and this has made me rate books using a star rating more. I never used to do this much a few years ago and I think blogging has made me more aware of it but I really struggle with them sometimes. Seeing everyone else rate a book with star ratings makes me subconsciously do it now and sometimes I really struggle and just write a paragraph about how I feel overall about the book as well as what I liked and disliked. I am intrigued however, by how people work their star ratings and I wanted to have a little chat about it.
I suppose this sounds a little ironic, but I would be a terrible reviewer. Yes, I know I co-run a blog on which we both write reviews but in terms of writing pure reviews and being a ‘professional’ reviewer, I’d be terrible. I’ve read quite a lot of people’s reviews, from casual bloggers to ones written for online newspapers, but I’ll be honest here – I don’t really use individual reviews to choose what books to read next.
From speaking to others, I think a lot of people are similar. If a person I know recommends me a book because they think it would be my thing or they’ve really enjoyed it, I’m very likely to add that to my TBR and want to get round to it. I will check the rating on things like Goodreads just to see what the general consensus is, but even if it is fairly low on there, if someone I know thinks I will enjoy it then I trust them.
I find it hard with writing reviews sometimes as they are subjective. I think sometimes a lot of ‘professional’ or formally written reviews try too hard to be objective but I honestly really struggle with that. How do you objectively review a book? I know there will be a kind of skill to it but at the same time, there isn’t one right answer.
For me, rating a book, or film, is very much based on feeling. I’ve read some books that are brilliant but they aren’t a five star for me because they don’t feel like a five star. I’m not being pretentious here, not at all – to be honest, I think a lot of other people will feel the same way.
I recognise that some of the books I rate as a five star have elements I’m not a huge fan of but that doesn’t matter. All my favourite books have an odd, even just tiny thing I don’t like but nothing is perfect – and that’s okay and completely normal. If something really speaks to me and I connect with it for whatever reason and love it, then it’s a high, probably five star rating. All my favourite books are ones that have affected me in some way or have made me see things differently, and that is the most wonderful thing to come from a book, film, tv show or anything!
How do you rate books? And what makes a five star for you?