Everyone has a system for how they rate the books they read. Most of us use a 1-5 star scale, which make sense in the world of Goodreads and Amazon. But how you assign those ratings can vary wildly from person to person.
I try very hard NOT to judge books based on comparing them to other books. It’s impossible to compare a contemporary to a YA fantasy to an adult romance to a classic, but I can certainly judge them based on how each made me feel. Rating books is a very emotion-based thing for me, and that is how my system has been established. I also try not to let outside opinions (good or bad) color my reading, and go in with an open mind and willingness to decide for myself how I am going to receive the story.
So now let’s take a look at my rating system!
1- Oh Hell No.
Someday I will light this on fire (either metaphorically or for reals) in an effort to express my hatred. Not only will I never read it again, but I will absolutely be putting up a review about my thoughts so others know what they are getting themselves into if they choose to read it. These books will usually send me into a rant if they come up, usually ending with “I can’t even right now”. I may even blacklist the author for future reads, especially if I haven’t had any better experiences with their writing. Harsh, maybe, but I have too many books on my TBR to waste time with lots of “second chances”.
Note: I have never actually burned one of my 1-star reads. In fact, the few books I have used in my fire pics where thrift-store finds or diet/self-help books from the Dollar Tree. I assume they were horrible, but I have to be fair and say I don’t know. My burning is fairly unbiased.
A few examples of 1-Star reads: The-Book-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Losing the Field by Abbi Gines. Great Expectations.
Not so terrible that it shouldn’t exist, but definitely not to my taste at all. I will not be recommending it to anyone, and may share my dislike with others, although with less fiery passion. I am not going to pick up any sequels, because that would be a waste of time and effort.
This book was okay, didn’t make me burn with rage, but didn’t make me burn with passion either. For me, a 3 is a book that kept me entertained at best, occupied at least, and wasn’t super offensive to me. I can see how other people might like it, and will not begrudge them their differing opinions (unlike 1’s and 2’s where I am definitely judging you). I may even suggest it to others if I thought it would be to their taste. If it has a sequel, I might pick it up, depending on the hype around it, or if I end up with a copy.
A few examples of 3-Star reads: The Cruel Prince, Royal Bastards,
4- Pretty good stuff.
A 4 is a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and would definitely recommend to others. This is a book I would put my stamp of approval on, might write a post about, and would probably keep on my shelf for future Instagram photo purposes. It might not have been a total wow, but there is a possibility I might revisit it someday if the mood struck. If they have a sequel, I am 99% likely to pick it up at some point.
5- Oh Hell Yes.
These are the books that can check off more than one of the following things: I could not put it down, I couldn’t stop thinking about, I got super emotional over it, I had to nurse a hangover after finishing it, one that colored my dreams at night, one that kept me up until 3am in an attempt to finish it in one sitting. A sure-fire way to get a 5-star rating from me is if you make me LOL on multiple occasions, or reduce me to tears at any time. If you get me sobbing, it’s a total win.
A 5 is a book that will not only earn its place in my heart, but will also earn a spot on the “I will 10000% be rereading this, possibly in the very near future” list. These are the ones that I might possibly end up with multiple editions of, should that be an option. Any sequels will be preordered ASAP, and I will be seeking out other books by the author. These are also the books I would buy the audiobooks for, which is saying a lot because I *only* do audiobooks for books I have already read. In short, a 5 has to make me use lots of caps, multitudes of adjectives, and plenty of heart-eyed emojis.
A few examples of 5-Star reads: Nevernight, Empire of Storms, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Night Circus, Red Rising, Eragon, The Poisonwood Bible, and Clockwork Angel.
For me, I only rate books I have finished in full. A DNF (Did Not Finish for you muggles) doesn’t even make it onto my list – Goodreads, book journal, or otherwise, whether I stop at 5% or 90% (if I make it past 90% I’m probably going to power through to the end regardless of how bad it is). I will, however, usually write a short review with no stars just so I remember that I tried to read it and couldn’t. While I accept your choice to count DNFs towards reading goals, I definitely silently judge you for it if it gets ridiculous (I once saw a bookstagrammer bragging about reading 30 books in a month, and the picture of her reading journal showed that she had DNF’d all but 6. That has colored my opinion ever since).
It is also worth noting that I *do* count audiobooks towards my books read, once I have finished them in full. Also worth noting is that I only listen to audiobooks of works I have already read in print format, and ones that I already know are 5 stars for me. That’s not to say the audible version is going to be a 5 (narration plays a huge factor), but I don’t want to spend many hours of my life listening to something I might not like. Plus the fact that I have a hard time focusing on audiobooks, and like having the book already in my arsenal for when I inevitably space out and miss things. I find audiobooks are a great way to revisit old favorites that you might not otherwise have time to get to – I mainly listen while commuting to and from work everyday. I am currently working my way through the Harry Potter series and it’s been magical.
How do you rate your reads? What does it take to earn a 5 Star review from you? Let me know in the comments!