Why I’ve done away with Star Ratings for Reviews on my blog

Hi friends and welcome to this month’s topic in my friend Camilla @ Reader in the Attic’s project!

discussionchaintr

The Bloggers in the Attic is a discussion chain. And what is a discussion chain? Well, it’s pretty simple and with few steps.

Me and other eleven bloggers united together to discuss a common topic, covering the whole arc of February, and sharing our unique perspective. I created the initiative with the wish to create a discussion space that could explore a normal topic for different part of the world.

The rules to participate are pretty simple. So, if you ever wish to take part in the future discussion, please just comment under Camilla’s introduction and first post. Every topic will be discussed bi-monthly, so the next round will be up in April. There’s plenty of time to join in, but the best option is always to enter early. Also, take a look to the group banner 💖

Learn more about Camilla’s Discussion Chain in her post here!


This month’s topic is about our thoughts on rating systems. You can follow along on the discussion by checking #DiscussionAttic and #DAApril for our monthly topic on Twitter.

This is a really timely discussion topic for me because the subjectivity of star ratings has been on my mind a lot over the past few months. My approach to reviewing has always been rooted in my experience as a scholar in the humanities: I have an Overly Verbose Brand and a lot of feelings. I am much more of a qualitative thinker and have such a hard time distilling that into a simple rating.

It also doesn’t help that there isn’t a guideline provided to standardize the rating system, so it is open for a lot of interpretation. Back when I first started my blog, I put together a Ratings scale so that my readers (and the publishers I work with) understood my own personal scale. But over time I came to realize that rather than adapting to my rating system, readers defaulted to their own.

Ratings are incredibly subjective

There is no rule of thumb for reviewers on what equals a 3-star rating or a 5-star rating. Heck, I am not even consistent when it comes to my own ratings! Some of the books that I loved and remember now as some of the best I read in 2018 were given 4 stars. Whereas a lot of the books that I didn’t necessarily enjoy (it’s not you, it’s me) were given 3-stars even though my enjoyment was more along the lines of 2-stars. This isn’t to say that I don’t write critical and negative reviews (because I do post negative reviews and even the rare 1-star rating), I just approach all of my reviews from a constructive place.

As a reviewer who feels the responsibility of her influence in the community, I will admit that the subjectivity of star ratings made me nervous that my reviews were misunderstood in the TL;DR skim.

I approached 3-star ratings as decent books, but not everyone agreed

One of the things that I found really odd when I put star ratings on my blog reviews was the number of comments on 3-starred books received along the lines of “sorry to hear you didn’t like the book” and “wow, I won’t read this one now” when the contents of my reviews were – as indicated in my review policy – positive and constructive. My rule of thumb was if I didn’t enjoy it but could see that others would (it’s not you, it’s me) was to give it 3-stars and explain who the book would be a good fit for.

But what my comments often told me was that some readers consider a 3-star rating as gospel that the book is bad and should be avoided. And that couldn’t have been further from the truth of my opinions!

The truth is, even though I considered 3-stars to be the mark of a decent book (you know, like a 70% grade on a test) many people did not feel the same way. Which is fine! But I started to feel a sense of responsibility and guilt because I was concerned people weren’t reading the review and making a judgment based on my rating. And as a reviewer who prides herself on being constructive and positive with every review, I decided that star ratings were not in line with my review style.

I actually stopped using star ratings on my book reviews earlier in 2019

I mentioned in my February in Review post that I had done away with star ratings on my blog, saying:

Star ratings are very subjective: for instance, I don’t think a 3 is bad but a lot of people do. I am careful to write my reviews in a way to highlight the aspects I like and don’t like, and if a book wasn’t for me I say who I think would enjoy it. I’ve decided to not list star ratings on my blog reviews anymore because I don’t feel it’s aligned with my approach to reviewing in general. I am instead listing who I would recommend read the book, and am leaving the stars for the necessary evil of Amazon/Goodreads/B&N reviews.

Since making the change, I have actually found that the number of “mixed message” comments on my reviews have drastically decreased and actually have been less critical in my reading. My habits over time developed into rarely giving 5-star ratings for some reason, resulting in books that I absolutely love and consider to be favorites getting 4-star ratings. (Why am I like this?) Now I am still a critical reader but my own ratings seem to reflect my own reading enjoyment and review content. My style hasn’t changed at all but I find that I’m less stingy with the 5-stars on Goodreads.

What are your thoughts? 

Thank you so much for reading my thoughts about rating systems and why I’ve decided to do away with star ratings on my blog reviews. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below – do you find ratings useful or too subjective?

⬇️ Participants for the February Discussion Chain

April 1 – Camilla @ Reader Attic [announcement & intro]
April 3 – Clo @ Book Dragons
April 5 – The Unseen Librarian
April 8 – Lauren @ Northern Plunder
April 12 – Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites
April 15 – Ben @ Books With Ben
April 18 – Nora Eliana @ Papertea and Bookflowers
April 20 – Kerys @ The Everlasting Library
April 22 – Anthony @ Keep Reading Forward
April 25 – Kal @ Reader Voracious (that’s me & this post!)
April 27 – Dany @ Ambivert Words
April 29 – Rain @ Bookdragonism


spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

84 Comments

  1. jess @ crowing about books

    April 25, 2019 at 12:25 PM

    You make a really great point that all 3-star ratings aren’t created equal. I approach 3-stars the same way you do, but I was surprised that a lot of people think 3-stars is considered a bad rating. I don’t think I could do away with star ratings like you have, but I’m trying to be more lenient than I used to be.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 5:56 PM

      Leniency really does help, Jess! I swear that since doing away with ratings, I have been a lot happier overall. Like I still use them on GR/Amazon but I don’t toil over the ratings as much anymore.

      I suppose what it comes down to is people’s opinions on a middle of the road rating is; for me a 3 is it was a good read but didn’t wow me. It’s really interesting though to think about it.

  2. Shalini

    April 25, 2019 at 12:42 PM

    My ratings are about how happy the book made me. So 3 star was neither happy nor sad. I do use ratings but they indicate my mood while reading the book. So if someone says so bad you didn’t enjoy, it is true, I didn’t enjoy but I didn’t hate it too. It was average

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 5:58 PM

      That is such a cool way to look at that, and tying ratings to your mood definitely makes it more personal. And I agree on average reads, thanks so much for commenting!

  3. Guinevere

    April 25, 2019 at 12:44 PM

    I have been thinking about the 3-stars thing too. I’ve seen a lot of people on GR rating 3 stars for books they didn’t like and…that confuses me. I honestly wondered if it’s because people are sometimes scared of low ratings and of writing negative reviews so they default 3 = bad even if it’s around 60% of having liked the book. Which, funnily enough, is me interpreting someone else’s rating scale, as you mention in your post.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:01 PM

      Yea, I feel like the more that I think about the subjectivity of rating scales the more confused I get about it all! It is weird when people don’t have anything nice to say about a book but give it 3-stars, but as you said my simply trying to understand is really just me using my own interpretation of ratings. It’s just so flawed and I wish there were a better or more standard way of rating!

  4. Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical

    April 25, 2019 at 1:00 PM

    I understand why people do away with rating systems, and I totally agree – they are very subjective, and even if you explain your rating system, it is hard to distance ourselves from our own idea of what each star rating means. Someone who considers 3 stars negative will not be convinced to pick up a 3 star rated book even if the review is positive and even if the person knows 3 stars equals good for the reviewer. I’m speaking from experience, because I definitely struggle with this too – three star for me is VERY mediocre and I probably wouldn’t recommend it (with the exception if it is a clear “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. I know others, like you too mentioned, use three stars as a good rating, but still, it is hard to distance myself from the assumption that three star equals not recommended. Even so, I use a rating system and couldn’t imagine my reviews without it. Great post!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:04 PM

      I really agree that I personally struggle with distancing myself from my own personal opinions on ratings. While for me a 3-star rating is average, the content of the review really means more to me than an individual reviewer’s rating because reading is so personal… no two people read the same book. Thank you so much for your comment, Veronika!

  5. Paul's Picks

    April 25, 2019 at 1:55 PM

    Great post as usual!
    I sometimes think I should add a ‘Recommended for’ on all my 3-stars…
    Btw. I’ve been thinking about ratings a lot lately too. And I’m doing a ‘ratings slide’ post on Sunday.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:05 PM

      Thank you so much, Paul! I think a ‘Recommended for’ is a great addition, what a good idea. I will have to go check out your ratings slide post, I am still not hopping much so I missed it when you posted it!

      1. Paul's Picks

        May 13, 2019 at 7:37 PM

        No worries. Hope you are well!!

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          May 15, 2019 at 6:26 PM

          I am doing okay, thank you! I hope you are doing well!

  6. Sam || Fictionally Sam

    April 25, 2019 at 1:59 PM

    oooo you make some very good points here Kal! I totally can understand why you got rid of implementing the rating system–as it’s subjectivity is super off the charts. However, I don’t think I could get rid of mine just because I am so used to having it in my brain that it would feel weird not to, if that makes sense? Like I feel like I would still internally be rating books on a sliding scale (which is what the 5 star system is for me).

    I do think though that if one does implement the rating system they should explain in their review just what about the book made them deduct stars, because like you said their can be phenomenal 4 star reads, but we should say what made it not a five star…idk if I’m making sense, because I’m just rambling now. I shall stop.

    As always, amazing content my wondertwin! I love hearing/reading your thoughts on different topics and getting a peak inside that magnificent brain of yours!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:11 PM

      Girl I totally get you, and I think if I didn’t have to use ratings for Goodreads/Amazon, I’d be internally rating them as well! And what you said about explaining where the star deduction comes from is important — I always find it a little odd to read a 3-star review that is glowing. It’s like one of those professors that only give 2 A’s a semester regardless of how well people do.

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment, wondertwin! xoxo

  7. Christina Reid

    April 25, 2019 at 2:32 PM

    I completely agree with doing away with star ratings – have never used them on my blog and only use them on Goodreads or Amazon. I have always considered 3 stars to be good – for me it means that I liked it When I first started blogging most books I read were 3 stars with ones I loved being 4 stars. Now I tend to err on the side of caution and rate 3.5 stars if I liked it (rounded up to 4 on Goodreads) because otherwise people seem to assume that I’m leaving a negative review. If I disliked the book I wouldn’t bother featuring it on my blog or reviewing it!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:14 PM

      Yay another blogger that leaves the stars for Goodreads and Amazon! I find that right now, I am approaching average reads (not bad, not good) as a 3 star and usually say it was a me thing; 4 stars are for books I really enjoyed and 5 stars are the books I love and want to scream about forever. I do write “negative reviews” on my blog because as a reader I find them valuable, but I always am sure to be constructive when doing so. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Christina!

  8. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    April 25, 2019 at 3:34 PM

    This is a perpetual problem for book bloggers, and I can totally see why you decided to do away with stars completely. You’re right that ratings are SO subjective–it’s hard to pin them down for ourselves, much less to keep track of what other people think of a three-star (or other-star) book. I went to a worded rating system and have indicated that none of the books reviewed on my blog would get less than 4 stars on Goodreads, and even with that I sometimes feel like it’s hard to choose!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:17 PM

      I feel you so completely, and I laugh because I am totally guilty of being inconsistent with my own star ratings! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Nicole!

  9. Realms of My Mind

    April 25, 2019 at 4:14 PM

    This is something I’ve gone back and forth on myself! When I started reviewing, I didn’t use stars, preferring not to tie my feelings to a scale and just let me work through my feelings. I can’t quite explain what drew me into using ratings, other than I saw other blogs using it and worried that people skim reading would be turned off by not having a quick and easy explanation of what I read. I’ve tried to mitigate some of the ratings ambiguity by putting my brief explanation of the rating alongside it (ie. 3/5 Stars – Liked it!).

    Ratings really are a subjective thing. I personally try to limit 5 star books to OMG I CAN’T STOP FLAILING books, so there are a ton of “These were really good!” books that I give 4 stars for no other reason than that they juuust didn’t tick the meter over. It’s a little strange trying to explain that in a review; the indefinable “I have no real faults with this book, other than I didn’t flail as much as when I read this other book.”

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:21 PM

      I have to say that since I decided to not do ratings it has been SO FREEING!?!?! Like, I just sit down to review and sort through my feelings and it is so lovely??? I understand the pressure of being afraid people won’t read the review or skim without the rating though, but I like your idea of adding a brief explanation next to it!

      I also reserve my 5-star ratings for the EXCUSE ME WHILE I SCREAM AND FLAIL books; it sounds like we are similar in that regard! Thanks so much for your comment!

  10. The Happy Book Blog.

    April 25, 2019 at 4:40 PM

    I don’t usually bother with ratings, cos we all have our own different tastes. 🙂

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:22 PM

      Makes perfect sense to me!!!

  11. thewolfandbooks

    April 25, 2019 at 4:55 PM

    I have been debating doing away with mine for so long but I seem so attached to a rating system. I even thought of just being simple and saying Favorite, Good, Just Okay, Bad. For me, 5 is out of this world but most of my books rank between 1-4 and 5 is just the gold star. Like a GPA. People with a 5.0 GPA went above and beyond but 4 is still positive. It makes me wonder if 1-5 even makes sense.

    On a separate note, I gave a V.E. Schwab book 3.5/5 and I love her writing. For me, 3.5 was a 7/10 so still above average. I also feel like people think 3 stars means bad because of this expectation that every book must live by a 5 star standard otherwise it’s not worth it. I read 3 star books all the time. Usually it’s books that are out of my personal comfort zone like thriller other historical fiction. I will usually rate a good fantasy 4 and 5 just because that’s why I enjoy typically.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:25 PM

      I hear you on feeling attached to the rating system, and given that Amazon and Goodreads run on the ratings it is impossible to do away with them completely anyways. I also think of 5 stars as the gold star standard, the books I flail about the most.

      You also bring up a really good point about rating genres outside of your comfort zone differently! I definitely look for different things across the genres that I read, and things that hinder my enjoyment in SFF don’t really apply in horror and mystery. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts & reading!

  12. Eustacia | Eustea Reads

    April 25, 2019 at 6:20 PM

    I don’t do ratings on the blog, but I star books on Goodreads. I think my scale is pretty inconsistent – the baseline for me is five (which makes differentiating between good and great books difficult) and I minus things from there. I hate giving one stars (I’d rather DNF the book) so those are pretty rare and I had to really hate the book for that to happen. I do find that when I’m reading reviews, I like reading those that are four and three stars better because I find they have a bit more discussion on the pros and cons of the book.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:27 PM

      Huzzah for another inconsistent rater! It does make sense to start with 5 and deduct as needed; I always have such a difficult articulating the difference between a good a great read. I totally agree though that I enjoy a balanced review that discusses pros and cons a bit more than gushing reviews now that you mention it!

  13. Never Not Reading

    April 25, 2019 at 6:59 PM

    I think that’s a great idea! I am like you, when I write a negative review I still try to find the positives of the book and why others might like it. I’ll keep my star ratings, but they’re not very prominent in my reviews, and I rarely say anything about them. Instead at the end of my review I usually say “I recommend this if… I don’t recommend this if…”

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:29 PM

      Just because I didn’t enjoy a book doesn’t mean that others will have the same experience (unless it is problematic or poorly written), which is why I really love the “recommend/don’t recommend” method of rating because of the subjectivity of a reading experience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  14. The Repvblic of Letters

    April 25, 2019 at 7:47 PM

    As a blogger, never have, never will!

    Years ago, when I actively used goodreads to track my reading, I had a system like: 0 stars means I haven’t read or absolutely detested or could not care less for, 1 had more things I did not like than liked, 2 was not for me, 3 was ‘this is a quality book but I will not be rushing to re-read it on my deathbed’, 4 was for ‘I loved this, this is what I want in a story’ and 5 was reserved for the books I loved so much I would want to read again. In my mind, if a book got a star, it had at least *one* good thing about it, and a 5 star book was a book that earned a special place in my heart. But since goodreads doesn’t count empty stars, I think bloggers got in the habit of giving one star as zero, and then suddenly it become misconstrued as an objective rating which it never ought to have been.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:38 PM

      I know what you mean about 1 star ratings being the default kind of construes things a bit; I would much rather leave 0 stars for books I got no joy from but that’s what the System has deemed the 1 star rating for. Which is odd when you think about it. Then again, if I hate a book so much as to want to give it 0 stars, I typically DNF it and don’t rate it anyways. Which I guess counts? haha

  15. thelitplace

    April 25, 2019 at 10:45 PM

    Love this post. I agree and it’s one of the reasons that I don’t like to do typical reviews as well as give star ratings. Also 3 out of 5 is still a high score as you say! Everything you enjoy can’t be a 4 or 5.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:39 PM

      Thank you so much, Amy!

  16. Karlita

    April 25, 2019 at 11:25 PM

    I mostly use the star rating based on how I feel or how I love the book but I agree that giving a 3 stars doesn’t mean the book is not great. For me, it means I liked it enough. I think it’s the neutral counterpart in everything that uses star rating? Let’s put it this way, if you rate a book from 1 to 10, a 3-star rating is more likely the equivalent to a score of 6 which is not so bad right?🤷

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:41 PM

      YUP I agree with you — neutral is what I view 3 stars as, and I just don’t consider neutral as BAD. Which I think is where some of the subjectivity comes in. I definitely use my feelings a lot when coming up with my ratings now after sorting through my feelings through the review process, I just leave them on GR/Amazon only. Thanks for reading, Karlita~

  17. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

    April 26, 2019 at 12:01 AM

    You bring up so many great points here, Kaleena! Rating systems are incredibly subjective, and a number alone is incapable of accurately reflecting the opinions of various people.

    I personally consider a 3 star or higher to be a mostly “positive review” on my part, but as you stated, many readers consider 3 stars as mediocre or even negative. I have no issues with posting negative reviews, but definitely think that these star ratings can be misleading.

    Not to mention “3 stars” can differ across genres too. Since I read fantasy quite often, a rating of 3 stars in this genre might hold more weight than that of a contemporary novel with the same rating.

    Lovely post as always, sweets! ❤️

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:43 PM

      I totally agree with you on my star ratings fluctuating when I read across genres; I tend to be a little more critical when it comes to science fiction and fantasy because of worldbuilding, and that affects ratings a lot. Thanks so much for your comment, love! xoxo

  18. Deanna

    April 26, 2019 at 6:03 AM

    I so get what you mean, I just got a comment on that for a three star review…and I was like I didn’t hate it?? I think you are so right, but I’m not sure I’m ready to remove star ratings yet. 3 stars reviews are FINE, the book was okay, but I think people don’t realize that.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:45 PM

      LOL I am glad to not be the only one to be all “I didn’t hate this???” in response to a comment! I think some people may just want to read GREAT books and thus don’t view okay/average reads as worthy of their time? The thing is no two people read the same book, and just because it was average for me doesn’t mean it won’t be a 5 star read for someone else.

  19. Avery @ RedRocketPanda

    April 26, 2019 at 6:18 AM

    I personally like using star ratings because it encourages me to pin down how I felt about the book and helps me to formulate the rest of my review. I have definitely noticed a lot of people doing away with star reviews recently though which is interesting as I can definitely understand why (all the points you mentioned in your post)!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:46 PM

      Interesting, do you tend to rate before reviewing? I’ve found a couple of times that I thought a book was a 5-star read for me until I wrote the review and sorted through my thoughts, so I tend to write my reviews first. I am genuinely intrigued!

  20. brittanythebookguru

    April 26, 2019 at 7:12 AM

    I struggle a lot with the star rating system as well. I’ve continued to use it solely because Goodreads and Amazon use it and it’s easier to keep my reviews consistent across all platforms, but I get frustrated often when trying to put all of my thoughts and emotions into one silly little star rating. I’m much like you in the sense that, to me, a 3 star rating is not bad. I usually give out 3 stars if I found the book to be average. Also like you, I always try to mention at the end of my reviews who I think could enjoy the book, even if I didn’t. I do this because I think it’s so important for those of us who are influencing other peoples’ reads to remind them that everyone reads the same book differently! I feel like people get tired of me saying that, but it’s so true. A book that you might find to be completely awful could be a favorite of mine, and vice versa. To me, I want my reviews to be less about “this book is either good or bad” and more about each aspect of what worked in the book and what didn’t. I very rarely am willing to completely disregard a book as unreadable and I don’t want anyone reading my reviews to think, “Well since she didn’t like it, I’m not going to give it a chance”. I certainly think that the rating system as a whole on all of these platforms (Goodreads, B&N, Amazon, etc.) could stand to be tweaked a bit.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:53 PM

      “To me, I want my reviews to be less about “this book is either good or bad” and more about each aspect of what worked in the book and what didn’t. ”

      ^^^ THIS x 1000%!
      We seem to approach reviewing in similar ways, and I definitely understand why you want to be consistent across platforms since we have to use ratings when we review on Amazon, B&N, and NetGalley (aka you cannot submit a review without one). I’ve felt a lot better about it since removing them on my blog – where I have the largest reach – just because I am such a qualitative thinker. Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Brittany!

      1. brittanythebookguru

        May 14, 2019 at 10:05 AM

        You’re welcome!!

  21. waytoofantasy

    April 26, 2019 at 8:03 AM

    This is a really great post and you bring up some fantastic points. I find myself thinking some of the same things when I go back and look how I rated books–it IS totally subjective! I think I keep them just because. Lol. I know they’re subject so they don’t really indicate anything other than how I felt after reading it lol.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:54 PM

      Thank you so much, Lisa! And no harm in keeping them since we have to use them on other sites anyways!

  22. Stephanie

    April 26, 2019 at 8:52 AM

    I’m with you. I don’t use star ratings (unless I’m talking about something I LOVED, and then I’ll mention it’s a five star book, but that’s IT), because they’re so subjective. For me, the three-star rating on Goodreads can either be, “It was okay, but I didn’t love it,” “It wasn’t for me but was well-written,” or “Ehhhh, it was alright, not terrible, but not great either,” depending on the book, so rating them this way on my blog just wouldn’t work, I think. It’s just too darn subjective and too easy to misconstrue, so I feel better explaining what I enjoyed about the book and what didn’t work for me.

    Excellent post! 🙂

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:56 PM

      “For me, the three-star rating on Goodreads can either be, “It was okay, but I didn’t love it,” “It wasn’t for me but was well-written,” or “Ehhhh, it was alright, not terrible, but not great either,” depending on the book”

      You know what? Me too now that I think about it! I have literally given books 3 stars for each of those reasons. Which is even further proof that I am not consistent at all hahaha. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts, Stephanie!

  23. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    April 26, 2019 at 2:57 PM

    This is incredibly timely discussion for me too Kal!! I wrote a discussion for tomorrow about ratings. I decided with my newest blog makeover that I was dropping ratings… or rather leaving them on Goodreads. I need them and want to remember what I said but its really hard to quantify them with 5 numbers when I don’t even want to read a book that is only 1 or 2 stars. And I’ve had that same experience… hahah someone telling me the opposite of what I said because of the rating. ❤️ I really relate to your reasoning.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 6:58 PM

      Ahhh Dani, I am going to have to go check out your post! With my semi-hiatus I am missing so much as I am not blogging, and I really am interested in seeing your thoughts on the subject! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  24. Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

    April 26, 2019 at 5:11 PM

    Yeah this is an ongoing issue for a lot of people, I think! I’m also a VERY qualitative person. I like rambling on about how a book makes me feel and diving into reasons *why* I think they make me feel those things. And sometimes that’s really hard to translate into numbers. But I also like being able to distinguish the “great” books from the “awesome” from the “HOLY SHIT INJECT THIS INTO MY VEINS” and using rating scales really help me do that.

    So I guess at the end of the day, the ratings are more for me, and the actual review itself is more for the people reading them. If that makes sense! Wonderful topic as always! <3

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 7:10 PM

      Thank you so much for your comment, Kathy! And I actually love what you said about ratings being for you and reviews being for readers — that makes a lot of sense! I do like distinguishing the good from great reads on my Goodreads account but 9.9 times out of 10 I toil over my ratings haha.

  25. Clo @ Book Dragons

    April 27, 2019 at 4:12 AM

    I always approached 3 stars as decent too, but like yourself I’ve relaised ratings don’t really convey my actual thoughts or feelings properly with the book. Plus I don’t always review books on my blog so erm…I’m still rethinking my rating system but I’m thinking it’ll involve me creating some cute graphics hehe.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 7:11 PM

      Oh my gosh, cute graphics for your ratings would be so cute! You should totally do something like that, it would be very on brand for your blog.

  26. SHA @ Book Princess Reviews

    April 27, 2019 at 4:31 PM

    This was a very well-written post. I can agree with everything you’re saying. I’ve never seen three stars as a bad rating. It only means I need to assess if what the reviewer points out as “cons” are also negative to me. The next question becomes… can I also do away with ratings? Um… maybe I’m not there yet. I do get frustrated when everything I think about a book has to come down to a scale of 1 to 5… Hmm. I need to sit and think now.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 7:43 PM

      Thank you so much, Shania! I don’t think doing away with ratings will be for everyone, but it has been nice for me.

  27. Cam @ Camillea Reads

    April 27, 2019 at 9:41 PM

    I tried using star ratings when I first started out with book blogging but I found that the ratings never fully reflected what I wanted to say. But the lack of star ratings on my blog also worry me a bit because I’m not sure if people are willing to read a lengthy review. I’ve been looking through different reviews trying to device a format that helps with that! I’ll be thinking on your post as I do this, Kaleena!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 7:50 PM

      I know what you mean, Camillea! I worry that people won’t read my reviews, which are long and overly verbose, because they aren’t easily skimmable but I don’t think it has affected my views or engagement. Good luck coming up with your own system, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  28. Jayati

    April 28, 2019 at 5:30 AM

    Ah I understand what you mean with people staying away from books that you give 3-stars to…
    Honestly, I give 3-stars to books that are pretty good too so…

    I totally get why you have done away with the star system because it doesn’t really show all your feeling about the book and it’s different from person to person and how some 4-stars can also be your favourites!

    Great post and I agree with all your points though I could never do away with stars or some sort of rating since it’s been ingrained in me for as long as I can remember!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 7:55 PM

      I know what you mean completely, we are definitely trained with the rating scale! I still do use them for Goodreads and Amazon, but I have liked not using them on my blog — where I have the biggest reach. I know that going rating-less isn’t for everyone, though!

  29. Gerry@TheBookNookUK

    April 28, 2019 at 1:21 PM

    Great post! I love how you’ve brought up the eternal conundrum that is a 3 star rating because I have been very confused by this and still remain very confused by this. I’m like you – I rate a book 3 stars if I liked it/ found it enjoyable/ consider it good but it just didn’t rock my world or make me think about it for days afterwards.

    I’ve had the same thing though – posting a 3 star review and then have comments from people saying it’s a shame I didn’t like it which makes me scratch my head because more often than not I’ve said that I *do* like it I just didn’t fall in love. Not every book has to change our lives, some books can be enjoyed for a moment in time and then moved on from.

    I love to read reviews and see the star ratings but then I also get confused when the content of a review is ‘did not like this one AT ALL, much yuck’ and then I see 3 stars because I wonder if that’s what has helped create the ‘3 stars is bad’ message. No idea, this whole thing is complex apparently 😛

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 8:12 PM

      There are some books that I enjoy reading but don’t… move me, if that makes sense? I enjoy reading a lot of cerebral SFF that borders on philosophy, and sometimes I enjoy breaking those up with a “fluffy read” like Pretty Little Liars or the Asylum series. They aren’t terrible books and are enjoyable, but I just don’t rate them the same. Which kind of falls into my being inconsistent haha

      But I agree that not all books need to change lives and they don’t have to wow you to be worth a read.

  30. Bookish: Book Blogger Hop #25 – The BookNook UK

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  32. Erin @ Paperbackstash

    April 29, 2019 at 11:43 AM

    Interesting viewpoint and I see your point. To me a 3 star, as you said, means I LIKED the book but some people think that’s a bad rating. I understand moving away from ratings if it’s not working for you.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 8:36 PM

      Yup, I just don’t see average as bad but I know that people sometimes feel differently! Thanks so much for reading.

  33. April Reflection – Bookwyrm Bites

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  34. facingthestory

    April 29, 2019 at 12:58 PM

    I love this discussion post! I agree with you that star ratings are very subjective and some readers are much more critical on books than others. We all have different opinions and it’s much easier to explain our feelings in words than on a scale that means something different to each of us.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 8:39 PM

      Thanks so much Darina, I am glad you liked the post! I definitely find it easier to describe with words… a number on a scale is too… limiting? for me?

  35. Malka @ Paper Procrastinators

    April 29, 2019 at 6:50 PM

    This is such an interesting post! I actually appreciate star ratings for the snapshot that they provide, but hear how they can be misleading. I think it’s because I mainly use reviews for books I’m on the fence about, or hadn’t heard of before, and for those all I want is a snapshot. Was it amazing? Yes. Great, I’ll look into it more. Was it terrible? Pass, I don’t need it in my life. Three stars are the ones that made me look closer to see what the issues were, or to look at other reviews and ratings. But I’m glad that making the change to remove ratings from your blog has been a positive experience! That’s what truly matters in the end!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 8:46 PM

      That makes a lot of sense and I do know that when reading reviews while hopping I do like the snapshot too. I am a complicated creature! I feel this weird burden though when it comes to those snapshots since ratings and reading experiences are so subjective and no two readers read the same book. I do worry that someone would see a book I didn’t like and possibly pull it off their TBR without seeing why, which is honestly silly of me to think that I have that kind of power. Because I have a poor memory I definitely don’t mind reading spoiler-free reviews of opinions for books unless they are already on my immediate TBR so that my opinions aren’t swayed going in.

      Thanks so much for your comment, Malka!

  36. Monthly Wrap || April 2019 – the words gremlin

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  37. PerfectlyTolerable

    April 30, 2019 at 1:04 PM

    Ratings are super hard. Like you said they are subjective, and I’m not super consistent with my own ratings either haha. I once saw a rating where the person gave a book 3 stars and then proceeded to say it was the best YA book he had ever read and that he really liked it, but he said he couldn’t give it a higher rating because its average rating was higher than most classic books’ average ratings and he didn’t think YA was as good of literature as the classics are.

    I feel like I could leave off star ratings on my blog, but I would feel weird reviewing them and not rating them on goodreads.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 13, 2019 at 9:04 PM

      I am so inconsistent with my own ratings and it’s really weird, haha! And uh regarding that 3-star rating because it wasn’t a classic person…. what a yucky attitude to have.

      Oh I totally still rate on Goodreads because I am complicated. But for some reason it doesn’t give me anxiety? I just write my reviews, sort out my thoughts and then rate… I jsut don’t put the star rating on the reviews posted on the blog anymore.

  38. Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)

    May 2, 2019 at 5:28 PM

    “Heck, I am not even consistent when it comes to my own ratings.” YES, KAL, YES. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve changed my rating systems over the years as I’ve grown up and therefore had the blog grow up with me as well. (I have a lot more 4-5 star ratings back then, but now as I become more critical, I very rarely give 5-star ratings.) I approach 3-stars as decent as well, though it usually falls more into the okay scale since it’s the middle of 1-5 scale.

    Plus ratings are just SO SO SO SO hard. I find it easier to write the review itself than actually coming up WITH the rating itself. Why can’t I just talk about my thoughts and feelings only and let everyone else judge? Why must it be riddled down to a simple cute object in space? (Stars didn’t deserve this and they sure didn’t ask for this treatment.)

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 14, 2019 at 5:14 PM

      I am glad that I’m not the only one inconsistent. I literally am harder on some genres, and as I get a better sense of what I like (and what I see a lot of) I’ve gotten kind of picky. I started with a lot of 5s too, and then the number dwindled over time as I got harder to impress? Which is shitty. Honestly since making this change I haven’t been quite so pedantic about my ratings on GR.

      HARD SAME. I write my reviews first and sort through my feelings before even coming up with a rating. And even then it is hard. I mean sometimes I am mesmorized and so in love with a book while reading it but as soon as it ends it is like the spell is broken and I start noticing things?? Why am I like this?!?! STARS DESERVE BETTER

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  40. Megan @ Ginger Mom and Company

    May 5, 2019 at 2:12 PM

    Very interesting! I struggle with star ratings a LOT. 5 stars are kinda a no-brainer for me. If I enjoyed the book enough to warrant 5 stars, I will know immediately. I rarely read books that are 1 or 2 stars so that’s not a problem, either. But 3s and 4s are hard. What constitutes a 3 star? Is that a bad thing or an okay thing? Would I pick up a book if it was rated 3 stars? Very confusing and very subjective. Thanks for sharing this discussion and I’m intrigued to start reading more of your recent reviews to see how the non-star rating is working!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 14, 2019 at 5:30 PM

      I FEEL YOU SO MUCH on the struggle with 3 and 4 star books, 3 stars especially because I find the reviews hard to write as well. And for me, I have enjoyed 3 star books on occasion! Not every read needs to be “thought provoking” or lifechanging to read but those are the kinds of books that really resonate with me and get higher ratings. Thanks for stopping by, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how my reviews work without the rating there!

  41. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan

    May 7, 2019 at 10:43 AM

    For similar reasons I stopped rating books on my blog. I do rate them on Goodreads and other store sites, as I don’t think that matters to me as much. I feel so relieved not having to feel guilty about the number of stars I give or do not give a book. I am glad you understand that too!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      May 14, 2019 at 6:03 PM

      I totally agree on the relief! For some reason rating on Goodreads doesn’t fill me with angst, lol. Thanks for reading and sharing on Twitter!

      1. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan

        May 15, 2019 at 2:44 AM

        Yes I agree, ratings on Goodreads is not that bad!

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