Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Friday, October 14, 2011

Three Stars, Anyone?

I've seen a lot of authors bemoaning three star ratings on Goodreads lately, as if it were a bad thing. And I'm thinking, what? I thought three stars was a good rating. I routinely give three stars to books that I like, because that's what it says when you hover over three stars:

I like it. 

So, if I've offended any of my author friends with a three star rating, please rest assured I mean it as a positive review. Three stars is kind of my default rating. I don't bother rating (or even finishing) books I don't like. Four stars go to books that have something special about them that I especially like. Five stars are reserved for books destined to be my all-time favorites. Ender's Game, Lord of the Rings ... you understand.


It's so hard to boil down how you feel about a book into a number between 1 and 5. That's why I don't particularly like Goodreads, actually.

What do you think? What kind of books do you give three or four or five stars to? Would you be offended with a three star rating?

24 comments:

Krista said...

I would not be offended. I think you are right. 3 stars means I liked it. 4 I likes it a lot. And 5 I loved it. I do not give out many 5people star ratings.

Angela Felsted said...

I'm with you on the three star thing. When I give four stars to a book, that means I really really like it.

Not only that, but I've been rating a lot of books with four stars lately, which means I've read some really great books.

I do wish people wouldn't think the worst.

Stephanie McGee said...

Five stars is for a book that I absolutely have to recommend right that instant because it's just that good.

Those are rare to come by. 5 stars also goes to all-time favorites, but I'm more likely to give my all-time faves a 4 star rating simply because most of my faves I know won't be received the same by people I would recommend things to.

4 stars go to that and to books which I really enjoyed but I'm not jumping on Twitter to tell everyone about.

3 stars are a step down from there, where I enjoyed them, may or may not read them again, but go on the list of gift-books, which is books to buy as a gift should the right recipient enter my life.

2 stars are for books that just didn't do it for me (and sometimes for books I didn't finish, but I'm moving away from that model) and 1 star ratings are for books I abhor.

Rarely do I leave more of a review than that on a book.

AstonWest said...

Those who actually review books on Goodreads understand how the star system works there, so they don't view it as a negative (as I don't). Those who are used to Amazon ratings alone are usually the ones who get upset.

Of course, I also "like" any review ("good" or "bad") that comes with verbiage that explains what they think of the book, so...

Angie said...

Yeah, Todd. I'm not so great at writing actual reviews. I'll have to try and get better at that. Thanks for stopping by!

Melissa Sugar said...

Hi, I am visiting from the pay it forward blogfest. You come highly recommended.

I am with you on the star rating. Three stars means, "I like it". If I gave five stars to every good book that I liked, what would be left for the books that rock my world.

You have a very valid point.

It is nice to meet you.
Melissa

Melanie Goldmund said...

Yeah, I usually give three stars to a book that I enjoyed enough to read all the way to the end without struggling, but which didn't have that something special to get four or even five stars.

Would I be offended at getting three stars? On the one hand, I'd be pleased that it wasn't worse, on the other hand, I'd wonder what I could do better to get that extra star. So I wouldn't exactly be offended, no, but not completely pleased, either. But that's all in the future, I'm afraid, and some days it looks farther away than others.

Angie said...

Yes, I see your point Melanie. I would probably wonder too. But it's all so subjective anyway. I just have to write the best book I can and hope that readers love it like I do. Thanks for stopping by!

Larry and Cindy said...

Angie, I think your way of rating is good. If every book got 5 stars then what would I give to books that were simply awesome? I think 3 should mean I liked that book, it was great but there are others I like better. Great subject to discuss. You are awesome!!!

dellgirl said...

Thanks for another thought provoking post, I like it. This will come in handy if I ever decide to "rate" a book.

I’m just stopping in to say hello. Hope you have a magnificent Weekend!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I'm sad to say that yeah, I've been offended by many starred reviews from friends (and family, even) that were less than 5 stars. I kept wondering why I was offended. I kept wondering if I was being silly. I kept wondering if there was any way to get rid of that feeling and just "toughen up" - but there was nothing I did that could fix that I do feel hurt when I see a starred review from someone I respect and secretly hoped they'd adore my work.

I'm not speaking of you specifically, Angie. I actually have no idea what people rate my books these days. I stopped looking a long time ago because I finally realized that how people rate my books is really nothing I want or need to know unless they personally contact me and want me to know. This is just a personal thing that I had to arrive at in my own journey. I also don't rate books anymore. I don't leave Amazon reviews. I just feel that it's a conflict of interest in such a career (completely from my perspective, and I don't look down on other authors who do so). If I leave any reviews at all, they are what I found uplifting, positive, and beautiful in the work.

I wonder if I should blog about this...

Anyway, thank you for your post, Angie. It's a great reminder to see how subjective book ratings are. For some authors, these things don't even phase them. For others (like me), book rating stuff is something I have to avoid in order to let my writing and career grow at a healthy pace.

Nichole Giles said...

I absolutely agree. I won't give five stars to just any book. It has to be really, really special. Three stars is what I give to books I liked a lot, and four is for books that are exceptional, but not spectacular, like my five star picks.

Those who think of three stars as bad are overly sensitive, I think. No one is going to fall in love with every book they read. But as an author, I'll settle for a three-star-I-like-it any day!

Carolyn V said...

I agree with you too. A five star has to be super good!

Angie said...

Thanks, Dellgirl! Hope you had a great weekend too.

LTM said...

I think you're absolutely right... and I never do it. :D I do give four star ratings to books I like, and I do reserve my five stars for books that I think are just fantastic! But if it's a 3-star book, unless I was just really disappointed (and it won't matter b/c it's a big-time author), I keep it to myself. :D <3

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Jolene Perry said...

This is SO hard.

I'm way too nice in reviews and then when I read an ACTUAL five-star book, I'm all mad b/c I didn't save it.

Kaylee Baldwin made a great point in that if she's not sure if she wants to read a book or not, she'll look at all the three-star reviews. She said those are usually the most honest.

Right now I want to take all my stars off my reviews, and just leave the reviews there.

It's like everyone has their own criteria of what is 1,2,3,4 and 5 stars, and so yeah, the starring is pretty much meaningless.

I've given this WAY too much thought, obviously ;D

Jackee said...

I agree! If 5 stars is amazing, then that means books I like range from 3 to 5. Because there are few books (like the ones you listed) that deserve an "amazing" rating. But like you said, I hate to offend my author friends if I don't call their book amazing, so I'm in the same boat as you... it's a dilemma.

Have a 5-starred night, Angie! :o)

Shallee said...

I went through the same exact thing recently. I use the same basic "liked it, really liked it, amazing" technique you do, so it shocked me when I saw people giving three star reviews and then totally bashing a book. I went through and just removed all the three-star ratings I'd given.

I've actually decided I hate the ratings system, and I'm tempted to just remove all my ratings completely. It's so subjective, that it hardly means anything.

Stephanie Black said...

To me, three stars seems like the rating with the biggest range of meaning--to some people, it means "I liked it," to others it means "Didn't like it much." It's hard to know how to interpret it if the writer doesn't leave a review comment as well!

I've stopped giving stars with Goodreads reviews, and I enjoy feeling free to comment on books without having to come up with an overall rating. It's just to hard to rate books when I know so many authors.

Angie said...

You're right, Stephanie. It's more useful to get an actual review than an arbitrary rating. I think that's a good policy. I appreciate your comments!

kbrebes said...

Something to think about, but overall, I like what Stephanie said, too!

Kellie said...

I agree! A three star rating is good from me. It means I enjoyed the book enough to recommend it to others and will read it again. Four stars means there was something really special about the book to me and five stars means the "it was amazing" that is on the Goodreads site.

If I didn't like it then I give it a 1 or 2 or don't rate it at all. I think it is harder when rating someone you know because then there's the pressure of wanting to please them as much as possible, but also wanting to be honest and if the book was a 3 star and not a 5, they will probably already know it.

Kellie said...

Maybe I should add that to me, there is a huge gap between 2 stars and 3 stars.