I didn't use to dwell too long on the all too seemly simplicity of book ratings. Certainly not before joining Goodreads two years ago, and even less so before creating the very book blog that you are currently reading, roughly seven months ago. You as a reader generally knows what agrees with you in the book world and that of which does not, but does one tend to fully digest the books that one is reading, to really think about it and allow that book to freely speak to one, if one is not actively thinking about it? I think so, but I also think that when your next step following the completion of a book is to then rate it and compose a review on it, that you are perhaps subconsciously absorbing more out of that book because you are more actively thinking about it throughout the reading experience, whether aware of it or not. Much like being a part of a book club.
However there are so many things to take into consideration when rating a book. As a general rule I do have a pretty basic method of going about this, however certain things need to be taken into consideration when doing so. What a book seeks out to accomplish, and whether or not it succeeds or fails, plays a large part in my rating. Books can make you think, make you laugh, make you cry, purely entertain you, or scare you. All of these books are very different from each other, but all are possible candidates for a five star rating depending on how well the author executed it. That's one thing to take into consideration. I might rate a classic five stars because of the beautiful writing and the overall story that it has to tell, but I might rate another book five stars because of its entertaining value. So I definitely take into consideration what the author is trying to accomplish, as well as what feelings the book evoke. However, with that being said one thing that probably plays the most part in my rating system is the overall writing. The writing is one of the most important aspects of a book, closely followed up by the story itself. The two cannot exist alone without the other being there to balance them out. I cannot, and will not, read a ill written book. It just brings the whole quality of the book crashing down, and I can't enjoy a book no matter the story line, if I cannot even tolerate the writing. A book can also be beautifully written but the writing may be poorly concealing a weak story. Neither one works for me on a stand alone basis, they need to be equally balanced out. So those three all play a very large part in my rating process.
But then we have the actual ratings themselves. I am a critical rater of books, most people know this. I have a 3.40 average rating on Goodreads. So my star ratings might mean something different from other people's star ratings. I thought that it would be interesting to delve deeper into this subject.
One star ratings are reserved for those books that I actually hated. Yes, hated. I hated the writing, I hated the story, I hated the characters. There just wasn't anything about this book that I did like. These books are never read fully through, I usually cast them away from me almost immediately. These are the books that fill me with nothing but disgust, distaste, and contempt.
This rating doesn't actually differ very much from my one star rating other then the writing and/or story being perhaps a mere fraction better then the books thrown into my one star ratings. These are the books that I did not enjoy, did not finish, but that I did not hate quite so severely as the one star books.
This is where my rating changes up a little more. Being a person whom highly believes in not wasting your time on bad books, the books that fall into this category are also very susceptible to not being completed. However a three star rating means that the writing and the story were vast improvements from my one star, and two star ratings. So although this book probably didn't appease the book snob in me, other readers perhaps shouldn't scratch these books off of their future reading based sorely on my judgement, as they just might enjoy them. Especially my 3.5 star ratings. These are books that I just considered as 'okay' reads, not hating them but definitely not liking them either. Stuck in the middle.
For me, there is a huge difference between a 4 star rating and a 4.5 star rating. A four star rating means that I really liked it, however I don't want to own it and I will certainty never be reading it a second time. A 4.5 star rating however means that I actually loved it. This rating was so close to being a five star rating, but there were probably a few small things that slightly held it back from achieving that. These are the books that I actually want to own, and will be reading many times over.
This is the highest possible rating. This rating is reserved for very special books. All things have to add up in this book. Writing, plot, character development. It has to speak to me, it has to entertain me. It has to be special in order to receive this very special rating. You won't often see me rating a book as five stars. These books find a permanent home in my library and are read, reread, and reread again.
So as you can see, my rating system probably doesn't add up to a lot of other peoples rating systems. I wanted to touch on this so that you have a better idea of where my thoughts lay when I do rate and review books on here.
I would be interested to hear how other people rate books, and what those ratings mean as far as their thoughts go.