Today I am going to be talking about how I rate my books. I think everyone rates books differently and gives and takes away stars based on different things, so while a rating can give you an idea of what a book is going to be like, they are very subjective because people don’t rate things the same way. I therefore thought it would be a good idea to make this post to explain how I rate my books both in the hope that it might give anyone just getting into reading an idea about how other people rate their books and as a reference for anyone else reading my blog to refer back to, so that they can understand my ratings better. Of course there is no right or wrong way to rate a book, so if you rate your books completely differently to mine then that is absolutely fine! I just wanted to share a bit about my thought process, so let’s get into it. Also please feel free to share how you rate your books in the comments!
Before we get into the rating I wanted to tell you what kinds of books I typically read because I have slightly different rating scales for different kinds of books. I read mostly YA fiction (in a variety of genres), but I also read some middlegrade and some non-fiction as well. Anything that I read that strays from those genres/age-ranges is usually for school and I usually don’t like.
I use the standard 0 to 5 star rating scale that most people use, but I utilize it slightly differently depending on what genre I am reading. I am going to start by talking about YA fiction because that is what I read the majority of the time and have the most experience with: As I general rule, I am quite an ‘easy-to-please’ reader and I don’t get too nit-picky about writing style or little errors, so I don’t really include those when rating a book unless they were noticeably amazing or awful because, as a general rule, doesn’t bother me or affect my reading experience. What I do include in my rating though are the following things – Pace, Whether I feel attached to the characters, Whether I am itching to pick it up whenever I am not reading it, Predictability, the importance or relevance to an important topic and my overall enjoyment.
Let me explain some of those in a bit more detail. By ‘Pace’ I mean how fast or slow the book is, is there a lot of action happening or are there some quieter points in the book. I personally prefer faster paced books because I have a somewhat limited attention span. I don’t mind if there are little lulls in the action in the middle of the book, but I struggle to get through a book when the beginning is slow paced because nothing is happening and it takes me a lot longer to get into the story. The Pace doesn’t affect my rating massively, but I would say I’d usually dock the rating about half a star if the pacing wasn’t to my liking. This does depend on what sort of mood I was in at the time of reading the book though because sometimes my difficulty with getting into a book is due to a bad mood or a small reading slump, so if that is the case I may not dock the book any stars.
I feel like the next two points are pretty self-explanatory, but I will go into a bit more detail anyway. Whether I feel attached to the characters is quite important to me while I am reading because, as I’m sure most people can understand, if I don’t care what happens to the characters, then the book isn’t going to have a massive effect on me while reading. I do generally have some sort of attachment with most characters because I am quite easy-to-please, but there have been a few instances where I have just not cared for the main character specifically, which has really affected my reading experience. For example, I read a book called Ink by Alice Broadway and recently read the sequel and, although I love the world, I didn’t see any of the plot twists coming and the whole book is incredibly unique, I simply don’t care about the main character, which is a real shame. Whether or not I feel attached to the characters or not can affect the rating by anything from half a star to 2 stars depending on how much I disliked or didn’t care for the characters. In the case of Ink by Alice Broadway, I docked it 1 star for that reason.
I feel like when I say am I ‘itching to pick up a book when I’m not reading it’, you all know exactly what I mean, but the main purpose for this part of my rating process is to separate the really good books from the amazing books. I have read books that I have given 5/5 stars for one reason or another because I did really enjoy them and they were ‘really, really good’, but I wasn’t necessarily thinking about them at all hours of the day wanting to do nothing else, but read them. There are some books that do do that for me though (e.g. Harry Potter, literally any Leigh Bardugo or Cassandra Clare book, Percy Jackson etc.) and that is how I separate those books in my mind. Sometimes this might not affect the rating at all because they were already at 5 stars for some other reason, but it is more so that I can separate them in my head and remember to mention it in my monthly wrap-ups.
Predictability is literally just ‘did I predict anything that was going to happen?’ and ‘how many times did that happen?’. I would usually dock anything from half a star to 1 star depending on the answers to those questions.
What I mean when I say ‘the importance or relevance to an important topic’ is whether the book covers any important topics such as mental health, racism, sexism, ableisim etc. and whether or not it is executed well. This doesn’t just encompass contemporary though because I also count things such as important morals or lessons from fantasy books that aren’t necessarily directly related to something, but still teach the reader something. Some good examples of books that did their topics justice would be ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas, The Normal Series by Holly Bourne and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Some bad examples (in my opinion) would be ‘All the Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven and ’13 Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher. Of course not every book has morals, teachings or is based around a relevant societal issue, so this isn’t always relevant, but if it is, then this has a large impact on the rating. The portrayal and execution of the relevant topic can often override some other factors when rating a book.
For example, I have ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas 5/5 stars because it was a deeply moving book, it taught me a heck of a lot and I am told that it has incredibly accurate representation; however, I personally didn’t feel very connected to Starr as a character. I don’t think this was because of the writing style or because she was an unlikeable protagonist, but simply because her situation is so radically different to my own and she is a very different person to me that I couldn’t see any of myself in her and therefore really struggled to relate. I felt that that was a small factor compared to everything else I got out of the book though, so I ended up not including that factor when deciding on my rating.
The final thing that affects my rating is my overall enjoyment of the book and how I felt while reading it. I feel an excellent example for this is the book series I am currently reading, which is the ‘Fallen Series’ by Lauren Kate. The story is fairly predictably, the main character is very annoying and the writing isn’t amazing; however, they are really fun books, very original in the idea even if the execution isn’t amazing and I am surprising invested in the story despite my dislike of the incredibly impulsive and not amazingly intelligent main character. I think it is important to remember that we do read for fun and not to critique every aspect of every book you read and it is okay to like books that are ‘objectively speaking’ kind of crap just because they are fun.
I am aware that this post is getting very long, but I am going to talk briefly about how I rate middlegrade and non-fiction books because I do them slightly differently. With middlegrade, I use a similar method to when I am rating YA books, but I only really rate it on enjoyment, attachment to characters and the pace. I simplify my rating scale slightly for middlegrade because of course the books are aimed at a younger audience and so I’m not really expecting them to be as hard-hitting as something like ‘The Hate U Give’ and I wouldn’t be surprised if I predicted some things because I am a lot older than the targeted readership.
Rating non-fiction books is a little different because they are obviously not stories and therefore don’t have characters to get attached to or plot twists to predict, so I rate them based on how easy I found the book to read and understand, whether the information was laid out in a simple, accessible way and how much I actually learnt from it. I feel like all of those points are self-explanatory enough that you don’t need me to explain them to you, so I will end this post here.
If you got this far, then well done because I know this is an incredibly long post and I did go on rather. How do you rate your books? Are you an easy-to-please reader like me or are you a bit of a nit-picker? I’d love to know, so do comment down below and tell me!
Goodbye for now!
Over and Out