Why Book Ratings Aren’t Accurate


One might say that book ratings are what make the literary world go round. A good rating obviously means it’s a good book, right?

Not necessarily.

When you take the time to think about it, those star ratings aren’t much more than a Goodread’s average. A silly little concoction that gives me an excuse to bring a book home. “It had good ratings,” I might say. Translation, “I love this cover so much. I had to take it home. Actually, I don’t even remember what this book is about.”

Though ratings are always amazing to use instead of saying, “I am clinically crazy and picked up a book at random,” why aren’t they that accurate?

Friend expectations.

My friend loved this book! Five stars, the whole nine yards. I cannot like it any less.

Come on. You know that you’re guilty of this. If a friend of mine likes the book? I’m going to look at the whole book differently from the moment I set my eyes on the cover. If I’m told that I’ll love it, why would I want to do anything else? I, personally, hate disliking a book a friend thought I would like.

Tangled Horse Hit GIF
Because maybe we’ll do this if I don’t like it.

Other reviews.

I try to avoid reading reviews on books I’m currently reading (unless it’s terrible and I want to know if it gets any better) for this reason. There have been so many times that I’ve read some after I wrote my own review just to feel like maybe I rated it wrong. I mean, I didn’t consider things the way they did. Maybe I should have a rating more like their rating. Their rating makes sense. Why did I even review that book. . .

Other random circumstances.

Lately I’ve had horrid luck with books. The books I’ve received for review have killed me. In the I’d-like-to-quit-but-I’m-already-200-pages-in way.

I Have Very Little Patience For Stupidity GIF

Books not for review? Eh, I’ve been busy and haven’t had as much time set aside for them. But I just started a review book the other day (Oblivion by Sasha Dawn) and it’s actually been good. So, as you can imagine, I’ve been obsessing/fangirlng/whatever-word-you-use-to-express-extreme-excitement. Whether it’s the book itself or just my happiness in reading something that actually makes sense and is written well I don’t know. I like to think it’s the book, but.

Coincidentally, the alternate can happen. Sometimes I’ve read books that are so good that whatever I read next just. . .well. . .sucks.

And what about those books that we can’t read for some reason? I get busy. Sometimes I only get to read 2 or 3 pages of something at a time. Sometimes the longer a book takes me, the more I want to give it a meh rating even if it was good.

Do you ever give ratings that could be inaccurate? Tell me about it in the comments below!

15 thoughts on “Why Book Ratings Aren’t Accurate

  1. I find ratings hard sometimes. It might be a 4 star book that really should be 5, but it’s not quite 5, that’s when I begin to give .5 ratings too. I find it harder now I read more to find 5 star books!

    1. .5 ratings sometimes help. They hurt my head, though. I agree with five star books being harder to find! I think it’s because we’re looking at books more critically. When it comes to reviewing things, we’re looking at the books even more closely and notice more things that give it a lower rating to us.

  2. I had a similar discussion about the difficulty of rating books (asking what ratings are based on–emotional connection, ease of reading, technical aspects) and had some really interesting comments. I think as a reviewer rating a book is the hardest part. I struggle very much in making sure that when I approach rating I do so based on myself and try not to let others influence me. But as you said, that’s impossible. I think the longer I blog the better I get at being fully honest with how I felt. I’m with you, I don’t read reviews until I’ve written my own but I have checked once I’ve rated to see how mine is compared to others. It always feels odd being the odd person out (everyone loved but I didn’t or vice versa) I love the topic of ratings and great post!

    1. It really does feel odd. I mean, if everyone else loves it, no doubt I should too, right? I think I’m getting better at rating as I go on, but it’s hard for me with some books after I’ve seen a lot on other blogs or Twitter about it–even when I wasn’t specifically trying to read about it.

  3. After reviewing for over a year, I agree, ratings do affect me in a strange way. I do find myself writing reviews, then looking at others and wondering whether my opinion should have been different. I also rate in .5’s, so it’s become even more difficult to rate a book with the full 5 stars than it has bee previously, and I think I’ve become much more picky in my ratings. I’ve also currently found myself loving the books on my shelves or at the library, so reading ARC’s is currently on the back-burner unless they’re ones I really wanted. This is a great topic Kelsey, as always πŸ˜€

    1. Oh, yes. Blogging has definitely made me more picky in rating books. I use .5’s sometimes, but I try to avoid them. They mostly confuse me. Blogging has definitely been an adventure, though. I cringe at a lot of things I rated when I first started or before I blogged. I mean, today? I would not give all those books five stars. Four stars had no meaning to me. If I liked it, it had to be five stars.

  4. Yes. *weeps into sleeve* I do, shamefully enough. I rated a book 4 the other day, when it had every potential to be a 5…I just didn’t feel like rating it a 5. I just didn’t….connect or something? Not hugely. And after I read a REALLY good book, it takes a few books to drop me down from the clouds and make me give out lavish ratings again. But I never remember why I borrow/request books. It’s usually for the cover. I am so shallow like that.

    1. Ugh, it’s so hard to get back to giving good ratings after a good book. And don’t get me started on reading ick books. If you hand me what would normally by a three star book after I read some 1 and 2 stars? That three star book has potential to get rated lower. I get really critical of things then. . .

      *coughs* Half the things I click on NetGalley? I have no idea what they are, but their cover/title grabbed me. . .

  5. I have totally wanted to do the elbow shove when I read a book I don’t like that got good ratings. Not from friends, just like to the bookish community in general. You know the ones you read that have above a 4.0 rating and they’re JUST. SO. BAD. Probably off-topic but I always think of this one series when I think about bad books that enticed me with their pretty covers and hey look at that, I’m off topic again.

    I might not say inaccurate, but definitely subjective. 3 stars to me means it was good. I probably wouldn’t read it again, but I liked it. There were problems but nothing horrible and I don’t need to rant or anything. 4 stars I’m raving. 5 stars is the equivalent of me going crazy and talking about the book on a WEEKLY basis. I very rarely rate a book 5 stars right off the bat. It usually earns a 4 and then works its way up to a 5 based on how frequently I think about it and how soon I’m thinking of a reread. For a lot of people, that would be inaccurate or overly harsh, but for me, it works.

  6. I used to love giving ratings and now I’m starting to hate it. I don’t know what the change was… but I think a lot of it is because I’ll rate something 4 stars and then 6 months later I think back and start changing my mind. Like if I still think about it and love it this long after I read it, shouldn’t it have been a 4 star-er? Then I want to change it. And then I have books that I loved the writing and the story, but it didn’t turn out how I personally wanted it to, so my instinct is to rate it lower. But should I really rate that book the same as a book that the writing and character depth struggled, but the story was interesting?? It’s SO confusing.

    Then I think I wouldn’t be able to handle NOT rating my books because that is just how I’ve always done it. It’s a love/hate thing 😦

    Love this topic!

    1. I know. . . Ratings make no sense when you really think about them because I would not even compare a lot of books I’ve rated the same. No doubt one of them is the best 3 star book and one is the worst 3 star book. It’s like each of the five star categories have a wide range of books that can fall within the rating. I mean, I guess that’s why people pull out the .5 ratings. I don’t usually do this, but I’m usually feeling guilty over a rating when I do.

      I don’t think I could survive not rating them either. . .

  7. I to avoid rating books in my reviews simply because I prefer to give my opinions and then let the readers make what they want of them themselves, although I get what you mean about certain situations affecting your opinion on a book, after a finish a seriously amazing book everything else seems pretty bland for a week or two and that is pretty annoying. Great post πŸ™‚

    1. I can see how that makes sense! I’ve used ratings for years, so it’s really hard for me to snap out of it, but I can see how not rating could be useful.

      It’s really sad how all your next books seem bland after something amazing. I mean, what if they were actually good and my mind lied to me?

  8. Thank you for this!! This is why we rate books out of 5 in four different categories and then average them–because the reason you like one book can be SO different from the reason you like another book. I discovered this when I accidentally gave both 50 SHADES and ORDER OF THE PHOENIX 4/5 stars on Goodreads…obviously they do not have the same place in my heart.


    1. Ooh, four categories! I bet that’s a great system. We do three categories here and it’s pretty nice, but sometimes I feel like I’m missing something. It really helps with averaging ratings, though.

      But, yeah, I feel you there! I have a few books rated similarly on Goodreads, but looking back it’s kind of cringe worthy. . .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s