Bookish Blatherings #23: Harsh Book Ratings

Posted June 25th, 2015 in Bookish Blatherings, My Features / 39 comments

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Welcome to Bookish Blatherings, a Bad Bird Reads feature where I ramble about bookish or bloggerish things and hopefully you will join in on the discussion.

I don’t know why but I have been pretty harsh with my star ratings this past few months. Books I use to give 4 stars are now 3.5 stars. Books I really enjoy but don’t hit something special inside me are now 3 stars, no matter how good they are. I have given only one book 5 stars in the past few months, though I have read some amazing books. Even then, it took me like 20 minutes to reason out that Black Rainbow deserved 5 stars, but I still second guess myself.

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Is it age, is it my tastes changing, is it a fluke, is it permanent or temporary? I don’t know what is happening. I don’t want to get ride of my star rating system but I don’t feel like they are representative of my feelings toward books anymore. My reviews still express what I want them to express. That hasn’t changed. But that same instinct I use to have with book ratings is gone. I want it back. I feel a bit lost without it. I feel bad giving books I really like only 3 stars (I know, 3 stars is still a good rating, I am just being dramatic) for whatever reason. Or not giving an amazing book 5 stars. It’s starting to piss me off.

I can’t change what’s happening, but I was wondering if any of you have or are going through something like this? Has your rating instinct or system ever fail you? Are you harsh with your book ratings or more lenient? How do you decide on a book’s rating?

Have you ever hit a book rating slump and ended up giving books you enjoy lower ratings for whatever reason?

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39 Responses to “Bookish Blatherings #23: Harsh Book Ratings”

  1. Red Iza

    A rating slump, no, but I’ve noticed recently that I’m not as easy on books as I was before, when I started my blog. I don’t think I’m really harsher, just that I’ve read too many books of the same kind now, with the same tropes, the same kind of characters, the same reactions, so what used to be a 5 stars has become a 4, the surprise, the novelty of my beginnings is gone. This is why I’m willing to more different genres 😉
    3 stars is a good rating, I agree with you, but when so many, numerous books are released every day, with all the reviews and temptations we see on every blog, book site, how is 3 stars attractive any more ? When you own a book, read it and give it 3 stars, it’s good for the book in theory, but when you try to convince others to read it, they will be tempted to look for 5 stars books. I know I am.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      You know what, I think that’s it. I have read so many books that amazing book have almost become common.

      I think 3 stars is good, but comments from my three star books are always like, “sorry you didn’t like it that much,” which makes me feel bad cuz I like 3 star books.

  2. kindlemom1

    I’ve been doing this lately as well, books I would maybe in the past have rated five stars, are now four or three and a half as well. I think a lot has to do with being in a book slump and also that my tastes are changing. Or maybe I’m expecting (read demanding) more from my books now than I ever have before.
    I know that series I started years ago and loved, I’m just now trying to pick back up and I’m finding I barely even like the books let alone would I rate them as high as I once did.
    I don’t know. Maybe it a season thing, an expecting more thing, or like you said a book slump thing. I don’t know but I’ve barely rated a book behind four stars lately as well.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Yeah, 4 stars seems to be my cut off lately. I do think our tastes change as we read more and more, so maybe this is a forever thing. Jeeze.

  3. Suzi Q, The Book Dame

    I can be tough when it comes to handing out ratings and I am more harsh than I used to be in writing my reviews. I have kind of chocked it up to age, figuring that I give a shiz so much less if everyone likes it or not. As I get older, I have less of a problem being myself.
    Of course a large part of this could be due to the amount of books that we read. I know that I like to hold back on five stars, saving them for those extra special reads.
    Also, I don’t think that there is anything negative about a three star. I wouldn’t go into a book knowing that it was going to be a three star, but I consider it to a reasonably good rating. I notice a lot of condolences in the comments when I three star a book, so obviously others see it as more negative than I do.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Yesss, what’s up with the condolences for three star reviews. it drives me batty.

  4. Karen Blue

    I feel bad giving a book I like 3 stars but I reason that it won’t he loved by most people because it is such an aquired taste or has some major faults. I don’t think I become more harsh on my ratings as time has gone on.

  5. Ashley

    I’m definitely going through this too. I think it just gets tough the more books you read. It gets harder for a book to go above and beyond and REALLY wow you. There are plenty of books I like and enjoy, but I know they’re missing some kind of X factor to really pump me up about the book and make me fall head over heels enough for me to give it 5 stars.

    That used to happen a lot more often when I read fewer books. But now that I read more… I guess I’m just harder to please.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      And it’s so hard to explain what x factor is missing. And if I don’t explain I feel bad for giving the book less stars.

  6. Lekeisha

    I’m trying to decide if I want to stop doing my usual rating of 2.5 being a 3, and so forth. Simply because I don’t think that my ratings don’t really express my feelings for the book. If I don’t like a book, I’m taking my rating back a .5, and it’s really nagging me. I just want it to be clear, but I see now that I’ll just have to start doing .5’s from now on out. It’s the only way. I guess that everyone has their own thoughts on a 3 star rating. I’ve read reviews that have 3 stars and the reviewer thought that it was a “great book”. My 3 star means that I liked it enough that I made it through, but I won’t read it again. Everyone is different when it comes to books.

  7. Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict

    I agonize over those star ratings. I think 3 is a reasonable rating for a good book. One that was good, kind of average. I’m always scared I’m going to rate a book high, and then the next book I read is so much more amazing, and I can’t give them a higher rating than the previous book. So 4’s + always make me sit and stare at the screen weighing the options.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      LOL, I do this too. That’s why I made the 6 star rating. That means that the book was so amazing that the world pretty much imploded and all books have been ruined because it was so amazing. I have had 3 6 star rating in all my time of reading.

  8. Lily

    I feel you! Lately I’ve noticed that my reading habits have changed and i’m just getting harsher with my ratings. There are book formula’s I’ve become annoyed with, and tropes and stereotypes that I’ve become too familiar with in books that immediately garner a low rating for me. I like to think I’ve become more critical of books because I’m a more critical person, but it could also be because i’m growing out of YA. LOL. I really don’t know. I’m pretty confused about my reading tastes these days.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I grew out of some YA’s too. I agree though, we have read soooooo many books that’s it’s hard not to become more critical.

  9. Melliane

    Usually for me 3 stars is ok, not really good but just good. But well I like review with ratings as it’s easier to understand the feeling of the person. Sometimes we can feel that the person hated more a book than what it really is or else.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I still like ratings but 3 stars means different things to different people which sucks.

  10. Caro @ The Book Rogue

    I find that with all the books I have taken in since I started blogging, I’m a lot harder to please now, waiting for that special wooow to make it an off-the-charts 5 stars. Even when re-reading a few things now, then reading my old review, I find that I would totally reduce my old rating a whole star. Not often, and I still give 5 star ratings, but stopping myself short on 4.5 happens just as often.
    Regardless, I don’t consider 3 stars a bad rating. It’s totally okay, and you shouldn’t doubt your instincts.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I feel like 4.5 stars is my new 5 stars, it’s crazy how we change the more we read.

  11. Brandi Breathes Books

    I used to give out 5 stars more often.
    I have thought about going to a 10 star/point, but I think that giving a book a 5/10 seems harsher than a 3.5/5… like that makes any sense

  12. Benish

    I get into a rating slump once in a while, I don’t give out 5 stars easily but more of 3.5 and 4 stars.

  13. tonyalee

    I’m not sure if what has happened with me is a slump per se, but I do feel that I am a little bit harder on books when it comes to ratings, especially with the amount that I read. Even a book I loved to pieces is a 4-4.5 star. Great discussion!

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Exactly!!! How can a book I loved be 4 stars? It’s crazy but it happens.

  14. chucklesthescot

    My ratings are simple…if I finish a book I give it three if it was a decent read that I probably wouldn’t read again, 4 if I really enjoyed it and want to read it again and 5 if I just loved it. For those I DNF, it has to be 1 or 2 star. I give 2 stars if the book was well enough written and I didn’t like it due to things like bad MCs, slow, info dumps, love triangles etc. 1 star I save for books I just hated for whatever reason. I don’t regard my ratings as harsh-I’m just honest about what I don’t like but I always explain WHY I don’t like it as feedback for other readers and authors. I’ve had friends buy books based on my 1 star rating because the things I hate in a book are things they like in a book!

  15. anna (herding cats & burning soup)

    I’ve always been really harsh in my 5 star ratings. I’ve only given 1 this year out of 80 books? Which is a little less than usual. I’d say by now I have 3 five star ratings by this time of year. I’ve had a rough go of books lately (in a total it’s THEM not ME way) so my ratings in May-June were low overall with way more 1 star reviews than I typically give in a year. I’ve just had a bad run for a spell.

    I do think we get harsher as we go just because we’re seeing so many more books and KNOW what an amazing 5 star read can look like so others have a lot to live up to after a while. Hope your rating feelings get settled. It’s hard when that feeling strikes.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Yup, I am at one 5 star rating for this year as well. It’s crazy. But I can’t against how I feel.

  16. Jaclyn Canada

    Maybe the book would’ve been five stars if you hadn’t already read so many books so similar? I’m not sure. I skip around so much. The ones I have a hard time with are series that I love, but rating the individual books inside the series and still somehow showing the general love I have for it overall.

  17. Melissa (My words and pages)

    Sometimes I notice I start getting rougher on books when I’ve been reading a lot of the same genre or close to the same idea type books. I’m always mixing it up, so shack the hat again and start over. lol.

    Hope you get through. 🙂

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