Something to Talk About










This a Sunday feature here where we discuss specific topics related to books and the blogosphere.

Let’s talk star ratings!

To rate or not to rate…that’s the question. For those of us that review books, an ultimate opinion is expected. That may come in many forms but it’s a staple of any review. However, I’m finding the use of a rating measurement isn’t always part of a review.



I’m on Goodreads and use the five star rating system. It would be nice if half stars were part of their structure but it doesn’t look likely that we’ll ever see that change. Those who use the rating system have their own personal guidelines they apply consistently so you’d have to become familiar with their review styles or refer to their profiles to understand their criteria for assigning a rating. I actually have a few friends who write reviews but won’t rate the books. And that’s where I’d like to focus.


Some bloggers will assign a star rating (I do) and others don’t. I’d never thought about it until I noticed their absence. If you read the reviews, most of the time you’ll get a very good sense of the bloggers opinion of the book. The absence of a star rating shouldn’t really matter but if you’ve come to rely on or expect them, you look for that number.




I’d never even thought about it until they weren’t there. Rating a book was so ingrained in my thinking it became second nature. I still think I need to continue including a rating because it’s part of my overall assessment. I make big distinctions between a 4 and 5 star book and anything under 3 stars is a book I didn’t enjoy on any level. A 1 star rating means I didn’t finish the book (I don’t really DNF a book so there’s only one with that rating on my shelf). So, I think if I stopped using the star rating my reviews would tell you enough. Just something I’ll have to think about.


  • I’d love to know your thoughts and points of view on using star ratings, or not.
  • I’d also like to know if you include books on your blog that didn’t really work for you and if that factors in your decision to not use a rating.
  • I’d also love feedback from readers’ points of view.

29 thoughts on “Something to Talk About”

  1. The stars are so hard for me! Sometimes I really like a book, but it doesn’t stick with me. But, sometimes I read a book that I think doesn’t impact me and weeks later I’m still thinking about it. I’m so non-committal, I really struggle with the star ratings. Often, I find myself changing them! With reviews on the blog, I don’t use stars for that exact reason!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sarah!

      There are those books that I know when I read the last word that it’s going to be a 5-star read. And then there are those where I enjoyed reading it but have mixed feelings. They’re the hardest to rate. I’ve sometimes waited a day to figure out the rating and other times where I’ve gone back and changed it. That can wreak havoc with a blog post. I certainly understand your rationale.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always rate books I read, though it’s kind of different for books I DNF’d. I only rate DNF’d books if I got to finish at least 50% of it, and I always make sure to indicate where I stopped and why I decided to put it down. I think it’s reasonable since I try as much as possible to finish books I started. I even give them several chances, but there are really those books that you just can’t get into. It’s personal, it may not have worked for me but other readers may still love the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rachel!

      Since I only have one book in the DNF category, I don’t have much experience with doing this. Your practice does seem reasonable as you’ve read a substantial portion of the book. I even debated about applying any rating at all. But, in the end, it felt right for the reasons I presented. It happened to be a book that readers either loved or hated and the ratings reflected that. There didn’t seem to be much in between.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great question, Jonetta! I stopped doing star ratings on my blog a couple months back. I only post books I’ve rated four or five stars- because I only share my recommendations on the blog. It felt sort of redundant to see the stars. I post all my reviews on Goodreads, and I still do stars there where they are more expected. I also rarely finish books I’d rate 3.5 or below because I have so many to choose from, and I feel like I’m wasting my time? My overall rating looks higher because of that, but it’s really not if I assigned a rating to all the books I put aside.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jennifer!

      *sigh* I literally cannot put a book aside. Wish I could.

      It’s good to know that the books appearing on your blog are only those with those ratings. Now I know every book is one you’d recommend. I’ve been reluctant to include lower rated books here but have done so anyway. I’m still debating….

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Great topic!

    I use Goodreads too, and post my reviews with ratings there. I recently stopped putting star ratings on my blog posts because a lot of people focus on the rating rather than the review. I rate a lot of books 3 stars, because that means average to me, but some people think of 3 stars as bad. Really, most of what I read, I rate 3 or 4 stars. Like you, 2 means I didn’t enjoy it and 1 is for DNFs.

    I rate and review everything I read on Goodreads, but I don’t post all reviews on my blog. I do sometimes include reviews for books I wasn’t a fan of on my blog. I rely on reviews when I’m looking for new books to read, and I like to read both good and bad reviews, so I think it only fair to include both sides on my personal blog. Admittedly, most of what is on my blog I enjoyed reading and rated 3 or more stars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Darinda!

      Your comments are really helpful. As I mentioned to Jennifer above, I’m still debating about posting reviews for those books that are rated lower. Many of the books I read are rated 4 stars, primarily because I’m backlogged with so many good books in the queue. But, there are the occasional ones that I found lacking.

      That’s interesting about readers looking at the star rating without reading the review. Something to think about here as opposed to Goodreads.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Recently I stopped using stars on the blog, for the very reasons stated above I think people fixate on that star rating and it’s really not an accurate way to measure the book…

    I hardly ever put a book aside, and I like almost everything I read, I’m lucky and I think I have a wide range of taste so that kind of helps!

    I don’t post books on my blog that I wouldn’t recommend, simply because I have so many books to review I don’t have the space or time…
    Good question, and I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer it’s a personal decision 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Berit!

      Definitely a personal decision. It’s been great getting all this feedback as I’d never thought about it until I noticed so many posts without a rating. There are certainly compelling reasons to omit the ratings along with good ones for keeping them.

      You definitely read a lot of books in a short amount of time! I’m in awe of your reading prowess ☺️ And, we eclectic readers do tend to like a lot of everything in books.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love that you wrote about this, Jonetta! It is a big difference in terms of bloggers. I personally don’t do star-ratings on my blog. I want my blog to be a place I recommend books, without caveat. The reason I don’t use stars has two main drivers: 1. There just isn’t enough variance in a five-star scale for this psychometrician! 2. I hate using the same scale for books from widely different genres/appeals. How do I use one tiny scale for both a twisty heart-pounding thriller, a sweet rom com, and a literary fiction award-winning book?? But I do like to see them used by others! I think it’s a personal preference for bloggers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mackenzie!

      I’m so glad you raised the issue regarding rating disparities between genres. It’s a big deal for me. While the 5-point rating structure doesn’t pose a problem for me (I’ve just gotten used to it), assigning ratings based on different criteria for each genre does give me pause. And, I must admit, I haven’t yet resolved the issue in my own mind. You’ve provided me with the strongest argument for eliminating ratings here on my blog. This is extremely helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great topic! I don’t think I use stars on the blog, but maybe I do sometimes. I’m not consistent because star ratings don’t matter to me.
    Generally I use them on Goodreads because I’m almost always reviewing a book from Netgalley or Edelweiss where they ask for the stars. However, I don’t pay attention to the stars that reviewers give a book for a few reasons. First, too many reviewers give books too many stars. I often see a four star rating and then read the accompanying review and, in essence, the reviewer really didn’t care for the book. So why did they rate the book so highly? Hmmm… Second, there is too wide a variance between reviewers. If I thought a book was an okay read then I will give it 3 stars. If the author didn’t accomplish their goals or if it was not a very good book at all, I’ll give it a 1 or 2. I don’t rate the books that I didn’t finish because I didn’t finish them – and there are books that I don’t waste time finishing. But – too often I will read comments on 3 star ratings that say things like, “oh, I’m sorry it was such a bad book.” Well, it wasn’t a bad book. It was in the middle of the road. A bad book would have received a 2 or a 1. So, see? Everyone looks at the star ratings from a different perspective. It’s better to read the review – if there even is one accompanying the star rating.
    As for not rating non-fiction, I’m not sure I understand the reasoning. You are rating that book. Did the book meet its goals? Was the writing of good quality? Did the facts substantiate the premise? Did they entertain you? It’s the same as it is for fiction and NF writers are not any different than Fiction authors.
    Good post with a lot to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mackey!

      I really appreciate your elaboration about the variances in ratings depending on who’s giving the rating. Most of the time, I’m only reading reviews written by friends (Goodreads) and am familiar with how they rate (some consistent with my system, others higher or lower than mine). But the point is, the reader has to make those adjustments and does that then somewhat invalidate the rating system? I don’t think entirely but it’s less reliable.

      About non fiction, I inferred that rating these books based on the subject might be problematic given it is factual. But it doesn’t eliminate being able to evaluate how well the story is told. Great point of clarification.

      Wonderful feedback!


  8. Great topic Jonetta!

    I also don’t put star rating on our blog. I like to make recommendations on our blog and like for readers to get enough information from our reviews to decide if the book would be a good fit for them. My sister in law reads our blog and has very limited reading time or access to books like we do so she tells me what she would like to see in my reviews as a reader. The right fit is very important to her. Star rating doesn’t work for her because some of the books we enjoy she wouldn’t. She can’t read anything dark.

    We don’t post reviews for books we don’t enjoy. Even though our reviews are not always glowing I do try to stick with different and balanced thoughts from our groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Brenda!

      Your reviews are so well done, especially as you often provide multiple perspectives. Each always is clear as to what worked, what might have fallen short. In fact, I never realized your posts don’t include star ratings!

      I appreciate you providing reader feedback via your sister-in-law’s comments. It’s helpful.


  9. Thank you to everyone who responded to this post. Your feedback really made a difference as my thinking has shifted about ratings on my blog. I’m going to eliminate the star ratings for the time being and see if that’s a good fit for me. That’s an outcome I never saw coming but many of you presented some compelling rationales.

    I really, really appreciate your candor and willingness to share your insights.


  10. It drives me so crazy that goodreads doesn’t let you use half star ratings. But even using them in my mind (lol) it’s still not the best way to express something about it. I use them kind of arbitrarily in my reviews and leave them out if it’s something I feel is more complex. But because everyone’s rating system seems to be so personal, I completely ignore individual reviewers’ star ratings on Goodreads and the like. I feel like star ratings are helpful as an aggregate but not so much individually, if that makes sense. Good topic to consider!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      I’m so with you on those half stars! I put them in the body of the review but I’m not sure they’re seen. Those aggregate stars are more important to me on Amazon but on Goodreads, I really do rely on friends’ reviews. GR, by policy, allows members to assign star ratings if they haven’t read the book and I’ve seen too many abuses of that (5 stars for excitement about an upcoming release, 1 star for an author someone is angry with, etc.). It just depends and as you state, can be so personal in assignment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so right about Goodreads, I notice that every time I read a political book and it makes me so angry! What is the point of that! Even before it’s released people go out of their way to give 1 star ratings because they disagree with the politics of it. UGHHH!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post! I personally don’t see why someone wouldn’t rate a book. There are some that I might point out a few issues that I had but still really enjoyed the read. Other times, it might really make me think it was only ok or just liked it. I think seeing a 2, 3, or 4 star rating makes a difference when others are interested in the book as well. I’m not sure how much that makes sense, lol! I also agree with you on the 1/2 stars. I wish that was an option!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, DG!

      You make great points and now that I’m trying this for the moment, the onus is on me to write reviews so that you’re very clear about my overall opinion of the book. I’ve always concluded my reviews with a bottom line comment and now will be particularly focused on that section.

      Stay tuned😏

      Liked by 1 person

Comment anyone?

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s