How Do I Rate the Books I Read?: A Look at My Rating System and What I Look for in a Book!!

I’m a really indecisive, not confident person.

And this means I struggle a lot with deciding ratings for books! Like a lot!! And so, in an effort to maybe help me decide on ratings more easily (and also to motivate me to READ), I’ve decided to tackle something I’ve been meaning to talk about for along time now: how I rate the books I read!!

I know there are a lot of people who don’t like to rate books, and that’s completely fine and understandable! I personally like ratings because I feel like it’s a way to quickly look back at my stance on the book, even though each rating will depend on the book of course!!

Like I said, I’ve wanted to write this for a long time now; I had it planned before I saw Marie @ Drizzle Hurricane Books talk about the same thing on her blog in November, and then I got inspired to do the same as she did with the cute little rating influence percentages. So make sure to check out Marie’s wonderful post as well!!

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WHAT I LOOK AT OVERALL

berry 2 ENJOYMENT berry 1

rating influence: 100%

The Foxhole Court (All for the Game, #1)This is absolutely the number 1 thing that decides my ratings! For me, my enjoyment of a book > the technical aspects of a book. If I look back on a book and feel like I enjoyed it a solid amount, it’ll probably get a high rating from me!! I’m really not super critical about technical aspects until those aspects start to affect my enjoyment. It could be really terrible quality, but I’d still rate it highly if I enjoyed it a lot.

There’s no better example than The Foxhole Court, because as much as that series brings me joy, it just… sucks. Like, you can tell me it’s trash and poorly written and frankly problematic, and I would agree with you!! But it was so entertaining for me to read and I adored the characters, so that completely turned the rating around.

berry 2 CHARACTERS berry 1

rating influence: 100%

Characters are absolutely the thing that make or break a book for me. If I hate your characters, or I can’t connect with them, there’s a very low chance of me liking the book. Why would (and how could) I care about a story if I don’t care about the people that it’s happening to? And vice versa: if the story is poor, or maybe the writing is bad, the book can still be saved by its characters. 

berry 2 PLOT berry 1

rating influence: 60%

If I somehow didn’t make it clear already: I can handle a pretty terrible (or even nonexistent) plot, if I love the characters enough. Most of my concerns in books that have to do with plot are character-related (ex: lack of character motivation). But the thing that makes me pick up a book in the first place is an interesting premise/plot, so it still has to be intriguing to me!!

berry 2 FEELINGS/EMOTIONS berry 1

rating influence: 30%

The Song of AchillesBooks that can make feel things and get emotional are instantly set apart from other books. They’re good enough to actually move me, and it’s an incredible feat to somehow make someone Emotional with your words!! One book that comes to mind for this is The Song of Achilles. I originally rated it 4 stars, because while I adored it, the beginning was just Boring to me. But I kept thinking and getting emotional about it, and that made me go back and give it 5 stars.

berry 2 WRITING STYLE/VOICE berry 1

rating influence: 15%

For me, this mainly applies to two types of styles/voices: the really gorgeous writing styles, and the dense ones (sometimes they’re both the same thing for me). Gorgeous writing styles only make me appreciate a book more, while dense writing makes me enjoy the book less because it’s a struggle to get through it. This doesn’t usually affect much in my rating, though! Maybe just something I’ll talk briefly about in a review.

berry 2 THEMES berry 1

rating influence: 15%

I really love thematic ideas/concepts or messages in books!! I think they are so so powerful, and I especially love ones that are subtle or artfully woven into the story; they can just add a whole other layer to a book. A lack of themes might not lower my rating, but having them just makes me love a book all the more!

berry 2PACINGberry 1

rating influence: 10%

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Usually pacing doesn’t really affect my reading and rating that much?? I can handle slower or faster pacing, though I might get slightly annoyed. Honestly, pacing only becomes a big issue for me when the author fails at making me care about the characters enough that I can overlook it. For example, Six of Crows definitely has a slow beginning, but I love the characters so much and care about them enough that it doesn’t bother me! (Also I’m biased because that’s one of my favorite books.)

berry 2 PERSONAL MEANING berry 1

rating influence: depends

Personal meaning can influence my rating a lot, actually! Books that have representation of marginalized identities that made me feel seen or I deeply related to while instantly have a more special and memorable place in my heart. But if a book doesn’t mean a lot to me personally, that’s not going to make me lower my rating!!

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STAR RATINGS

berry 2 5 STARS berry 1

I’ve noticed that I actually… rarely give out 5 STARS now? I used to give out 5-star ratings out a lot more freely, but now I definitely only give them to books that I love enough to call it a favorite, and I know without a doubt it deserves 5 stars from me!! If I have to question whether or not I should rate it 5 stars, it’s not getting 5 stars from me. Wow I love being mean.

And a lot of people talk about 5-star books having a sort of Spark, and that’s absolutely the deal for me too. There have been a lot of amazing books that ticked off all the boxes of a great book for me, but didn’t have that little special something that set it apart from other books!

berry 2 4.5 & 4 STARS berry 1

I know half-stars don’t work well for some people, but I’ve read a lot of books that were better than a 4-star read, but didn’t quite deserve 5 stars because of something. 4.5 STARS is the perfect rating for me to give a book when I loved it more than a 4-star book, but I still wondered whether or not I should give it 5 stars. It’s also perfect for books that I really adored, but didn’t have that special 5-star spark!

4 STARS has become my sort of default “I enjoyed this book” rating. A minor thing or two might not have been perfect for me, but it wasn’t enough to hinder my enjoyment and bump it down a half star. Usually, it’s books that I feel like were solid and I had a good time with!

berry 2 3.5 & 3 STARS berry 1

We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire, #1)These Witches Don't Burn3.5 STARS are usually reserved for books that I mostly enjoyed, but a small-but-big thing was lacking. Two really good examples of this would be We Set the Dark on Fire and These Witches Burn.

My enjoyment of those two books were 4-star level, but there was something off about them—but I don’t think they deserve 3 stars because I still enjoyed them. (I feel like I would describe this as “I’m enjoying the book but something’s nagging me about it in the back of my mind.”)

And now comes my most dreaded star rating: 3 STARS. I HATE giving books 3 stars, because it’s so meh and in-the-middle, and if I give a book that, it basically means I just didn’t really care about it. Usually, I somewhat enjoyed the book, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to and something was lacking.

berry 2 2.5 & 2 STARS berry 1

I don’t really give a lot of books 2.5 STARS, and I’m not really sure why that is?? For me, 2.5 stars is basically “I didn’t like this but there were Some redeeming qualities that made me enjoy it a tiny bit”. (And sometimes I’ll feel bad for giving it 2 stars and bump it up a little bit.)

2 STARS, on the other hand, is my default “I did Not enjoy this book” rating. I might be able to think of one positive, like “The writing was nice… I guess”, but that’s it. I didn’t like the book, I’m straight up not having a good time, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

berry 2 1.5 & 1 STAR berry 1

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)These two ratings are super rare for me! I account it to me being pretty good at picking up books I know I’ll like. Usually if I don’t enjoy a book, I’ll stick to 2 or 2.5 stars, and these ratings are reserved for books I feel more strongly about.

For me, 1.5 STARS isn’t too different from 1 star, but with 1 STAR I just hate the book with my entire being, and 1.5 stars is just slightly less intense feelings. There are also times where I feel bad for rating a book 1 star and will give it a .5 star more—1-star ratings are more definitive, as in I truly despise the book and don’t feel bad about hating it/1-starring it.

(The books I featured are some of my infamously hated 1-star reads!!!)


shall we chat

do you rate the books you read? how do you do it? what things influence your ratings? are characters important to you vs plot? do you give a lot of 1- or 5-star ratings?

p.s. small update on things: transitioning back to school is a lot harder than I expected and I’m struggling a bit with blogging! I keep pushing the Book Blogger Awards results back because of this, but I PROMISE it’ll be up next week <33

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46 thoughts on “How Do I Rate the Books I Read?: A Look at My Rating System and What I Look for in a Book!!

  1. Awesome post, May!!! I 100000% agree with everything you said here, and especially the first bit about enjoyment! I have read some books that well … for lack of a better word, sucked. YET, I adored them to pieces because I just had such a fun time reading it! It’s funny how often my mood can affect my overall opinion of a book! Pacing isn’t too important to me either, but if I’m not particularly enjoying a book, it can make the reading experience so much worse. Haha!

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  2. well I think that’s fair about liking books even if they’re trashy (I think we all have books like that 😉 ) So I definitely like to rate books on enjoyment rather than quality- particularly taking into consideration the *feels* and personal meaning- I also think it’s probably easier for me to quantify how much I liked something as opposed to how good it is 😉 Characters and plot also make a huge difference! Fantastic post! Really like seeing how people break this down!

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  3. Enjoyment is the #1 factor for me as well! I’m totally with you, it can be a trashy read but you still loved it so you want to rate it highly.

    I’m super late to comment whoops but this is an awesome post idea, I might do something similar (if I ever get around to it lmao) if that’s alright, and would definitely tag you!

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  4. Okay, I actually LOVE how you broke down how you rate things. I take emotions and enjoyment into account the most, but I’ve never really recognized that until this very moment! I also love character focused books, so plot is pretty much meaningless to me as long as you give me some great characters in an awesome setting in exchange.

    And I rate my books super similarly! 5 stars is more of a gut reaction than anything, while 1 stars are extremely rare because it means I can’t really find a redeemable quality and would not recommend this book to anyone. The one thing I’ve found is that enjoyment sometimes fades, and I sometimes look back and question why I gave a certain book a particular rating. Usually I overestimate how much a book impacted me, but I only actually change my rating on Goodreads half the time.

    Great post! It was so interesting to see how I rating systems and breakdowns compared!

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  5. I always appreciate these types of discussions! Our rating systems are pretty similar, as I tend to put a lot of emphasis on characters as well. Other than that, I think pacing and writing are actually pretty important to me – they don’t usually make me hate a book, but they’re often the reason I love it. Thanks for the post!

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