Ratings can be a touchy topic in the book blogging community. Some people refuse to give books low ratings because they say that it’s like bullying authors; some bloggers are really, really picky when it comes to giving books 5 stars (which is what I’m more like).
I definitely agree with the bloggers who get frustrated with people who refuse to give low ratings even if a book really does seem to deserve lower ratings, but I’m sure that some people might think I’m like them if they look at my ratings on Goodreads: I have yet to rate a book less than 2 stars.
Yes, I’ve never given a book the dreaded one star, or the even more dreaded no stars. But it’s not because I’m afraid of hurting an author’s feelings.
I don’t remember when I first decided what each star stood for, but over the years that I’ve been blogging, I have a basic idea. 5 stars go to the books that completely blow my mind, that are either extremely perfect or so amazing in my mind that I don’t even notice any flaws. 4.5 stars are books that are almost perfect, but I have to admit that they’re not quite perfect. 4 stars are the perfectly enjoyable books that have some problems, but minor and not too distracting when it comes to enjoying the book. 3.5 stars are enjoyable, but their problems are a bit more distracting and I’m not totally sure if I want to reread them or not. 3 stars are just “meh” – they’re fine, but mostly to just pass the time and nothing more. 2.5 stars are “meh” books as well, but they have problems that are not only distracting, but can make me mad when I think about them. 2 stars are the lowest rating I’ve given, with books that have frustrating and maddening issues and aren’t even “meh” in my book.
These are very basic guidelines for my personal ratings, but I know them well enough that it’s normally not too difficult to decide what rating to give a book once I’m done. 1 and 0 star ratings confuse me, though. Whenever I’ve read a book I really didn’t like, 1 star or lower still seems too low to give it. 1 star ratings seem frightening to me – it seems like a much tougher rating to stand behind. If I’m going to give a one star rating, then I feel like it should be a book that not only has horrible issues, but offends me as well. There are some books I’ve heard of that I think I would give 1 stars to – books like Finding Eden (reverse-racism that’s really still just plain old racism) and Beautiful Disaster (glorifying abusive relationships) – but I’ve always read many different reviews so that I could avoid putting myself through that. And, if I do read a book that seems like it could be heading that way, I try to DNF them as quickly as possible. I don’t want to put myself through something that would offend me and make me literally throw the book across the room in anger. There are some books that seem like they could head that way, but they’ve always been 2 star ratings for me.
This is a thought that’s often on my mind when I see other bloggers complaining or just talking about bloggers and readers who refuse to give low ratings for shallow reasons. I often get worried that I’ll be grouped into this category of bloggers as well. I try my best to rate on a combination of objectivity and emotions, not because I don’t want to offend an author (although I’m not saying that you should insult an author if you don’t like their book – if you’re going to have a negative review, focus on the book rather than attacking the author).
Looking at this post, I can’t tell if it’s too ramble-y or if it makes sense, but this is a subject that often leaves me confused as well, so I suppose it’s only fitting. Is this a problem for anyone else? Do really, really low ratings kind of scare you as well, or do you think it’s really easy to slap those low ratings on books that really, really make you mad? I love reading low-rated reviews because they’re often the most informative, and that’s what I try to do with my own lower ratings, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still kind of scared of giving even lower ratings.