Why I Have Yet to Rate a Book One Star


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.

11 thoughts on “Why I Have Yet to Rate a Book One Star

  1. I think the way that you do it makes sense. Everybody kinds of looks at the 5-star rating system in their own personal way. For me, books get one star if I DNF them. I think I only have one book on Goodreads that I actually finished and still chose to rate it one star. I might give a book 1.5 stars if I DNF-ed it, but it was more of an “it’s me, not you” type of situation.

    I’ve only ever given one book a “no star” rating, and that was because I was just so baffled as to what my opinion of it was that I couldn’t justify giving it any sort of rating. So it wasn’t even necessarily that it was “bad,” it was just that I had very strong feelings about not being able to give it a proper star rating and I felt like no stars was the only other option. But I don’t think that no stars should be used as a “not even good enough for 1 star” way to rate a book… I’m not even sure if I’ve ever seen somebody do that. 1 star is definitely the lowest star rating possible, in my opinion. Great post!

    1. Initially, I would rate DNFs as 2 stars because I mostly stopped reading them because I was bored, not because I was offended or anything, but now I try not to rate them at all, and I pretty much always say “but it was me, not the book’s fault!” everytime I DNF, even if I feel like it was kind of the book’s fault too – I guess I’m kind of worried that I’ll offend the fans or something, especially since I haven’t read the whole book.

      I’ve seen 0 stars before, but that rating seems to be reserved for awful books that have awful circumstances surrounding them – Debby from Snuggly Oranges gave Adela Arthur and the Creator’s Clock 0 stars, but if you read her review and see all the crap she had to put up with while reading it, I think it’s very understandable. But, overall, it’s just another personal thing – you have to go with what your gut tells you, and so far my gut hasn’t told me that any books I’ve read deserve a single star!

  2. I always feel horrible if I give a book that I’ve requested or received from the author/publisher/Netgalley a low rating, but if I’m not honest then what’s the point in reviewing it?

    Actually, I interviewed an author in my early days of blogging, and also read and reviewed their book. I kind of rated it higher than I should have, because I didn’t want to have a negative review after the interview… :/

    It’s crazy how much drama can follow 1-star reviews and DNFs. I can see why you’re wary of rating a book 1 star! I actually read that Eden book, because of the controversy, and it was horrific. I would’ve given it 0 stars but GR doesn’t let you. I didn’t even review it properly, just added a load of reaction GIFs.

    1. That’s one of the many reasons that I don’t want to try getting ARCs – even though I shouldn’t, I know I would feel some obligation to rate higher.

      Drama is definitely a reason I’m wary, so I applaud you for reading a difficult book and attempting to review it however works best for you!

  3. I use 1 star for my DNFs. I have a few rated that I rated 1 star before I decided to do that. I want to go back and revise them, but I haven’t yet. I don’t like leaving books unrated, even DNFs. My Goodreads shelves are a mess and for my own information, I want the 0 star books to be the ones I haven’t read. I will eventually get all caught up and organized.

    1. I totally understand that – ratings should ultimately be for ourselves, to organize things to help us and then to help other readers. I don’t like rating DNFs anymore because they’re complicated for me, but the great thing is that you can have a completely different method for rating DNFs and it’s just as valid – the wonder of the book blogging community!

  4. Ratings can be so difficult, but I love how everyone has their own system. I’ve seen someone who gives 3 stars to books they didn’t like, while 3 stars for me means that I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t fantastic. I have a couple of 1 stars and it went to books I did finish, but I skipped parts of it šŸ™‚

    1. Yeah, for me, 3 stars means that it’s a decent book but probably not something I would reread, but other people do think that 3 stars is a bad thing – it’s all so subjective, which can be a bit stressful, but is pretty much always a good thing in my mind!

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