Discussion: Why I Sometimes Write 4 Star Reviews With Little to No Negativity


Most bloggers use the standard 5 star rating system – even if they don’t like giving ratings on their blogs, they probably utilize them when rating the same books on Goodreads. So, it’s safe to say that everyone knows what each star generally means – you know, 5 stars are amazing, 0/1 stars are the kinds of books that you want to – or actually do – throw across the room at least once. It’s the middle ratings that can get harder to predict – one person might give a “meh” kind of book 3 stars simply because it’s in the middle of the five numbers (which I tend to do), while others will give it 2 or 4 stars depending on various criteria.

I’m not going to discuss the various interpretations that people have of the five star rating system because each person should decide that for themselves – instead, I’m talking about a specific rating: the 4 star book whose review mentions nothing negative at all.

I got the idea for this post when I read this post from Ashley at Nose Graze, talking about how confused she was when people gave a book 3 or 4 stars but never mentioned anything negative in their review. I hate to admit it, but I’m probably guilty of this at least a few times over the years.

I blog for myself, but my reviews are generally written for other people. It’s nice to go back and skim reviews to check out what I thought of a book right after reading it, but reviews are typically meant to help other people who want to know more about a book. So, it would make sense that I would write these reviews for other people is that’s who’s going to be reading them, right? But I don’t think I always quite do that.

You see, when I write 4 star reviews, I make assumptions – I write positive reviews for 4 star books with the assumption that the 4 stars means that the book didn’t have that “wow” factor, that thing that makes me love the book so much that it gets 4.5 or 5 stars. Sometimes I actually say this, but a lot of the time I have a feeling that I don’t because I figure that people already know this.

But of course, I have no way of knowing that. I need to remember that I write my reviews for other people and that no one else is in my head and knows exactly what I’m thinking unless I actually say so.

I know that my readers are going to be smart – after all, they’re book lovers, how could they not be? – but it’s not fair of me to assume that everyone is going to know exactly what I’m going for without saying anything. So, in the future, I will do my best to say what I mean.

Of course, this is part of the reason why I made new graphics for my word ratings at the end of the reviews and added short little explanations. Even if you only glance at my review, you can see the short explanation and get a quick idea of why I choose the specific word or phrase. Sometimes my star ratings and word ratings are different, and these short explanations will hopefully help people understand my reviews better.

See, I do all of this for you, my lovely readers! 😀 And my apologies when I’m just too lazy to explain myself – that’s on me.


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