Saturday, November 23, 2019

Discussion: I'm Going to Stop Rating Books on GR

I've been on Goodreads for a solid decade now, and I have added pretty much every single book I've read during that time, and a great number of books I read before then. When I first joined, I saw it entirely as something to organize and remember what I've read and what I want to read. I didn't use it as a social connector, and while I enjoyed reading reviews of books I'd just read, I didn't take star averages very seriously, and didn't expect others to be looking at mine. I was recording personal responses for my own reflection, not writing objective analyses--that's what professional reviews were for.

And maybe that was fine back in 2009, but as I've seen more and more about authors getting upset with 3 star reviews, and people dismissing the possibility of reading books with a less than 4 star average, I've become uncomfortable with putting ratings on a public forum. Then there is the pushback against reviews that start, "I don't usually like [x genre or format] but..." or "I guess the target audience would like it, but I didn't," both of which are comments I have certainly made. Because again, I am writing these FOR MYSELF. If a romance knocks my socks off, that's unusual FOR ME, which does not mean there's anything wrong with other people adoring romance novels. If a middle grade novel's ending is too pat FOR ME, it doesn't mean I think the author wrote the book wrong.

I started blogging in 2015, and around then is when I started tracking my reading on my own Google forms/spreadsheets. At first it was just a matter of adding more categories than I could track on Goodreads, like if I was reading OwnVoices books and where I was finding my books. Lately, however, I've realized I'm actually entering different ratings on my own sheet than I do on GR--rounding down for my private records, and rounding up for the public site. Since that's pretty ridiculous, I've realized that there's no need for me to track star ratings on Goodreads at all.

I thought about rephrasing how I rate books, like Nicole did on Feed Your Fiction Addiction. A 3 star book for me is one I enjoyed as I read, but don't expect to remember. 4 stars is one that impressed me in some way, and 5 stars means I loved it whole-heartedly. In my mind, writing and publishing a decent book instead of a book I love is like being an NBA player nobody's really heard of--you are still goddamn amazing compared to most of us. I'd be happy in a world in which all books were in that 3-5 star range, but I can see why an author might feel insulted by a 3 star rating. But again, I'm not rating books because I'm trying to influence sales or even opinions. I just want to track my own reading life.

I'll still use Goodreads--I have found so many books by seeing what pops up when I'm logging books, I enjoy the visual aspect of the site, and I like seeing what my friends are reading. I've never been big on reviewing in any format, blog or Goodreads, so there's no big change there. But as of now, I'm done rating books on Goodreads.

Have you changed anything about how you rate books or how you use Goodreads? Is there a role for blogs that are about books but not about reviews? Tell me your thoughts!


  1. I’ve never put ratings on my blog, and I’ve seriously thought about giving them up on Goodreads, but I haven’t done it yet because sorting my books by star rating is so helpful! If I’m writing a Top Ten Tuesday post and need to remember which books I loved, I can make all my 5-star books pop to the top of Goodreads. Reviewing has always been a challenge. I started off writing reviews for myself. I never thought people would read them. I never thought I’d become a book pusher. I still don’t know how to balance the “for me” and “for others” aspects of reviewing. I just trying my best!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. Interesting thoughts to ponder. I do agree with AJ that star ratings do help me find books that I'm looking for to recommend. I also like seeing the star ratings of my friends that I follow closely as well as letting them know what I thought about certain books (this is helpful for people that have similar reading preferences to and can find books that way). I can see why you might give them up, but I'm not sure that I'm ready for it yet :)

  3. I struggle when reading reviews without stars. I need both a review and stars to get a good feel for how the book was received by that reader. I do agree with you, that getting published is an accomplishment, and any book I finish earns 3-stars, which means I enjoyed it. I DNF books I am not enjoying. Point. Blank, Period. The. End.

  4. I think 100% you need to do what makes you feel most comfortable and happy! I have such mixed feelings about this personally, because on one hand I wholly agree with you that every published book is absolutely an accomplishment! But then... I also feel a compulsion to rate stuff? Like- I feel like it helps me write a review, and I don't even know if I could do a review without a rating. And like- I don't think the number is the be-all-end-all, but it's almost like...a helpful guideline for me? That all said, I totally understand why people don't want to- especially these days, like you said!

  5. I debated star ratings for a really long time because they just dont mean much to me at all beyond giving me an impression of what a reader thought at a quick glance. (And 3 stars to me means they liked it well enough but it didn't leave a lasting impression for good or evil.)

    I'll read a book that the majority rate 5 stars and hate it. I'll read a book the majority give 2 stars and love it. I care more about what people have to say as a guide than the rating... As long as people say why they loved/hated something then I can unpick whether I think it's for me, you know?

    And don't get me started on people rating books before they're even released on GR! What's that about?!

    Anyway, you do you. If not rating makes you happy then go for it. :)

  6. Well, you obviously know that I've changed the WAY I rate, but I couldn't quite give up on rating altogether. I only rate books at 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads, though (only rounding up to 4 if it feels warranted). And then I keep my own spreadsheet with the complete ratings (including half stars).

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


Please share your thoughts. Comments are almost as sweet as chocolate!