Why I Will Never Rate Books


I think that rating books out of five stars or on a scale of one to ten is a lazy way to review a book. Very often the people who rate books on a number or star scale do not take the time to list what those stars represent, so it’s a total mystery to anyone reading the review just what exactly they are rating when it comes to the book. Plot? Characters? Voice? Length? It’s anyone’s guess. What do the stars represent? What are the numbers on the scale rating exactly? There’s too much in each individual book to narrow it down to a few stars or numbers that are wholly subjective and are more often than not based on personal taste.

As a reader, I can’t think of anything less helpful when it comes to a book review than to be given stars or numbers. If someone writes a review and gives a book a “low” score, I tend to feel more sorry for them than the book. They clearly made themselves finish something they didn’t enjoy or even remotely like. How terrible to torture yourself like that!

I have read book reviews in which the writer of the review has heavily criticized the book as being, for example, silly chick-lit that was not educationally stimulating, saying that it was predictable and unrealistic among other things, and as such gave it a bad review or, for example, 4/10 as so many readers are wont to do online. I find myself wondering: if you are looking for something educational and unpredictable, I think it’s obvious that you picked the wrong book.

Based on that one example alone, the rating process so many readers overuse is just about the worst way you could possibly dwindle down a review. If your expectations were not met, say that. If there were plot holes, characters you didn’t care for, say that. If you did predict the ending and you didn’t like that, say that. But don’t just slap a 2-stars-out-of-5 onto a review and say nothing else.

I know we all approach reading differently, some more seriously than others. But that carelessness with which some tend to toss around their discussions just makes me shake my head. If you really hated the book, why finish it? *sigh*

That’s why you’ll never see stars or numbers on my books reviews. I tend to gravitate towards, and recreate, thorough reviews with criticisms backed up by concrete examples (that’s the academic in me). Otherwise, how can I expect the reader to know what I’m talking about?ย It’s unfair to the books and the writers, and it encapsulates a lazy review in my opinion.

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