Wednesday, April 27, 2016

All I am saying ... is give threes a chance



This is a little ditty about the Goodreads star rating system sung to the tune of Give Peace a Chance. Sing along with me now.

Jana and I have discussed the Goodreads rating system a few times on The Armchair Librarians podcast, Kristen did a post on how she rates books on goodreads, and I may have mentioned here or there that I dislike star rating systems but haven't really talked about how I rate books using a star system.

The simple answer is it varies.

The complicated answer is it varies.

It depends on my state of mind when I close that book for the last time. Anyone who is an avid reader knows a book that is like a punch to the gut in a good way might not pack the same punch if it's re-read again 10 years down the line. You're a different person then. You interact with that same book differently. So much of what we like or dislike about novels is ourselves reflected back at us.
It also depends on the day. In times of contentment, I will typically love a book that makes me yearn for something. If I was giving it a star rating, I'd close that book and give it a four or five. In times of discontent, a part of me will probably hate that same book because I have enough of that going on in reality, but I recognize that it's well done and might give it a three star rating.

I would venture to guess that I rate most books a three on goodreads. It never occurred to me until I was talking to a friend at work that three was a meh rating to most people. She told me she'd not even consider adding a book to her to read list that carried a less than an average four star rating. That blew me away. I was like but you're missing a lot of solid three reads! The three star rating is my workhorse. It didn't blow me away but I still enjoyed the read.

I read whatever I want to read, regardless of what others thought of it. It's always nice to hear people liked it, but even if people didn't, I still might. And if I start it and it sucks, I can just stop. 

At the end of the day, I think you should give a book a chance because you like the title, cover, or description; because a friend liked it; because a friend didn't like it; because you've never heard of it or because it's everywhere; because you want to see if the average five star rating is right or because you want to see if the average two star rating is right; or just because anything about it is whispering read me to you. Know that there are many people out there like me who give arbitrary ratings. Know that everyone could hate a book and you can love it or vice versa and that it's fine. Chart your own reading path!

And give threes a chance.


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31 comments:

  1. I finished a book last night, rated it a three, and found it to be an enjoyable little book. I started its follow-up book immediately. So, I agree with you that a 3 star rating from me is not saying that doesn't deserve notice. Look, you're talking to the gal that will sometimes amend the rating in the review with a "4.25" score or something ridiculous like that.

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  2. The one thing I never do on Amazon when I get books is read the reviews ....because like you said the way we read and feel about books is so different, it's hard to have the same outlook as everyone else! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  3. I suck at honestly rating, I think. I rarely give less than a 5. Time to reevaluate my methods and logic.

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  4. i've read some 3-star books and loved them! there are some books that were cute and entertaining; not quite 4-star worthy but a solid 3. Those Shopaholic books are a good example of cute, fun entertaining 3-star reads.

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  5. This is so true. I think 3 and up on Goodreads are books that I would recommend to someone else, depending on their taste. 4s and 5s are books that spoke to me personally or that I would re-read or talk about extensively with others. There is nothing wrong with 3-rated books though!! I also think it's important to keep in mind (with Goodreads ratings) that different books appeal to different people. Something that causes someone to rate a book a 2 or a 3 might be something that I personally love about the book. Really interesting to think about all this lately with this post & Kristen's and the podcast chat.

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  6. I definitely agree with your outlook on books! While I value others opinion there have been numerous times people don't like a book that I absolutely adore and vice-versa. If it's not good, there's no shame in putting it down and not reading it.

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  7. Three is a C. I love your written reviews so that makes it easy for me. I used to love fiction crime stories but now real life is all crime all the time. Very hideous many times.
    Love. Your. Momma.

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  8. I really like this. I always think I need to read the best, but you're right, different books affect people differently!

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  9. I have a lot of three's too and not because they were meh books, they were enjoyable reads but something about them didn't get them to 4 or 5 star status. A book has to really work hard to get a 4 or 5 from me.

    I gave my local friend a book I 1 starred because I thought it was more suited to her reading tastes. Not only did she like it she recommended it to some of her other reading friends. Not everyone reads the same story even though we read the same book.

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  10. I loved your thoughts on this on your podcast.
    But I'm the same way - so much depends on my rating - my day, my mood, how the ending made me feel & not necessarily the whole book. Everyone is different.
    I dont mind 3 star books - its still an "i liked it"

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  11. I agree--there are some books that others have LOVED and when I read it I'm like "whyyyyy?" and others that sound awesome but get bad reviews and it makes me want to steer away. But I agree that ratings depend on a lot of factors, and sometimes I know I've rated a book higher than I probably should have because the book I read before it was so much worse that by comparison, it just seemed better.

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  12. I always sit there for a minute before I rate a book because I am like gosh my three and someone else's three might mean something completely different. Just because a book is a 3 doesn't mean for me that it isn't worth a read. I try not to take other's ratings seriously when I pick a book. Unless it is a 1. Then I might rethink it if the premise is just meh.

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  13. I have no real system for how I rate books. Usually the 5 star and DNF or 1 star are easy to determine but all the ones in the middle, my thought process varies on the day I rate it. And, as you know, I typically ignore how others rate a book since we all bring our own experiences to books. And sometimes I look at who gave what book what rating and take it with a grain of salt. #sorrynotsorry

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  14. I am absolutely guilty of thinking of 3's as meh, even though I will rate a book I like and recommend a 3. There is something about "average" that we shun. When I read reviews I always look for what they disliked because sometimes it's something that won't bother me and other times I'm like - yup, that would have driven me bonkers. And I definitely agree how we feel in the moment can affect how we read and rate a book.

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  15. I am not a huge fan of rating systems all together... I prefer to read a review or just go in blind without knowing at all is even better IMO

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  16. I think I probably give mostly 3 star reviews. I don't think it's all negative. To me that is a good book! I liked it. Just didn't REALLY like it. I also think that a 3 star book someone can easily shift to a 2 or a 4 to someone else, because we are all have much different tastes. Gotta take everyone's review with a grain of salt.

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  17. I would say a 2 star rating is "meh", while a 3 star rating means it was good but not amazing. Isn't it funny how much we all differ on how we rate our books (and movies on Netflix)?

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  18. I drive myself crazy when I realize that I've given books a certain number of stars when I reviewed them on Good Reads (usually right after I finish them) and then choose a different number of stars when I review it on my blog. I don't mean to, but even in that short amount of time I change my mood/mind! Haha!

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  19. Totally with you. My rating of a book definitely depends on my mood, so not always accurate. Three is average on their scale...by definition most books have to be average!

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  20. After reading a few people's rating systems on their blogs, I've realized that I tend to give books higher ratings than most people. With that being said, I definitely try to keep other people's rating systems in mind and am still willing to give three star books a chance.

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  21. Love this! I consider a rating of 3 as "good." A rating of 4 equates to me really liking it and a 5 reflects that I LOVED it. I like what you said about your rating system being complicated and varied. As I look back at some of the ratings I gave books 3 years ago, right after I read them, I often think, "I'm not so sure I would give that book that rating now." I think as my reading experiences grow and my horizons continues to broaden, that my expectations are higher. I expect more out of books now than I did 3 years ago.

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  22. 3, for me, is an average book. 4 is a GOOD book I enjoyed a lot. I'm picky about giving 5 stars.
    2 is kinda bleh, and 1 is usually when I want to make a statement about my dislike for a book.

    Just like grading scales, we all seem to interpret the ratings differently. That's why I use letter grades on my blog posts, I guess.

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  23. I rate most books a 3. Personally, that means it was a good book and I am not mad about reading it, but I also don't necessarily recommend it. It was a decent way to pass the time. Four was highly enjoyed and I would definitely recommend, and 4 is an all time favorite.

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  24. love love love love this post! thanks for the shout out as well. but yes seriously, ever since you guys talked about the ratings, and how you will read a book no matter what, i have been reading books i want to read despite the reviews. that sounds a bit ridiculous, but i can't tell you how many times i took a book off my tbr because it didn't have the best ratings, or it even just had a review from a 'friend' saying they didn't like it. i read a book recently that i almost didn't read because of the reviews, and i loved it. so i am trying to be better about that because fuck star ratings and other people's opinions anyway. i'm gonna read what i want to read.
    i know i already spent an age talking about it, but i find that interesting about your friend saying 3s are the 'meh' rating. for the most part a 3 for me is a 'i'm not mad i read it', like i don't feel like i wasted my time. sometimes i might feel meh about it, sometimes i might have really enjoyed the act of reading it, but generally i'm just not mad about it.
    i try and remember that there is no one book in the world that everyone will love or hate, so who cares what other people think. also, like you guys said, i think some people think they are literary critics on goodreads and it's like they are trying to find something wrong with a book sometimes.
    i just realised it's thursday yay podcast day!

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  25. My taste in books is HUGELY different from most folks' taste, so I read what I want and I pity the people who don't realize that my taste is better than theirs. ;)

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  26. After Kristen shared her rating post, I told her I was thinking about doing one as well. I haven't even started it yet (and who knows if I ever will), but I do think it's interesting to see how other people view the books they read.

    I think I rate books kind of like you do in that it really depends on how I'm feeling when I read it. Sometimes I read books and know I would have loved them at a different time in my life, sometimes I read books that I don't enjoy at all but wonder if I just wasn't in the mood for that type of book, and sometimes I read books that really affect me deeply in that moment so I'm saying things like, "You have to read this book RIGHT NOW!" in my review. Would I love it just as much if I read it again 5 or 10 years from now? Who knows.

    I look at a "3" rating as pretty solid. If I give a book a "3" it usually means I enjoyed it but didn't completely fall in love with it. A "2" is pretty meh for me and a "1" is as good as saying, "I want those hours of my life back!" Haha.

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  27. After hearing you & Jana talk about ratings, I'm paying more attention to ratings, meaning I'm not giving them as much weight as before. I'll read the storyline first to decide.

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  28. there are so many books that i've given 3's to and genuinely enjoyed reading! the star ratings vary so much from person. I always take them with a grain of salt. but i mean, as i've said before, how are half stars not a thing yet? seriously, Good reads.

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  29. Books are interesting animals. I never thought about how WHEN you read a book may affect your preception of it... but it's so true! I'm more inclined to give 3s a chance. I rarely enjoy things that are universally loved. Often I fail to understand the hype.

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  30. This is such a good reminder. I've gotten into the habit of avoiding those books that are averaged around 3 stars, but maybe I should be giving them more of a chance!

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  31. I am the same way in that I give most a three as it didn't blow me away but it was decent. I think with how much we read they can't all be 5's and that is ok. I have hated some books that had a high rating and loved some with a low rating, it all is about what you need at the time you read it.

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