Counting Stars

A few days ago, I was talking to Boquinha (of Sushi and Pizza) in the comment section of my review for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. She pointed out that I must be a tough critic because I said I enjoyed the book and then gave it three stars out of five.

And it made me think. I probably do rate books strangely. Let’s look at my Goodreads account, where I found this cool feature that categorizes your books into any number of ways!

screenshot2edited_Pretty cool, right? If you want to see this on your own page, go to “My Books,” scroll down to “Tools” in the left-hand column, click on “Stats,” and then hit “Details.”

This graph displays all forty-six books read so far in 2014 and I am indeed fond of that three-star rating. Over half the books belong to that group. But does that mean I don’t like most of what I read? Not at all. I consider three-star books to be perfectly good, enjoyable reads.

Not perfect. Perfectly good. So, they didn’t blow my mind but they did provide a nice diversion for an hour or two. Most of the books I’ve read (throughout my life, not just during this year) are probably three-star books. I think most books on the planet are three-star books – entertaining and moderately thought-provoking, but neither extraordinary nor awful.

Maybe that does make me a tough critic. You’ll notice that very few books earned four stars, and there is only one five-star book to date. However, you’ll also notice that there are nearly equal amounts of two-star and four-star books. If book ratings begin at zero, then two point five is the halfway point between zero and five – and so this category makes up the “did not enjoy” stack of books.

Goodreads itself helps with this: Hovering over each star brings up a different rating description and two is “it was OK” while three is “I liked it.” A subtle but important difference.

Furthermore, you’ll notice that there are no one-star books! Basically, I did like most of what I’ve read these past few months. I only add books to my “read in 2014” list if I actually finished them (and they aren’t rereads, because I’m weird that way) and when a book is so terrible that it would likely get one star, I just don’t bother finishing it. Who would?

And maybe I should add that if you still think I’m too picky, this whole thing is further complicated by Goodread’s stubborn refusal to let me rate books using half-stars! In book reviews posted on my blog, sometimes I use whole stars (3/5) and sometimes I use half-stars (3.5/5). Again, it’s a small difference, but it matters to me. It’s a way of saying, “This book deserves more than ‘good’ but it didn’t quite reach the point of ‘a cut above most books.'”

And there you have it. I like my little three-star ratings. And my four-star ratings. And that lonely five-star rating. Basically, I like anything as long as it’s not two stars or below. If the rating is one lone star, does that mean the book belongs to the state of Texas? Three stars mean I appreciated the story so don’t fret, minions and blog-readers, if someday – when we’re all awesome published authors doing awesome things – I give your books the same rating.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Counting Stars

  1. When I first started reading your blog, I thought you were a very harsh critic. When I first saw you give a book four stars, I thought, “OH MY GOD, WHAT’S HAPPENED TO HER?!” But I’ve since realized that your three star ratings are the equivalent of my four star ratings (which, apparently, I give a lot of books–though I’m very picky about which ones I give five stars to). I guess it just depends on the blogger. (That’s why I love it when people put rating systems on the sides of their blogs that say what a three star rating means, a four star rating, etc. Then I know if three stars is good or bad.)

    • nevillegirl says:

      Hehe. I guess I feel like being a bit harsh makes the four-star ratings more special because I don’t give those out willy-nilly.

      I should probably write something on my “about” page or wherever about what each star rating means to me…

  2. Lydia says:

    Ratings are interesting things, because everyone means different things by different ratings. I seldom give a book five stars. If I do, it’s often one that I’ve re-read.

    I think I have the most four star ratings. But sometimes I go back and take a star off of the ones that didn’t stick in my mind very well. That to me, is one of the measures of a good book. How long do you remember it for, and how often do you think about it?

    • nevillegirl says:

      Indeed. Very few books impress me enough to warrant five stars the first time around. And sometimes I change ratings too. I appreciate Maggie Stiefvater’s stuff more with each rereading, and my opinion of HP started to go down a while ago.

  3. Cait says:

    Actually that’s why I think star ratings are so hard to gauge!! I know some reviews who give almost every book 4 stars. That just seems to be their basis. I’m a 4-star giver. If I enjoyed the book I’ll give it a 4, providing it doesn’t have too many things I was unhappy with how were handled. I’m a pretty liberal 5-star giver, though. Not TOO liberal, because I want my 5-stars to mean something…but life’s short! 😉 I want to rate big and fat while I can. I give books 1-stars when I’m so mad I can’t even talk about them. Or I DNF’d them. But I think 3-stars IS actually fair. For you it means you liked it. For me, it means I felt meh about it. THE ENTIRE THING IS SO SUBJECTIVE IT’S CONFUSING. >_< lol

  4. Pingback: A Sky Full Of Stars – Top Ten Books I Read In 2014 | Musings From Neville's Navel

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