Discussion – Book Review Rating Systems

Over the last week or two, I have seen a number of posts looking at the systems we use to rate books the we read and review. Some of these posts have even questioned the relevance or importance of a rating compared with the opinion of the reviewer, their words and thoughts. To some extent I can see where this view point comes from. Everybody has a different set of interests, likes and dislikes. So the rating itself doesn’t necessarily matter as much as the critique we may write within the review.

Personally, I like a rating. I have used a 5 star system here on Books and Beyond Reviews. Why? Well, simply put, why not? The vast majority of eCommerce websites I visit use a classic 5 star method. As it goes without saying, I may understand the idea of not having a rating, but I far prefer having a rating on each review I give.

But is the 5 star approach the correct one for me? Well it was. Until I began to realise that not all 3 star books are equal. Or any star rating for that matter. Some 3 star books are better than 2, while others are not quite 4. So 3 seems right doesn’t it? Well, then the doubts set in – how can I justify the 3 star book that is better than a 2 star book is equal to the 3 star book that is not quite a 4 star book? I couldn’t, so I introduced what I thought was a fool proof system – half star increments between 1 and 5.

EUREKA! This was my bathtub thought moment. Β Or so I thought. But all this did was raised a further issue – I jumped from 5 possible ratings to 9 possible ratings. I found myself spending longer and longer deliberating over what score to assign a book than I did on the review. And it didn’t remove the issue of comparison with other books in the same bracket.

My other issue is that of perception. If I gave a book a 3 star rating, that wasn’t bad – that was an okay, fair book. Neither mind-blowingly amazing or tear-inducingly bad. But I worried what was in my head would not be perceived by the author. So I have decided to trial a new system. A simple three tier system – rate it, hate it or okay. What was a 1 or 2 star book will receive the “Not for me” rating, “Okay book” will be the equivalent of a 3 star book, and “Good Read” will be the equivalent of a 4 or 5 star book.

This will just be a trial, so please give me feedback on the new system, and look out for the following three new rating icons:


Please let me know your thoughts on the new rating system! If the trial goes well, I will back date it to all past reviews. I hope this makes things easier to suss out my overall feelings towards a book.

4 thoughts on “Discussion – Book Review Rating Systems

  1. Personally I think “hate it” will cause hurt and offence, although I agree there are some terrible books out there. But if they’re that bad, why mention them at all? “Hate” is a strong word, and books are a complex, sometimes subtle product that have taken time to produce, whatever the outcome. So I think you need to rethink this one. Also, you may find you get some vitriol directed back at you.


    1. True maybe hate it is too strong. Maybe “not a fan” or “not for me” would be safer. My feeling is if an author has requested a review, I feel I should review it-good or bad. If bad, I always email the author to explain my thinking and am never harsh in my reviews.


  2. like to emoji symbols but not sure about ‘Hate’, feel could be very disheartening to author although I know where you are stating dislike for a book but maybe an alternative for this one that not quite so harsh?


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