Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday's Word: Stars

Stars, specifically those awarded on Goodreads, have been on my mind lately. Recently an author friend  expressed her concern that I didn't like her book because I gave it three stars on Goodreads. I let her know, that coming from me, three stars is a good thing, that I liked her book and I could recommend it to other readers in her genre. I also assured her that I don't hand out 4 and 5 stars very freely. A book has to be something that really sings to my personal taste, knocks my socks off, and leaves me mulling the story over and over in my mind for days afterward, for me to award it 5 stars. And that is rare.

Am I wrong for being so stingy with stars? Maybe, but it's who I am.

I have found that I'm the exception rather than the rule. As I look at others' Goodreads ratings of books, I notice that many readers give 4 and 5 stars to everything they read. While this is nice for their author friends, it is very little help to me when I'm trying to discriminate and determine which books would be a good pick for me. I feel like I'm at an elementary school science fair where they award every project a blue ribbon just for participating. While that's admirable for not wanting to hurt any feelings, where's the reward for the student that went the extra mile in their project.

If I see a book on a friend's list receive 2 or 3 stars, I don't necessarily think it is a bad book. I weigh in the possibility that the book wasn't to their taste, especially when the book might receive 4 or 5 stars from another reader. I appreciate when people are honest with their reviews--that doesn't mean they can be mean and heartless. Most every book will appeal to some people and not to others. When people look at my Goodreads ratings and think I'm harsh, may I remind them of the meanings behind each star:
1 star: didn't like it
2 stars: it was okay
3 stars: liked it
4 stars: really liked it
5 stars: it was amazing.

Don't tell me you've never read a book you didn't like?
And did that necessarily mean the book was bad? No.
Taste isn't reserved only for the tongue.


  1. I have awarded a few books 3 stars lately. I liked them, and I wrote good reviews I think, but I had noticed that I was passing out a lot of 4 and 5 stars and needed to get some perspective. I don't mind 3 stars myself. Some reviewers will write a glowing review and give a book 3 stars, so it's all good. I'd rather have that than someone giving me 4 stars and then saying everything they didn't like about the book.

  2. I agree with you that seeing all 4 and 5 ratings make it hard to pick a good book. On the other hand, I usually know how to pick what I like to read and the rating usually coincides. If you see a 5 rating from me, you know I'd recommend it.
    I also liked Karen's thoughts. Thanks.