discussion

[Discussion] Why Not 5 Stars?

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A while back, I was doing some research on how to grow our blog (isn’t everyone?). What do do, what not to do. That sort of thing. And one of the pieces of advice that stuck with me (although I can’t for the life of me tell you who said it) was talking about how beginner bloggers tend to rate everything five stars because their skills aren’t refined enough yet.

confusion - charlie

Okay, I was trying to keep an open mind so I started looking at books a lot closer when I was reading them. I started taking notes, adding more of my own personality to my reviews (I hope you’ve noticed!), and refining my rating scale. There was just one problem. I still wanted to rate five stars to a large number of the books I was reading. I was struggling to find something wrong with them, just so I could rate them lower.

what

Wait a minute.

When reviewing, I always tried to give books the best rating possible.  Obviously, not all books are fives. Some aren’t even fours, or threes, or twos. There are going to be those books that you just don’t like. Or ones that you liked but they just weren’t quite at a five.

But then there are those books that blow your mind. The ones that are so emotional, they rip your heart out of your chest and squash it, only to shove it back in, bleeding and broken. They leave you in a book coma for days, unsure if you will ever feel as much or love a book as much as this one.

So why not give them five stars? Why do we feel the need to rate lower than five stars just so that we don’t look like newbies?

And then it really hit me – we’re talking a 2×4 to the forehead – what if I’m just reading books I really enjoy? What if it has nothing to do with my rating style and everything to do with my choice in reading material? Maybe I’m picking books that are more suited to what I want to read.

Why then, if I really enjoy a book, should I feel guilty about giving five stars to that book? The author clearly poured a piece of their heart and soul into it. They created the amazing characters, a world that is so real you can almost touch it. Their language was smooth, allowing me to get pulled into the book and not drop back out because of a typo. The cover art was gorgeous – not just some clipart that they splashed some words on and called in a cover (yes, unfortunately, there are those books. I have seen them). The book has been properly edited and I enjoyed every minute of it. Why then, don’t they deserve to receive all five stars?

The answer? They do.

Just recently, Crystal reviewed a book that she absolutely adored. There wasn’t a thing about it she didn’t like. As we were discussing the book (and her review), I teased her a bit because she had given it 4.9 stars out of 5. I asked her “Why 4.9?” I thought she was being funny. Her answer? “Because you told me we weren’t supposed to rate everything 5 stars!”

Yes, I did.

In trying to conform to other bloggers’ idea of what an experienced review looks like, we would be holding back, denying authors the full stars they deserved.

But is that really fair to the author? Or to us as readers?

johnny depp question

What do you think? Do you think many five star ratings shows us as an inexperienced reviewer/blogger? Or do you think that authors who put the time, creativity and even money into their books deserve all five stars? Do you have a different opinion altogether? Let’s get a discussion going! We want to hear your opinions 🙂

Happy Monday!
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27 thoughts on “[Discussion] Why Not 5 Stars?”

  1. Megan, I couldn’t agree more with you on this one! I’ve been blogging for five years now, and reviewing for a lot longer – and a large number of the books I review are five star reads for me. It’s not because I lack the critical faculties, but because I choose to read books that I’ll enjoy…

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    1. I agree. I am totally the same. I just don’t see the point of forcing myself to finish a book I don’t like. If I don’t feel like I can continue on reading the book, I’ll just stop reading there and review what I have read and move on to another book

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  2. I believe you have to be true to yourself. If you feel a book is worthy of 5 starts, then that is what you should give it. Your readers want a true and honest opinion. The belief that you should not give it a five, reminds me of a teacher who never gives an A on purpose. It should be rated based on criteria that you believe would make it whatever number of stars you want to give it. A book should be read for pleasure and understanding, and if at the end of the reading you believe it to be a 5 or a 1, that is what you should rate it, with your justifications.The depth of the reflection is far more important to me than the number of stars!

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  3. I don’t do a lot of reviews myself, but I read plenty of them. I’ve seen some pretty mature blogs that have 5-start ratings aplenty. I’ve seen smaller blogs that give them out like the Grinch gives out Halloween candy (bad simile? Yes. I don’t care. But just to be clear, I meant that they don’t.)
    Ultimately, I’m glad that both exist. I think Bloggers should find what works for them, and just do that. I also think that ratings should be assisted depending upon where they’re posted–a four star on your blog and Goodreads could (and probably should) be a five star on Amazon.
    Just my thoughts!

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      1. It’s a semi-common practice I’ve seen Bloggers do, especially when they give a rating like 3.5–they’ll round up on Amazon and down on Goodreads. I think it’s to reflect that many Amazon raters give less than a 5 only if there is a problem with a product, whereas Goodreads raters may only give a 5 if something exceeds their expectations.

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  4. 1) When I started out, I actually rated books lower than I do now, as I was unaware of the difference between indie and non-indie authors and was holding each to the same standard. While I have the same expectation of an entertaining read and writing quality, I find I am more willing to overlook minor flaws and consider or rate a book in totality. I am often staggered by the raw talent of first time and indie authors just finding their legs and doing it all on their own.

    2) I have vastly improved in my book selections and in so doing, am picking out books I know I will like the majority of the time, which has significantly increased the amount of 5-star ratings I now have on my blog.

    3) While I haven’t done this often – if I’m finding a book to be over my head, dull, tedious, or uninteresting, it is best that I stop reading and DNF, which is usually the kindest thing I can do as I only write honest reviews. I read for enjoyment, and if I’m not enjoying it, I don’t have to force myself to finish. I wouldn’t eat rotten food, why should I punish myself or waste my time on a book I don’t care for?

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    1. Okay, #1 – I am a strong advocate of the Indie authors. I have seen many whose quality exceeds those of traditionally published authors. And I agree with you, there are many Indie or first-time authors I have read who completely astound me!
      #2 – exactly!! This is what I was thinking when we started questioning this. Maybe I’m just getting better at knowing what I want to read?
      #3 – I don’t DNF often but I do have one thing to add to that – if I DNF, I don’t write reviews. My reason being that I have completely changed my opinion of a book in the last 20 pages before so if I don’t read the entire book, I don’t feel that I am able to give a complete review. Make sense?
      Thanks for your feedback 🙂

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  5. When I first started blogging this is something I really struggled with. It wasn’t until after a year of reviewing books I started to really feel comfortable with rating books based on how I felt about them instead of what I thought I should feel about them.
    I love seeing people read books they love and knowing what they like and don’t like. If your reading all five star books I’m actually a little bit jealous because that means you’ve found what you love and truly enjoy reading. Now the only time I can see how rating all 5 stars is if your getting asked to do so by the publisher/agent/author, etc.
    Right now I’m still trying to find what I love outside of just Historical Fiction, and because of that my ratings have been all over the place, and because of trying to get out of my comfort zone I haven’t read a lot of 5 star books this year sadly.
    Rate books the rating you think they deserve and give some info on the side of wherever you review so people can know your rating scale.

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    1. My 5 stars are exactly that – I have found the niche of books that I really enjoy. My authors are increasing but I tend to stay in the same general genre-range. Of course, I branch out into new areas (I did so recently in reading Madeline Martin’s historical fiction books), and sometimes I see a dip in my 5 stars. My main point with this post was that I don’t think we should hold back just so we look like “mature” bloggers. I think, if you truly enjoy a book, the author deserves every single star. Thanks for your input 🙂

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  6. This is something I argue with myself about a lot. Since starting my book review blog, the question crosses my mind alot. It drives me insane, I have a sticky note by my computer that reminds says “It’s my blog and my opinion” I put it there so I would stop arguing with myself over my ratings.

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  7. MEGAN!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this discussion! I actually did not get this memo about ratings but I did NOTICE that many bloggers have like all 5 stars every one… There’s absolutely nothing wrong with rating 5 stars in my book, I rate anything 5 that I want to… but i found with my own reading that when I have a streak of 5 stars that I tend to take a chance on something outside my comfort zone and end up breaking that streak… So when I see a reader who only has 5 stars I see that they never really read outside of their comfort zone… The natural ups and downs to life should cause your rating to vary.

    The point of your post though I believe was to give 5 stars where they are deserved and not to feel guilty about it! I’m all for it! In reality I dislike ratings period, lol. In fact I tried at first to write reviews with NO rating but it was confusing to me after a while… so I went back to ratings… it’s actually one of the hardest things about blogging to me… ❤

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    1. Absolutely, Dani! That was where I was going. I have been taking quite a few chances outside my comfort zone lately and that’s great. But I was struck by the fact that we were trying to downgrade a book from 5 to 4 just for the sake of not having all 5s. And that, to me, is wrong. I’m so glad you caught that 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to add your two cents!

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  8. You read my mind! A few weeks ago, I saw this post on Goodreads where a person was ranting about how some people have no idea how to review a book and always end up giving them five stars. And I do that. Most of the books I read get a 5 or 4 stars rating from me. And I know that it’s not because I don’t know otherwise but because I know what kind of books I like. I chose the book because it’s synopsis made sure I’ll like it, not because I would read anything I get my hands on and then rant about how it sucked.

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    1. Absolutely! And I have seen a few of those where people are ranting about it and I don’t understand that. I think it really shows their close-mindedness. Maybe we just know what kind of books we like? Of course, lower ratings sometimes means you are taking a chance on books outside your comfort zone. It can really go so many ways! Thanks for adding your opinion to the mix 🙂

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  9. It is important to discuss these issues, so many of us go through the burden of what others expect the “perfect” blog should be. You have made some very relevant points, why not rate a book highly if it is one that you have thoroughly enjoyed?
    Thanks for this.

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  10. It is true that some people will give books 5 stars to be nice but majority of people give so many books five stars because they only select books they think they will enjoy. I know very few people who see a book they will hate and say “Yes! I want to read a dull and boring book!” Giving a book 5 or 1 star should not matter so much to other people. I don’t get why anyone else makes a big deal of how often another person gives out 5 stars! Give out all the 5 stars!

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  11. Hey, it’s your blog showing your lifestyle, your point of view, your interests. You would be just stupid wasting time on reading books that you don’t like after a few pages and wasting time on writing a review of a bad book! I come to bloggers with whom I share similar interests and worldview, and experiences. And I’m surely not interested what they don’t like. I’m interested what they value, what they like, think. What belongs to their lifestyle and not what’s trash for them.
    Keep on writing reviews of good books!

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  12. I don’t rate a lot of book as 5 but if I believe that the book that worth it, I’ll rate it 5. I don’t think that rating the book in 5 would deem me as an inexperienced reviewer/blogger.

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