Have you ever felt confined by a five-star book rating system and wondered what the ratings really mean? It turns out that even the top players in the book rating game mean different things when they use the five-star system. For example, when comparing Goodreads’ star rating definitions to Amazon’s, we quickly see that Goodreads’ three-star rating is Amazon’s four-star rating, while Goodreads’ two-star rating is Amazon’s rating. three from Amazon. I am rightly confused!
While I would love to see Goodreads allow readers to use half stars, they have stated that due to the added layer of complexity this would bring, they have no current plans to allow decimal ratings.
What is my book rating strategy and how does it compare to the one used by Goodreads or Amazon? This is what I found out!
So what’s a book lover to do in the face of these inconsistencies? A first step is to determine what we mean by our review ratings and be consistent with them. As a next step, when reviewing publicly, we need to ensure that our rating aligns with the system of the platform. If our rating system differs, we can clarify this in our written comment.
I personally use half stars (quite often). I list my rating at the top of my review and then clarify what I mean by that particular rating. Round up or down to fit into Goodreads or Amazon systems. Then I say why in my comment. The process is much simpler than it seems! 😀
BookSirens.com offers free advanced reader copies to readers who want to write honest reviews in a timely manner (this is not a sponsored ad, just my experience). As a bonus, they provide readers with a detailed summary of that reader’s individual reading and review style, including excellent, practical charts and graphs. According to Book Sirens, as of November 9, 2022, I have rated 248 books (more than 72,000 pages) with an average rating of 4.0. Seventeen of these books were classified in the last three months. They also noted that I have written reviews of 155 of these books.
This chart provided by BooksSirens suggests that I am a strict critic compared to other readers. The green on this graph indicates where my scores were highest. The red shows where they were lowest. In my defense, I have given 5-star ratings to six of my last twenty-four books read. Not all books can be favorites!
Without further ado, here are the books that have been on my shelf recently. Keeping with the book rating theme, I’ve included the current average rating from Goodreads and Amazon along with my own. Interesting finds! I have listed the books from my highest rating to my lowest. If I had listed them in order of Goodreads or Amazon rank, the sequence would have been drastically different. My highest-rated book (which I strongly stand for) was the lowest in this set on Amazon and second lowest on Goodreads.
Indians on Holiday, Thomas King
Summary of the book: At times witty, cunning and moving, this is the unforgettable story of a couple’s vacation trip to Europe, where their wanderings through its famous capitals reveal a complicated history, both personal and political.
My classification: 5
Current rating on Goodreads: 3.79
Current rating on Amazon: 4.2
Who might enjoy this book: Glory G., who blogs at women wealth canada.
My review: Reading Indians on Vacation, I was reminded once again that while our small actions may not be able to change the world the way we’d like, they do change us. And that makes a big difference. read more here.
The Fading Half, Brit Bennett
Summary of the book: The Vanishing Half was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Carefully consider the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, expectations, and actions.
My classification: 4
Current rating on Goodreads: 4.18
Current rating on Amazon: 4.3
Who might enjoy this book: Ann (who blogs at the non-retired). I saw this book in your TBR stack!
My review: The Vanishing Half deals with relationships, racism, colorism, domestic violence, gender identity, and many other provocative, multi-layered topics. Bennett handles this complex subject sensitively without becoming self-righteous or preachy. read more here.
Chemistry Lessons, Bonnie Garmus
Summary of the book: Out loud, shrewdly observant, and packed with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, chemistry lessons it is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.
My classification: 4
Current rating on Goodreads: 4.38
Current rating on Amazon: 4.5
Who might enjoy this book: Elizabeth H., teacher, scientist, cook and baker, all extraordinary!
My review: With a powerful ongoing message of breaking free from the shackles of society, by the end of the novel, the main characters begin to do just that. read more here. PS: This book didn’t make me laugh out loud… but I did laugh out loud once, maybe twice!
Alice’s Network, Kate Quinn
Summary of the book: Two women, a real-life spy recruited from the Alice Network in France during World War I and an offbeat American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947, come together in a riveting story of courage and redemption.
My classification: 3.5
Current rating on Goodreads: 4.31
Current rating on Amazon:4.6
Who might enjoy this book: Sue L. who blogs at Women Living Well After 50. Sue loved Quinn’s The Rose Code (which I haven’t read yet).
my review: I liked that this historical fiction was based on the WWI French secret agent Louise de Bettignies (Alice Dubois) and her network of spies (The Alice Network). I learned a lot. read more here.
youThe Day the Falls Stopped, C. Buchanan
Summary of the book: A moving novel that captures both the majesty of nature and the mystery of love.
My classification: 3
Current rating on Goodreads: 3.70
Current rating on Amazon:4.4
Who might enjoy this book: Gillian W., who grew up on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
My review: I’m known to be critical of book endings. Very often, I am completely engrossed in a book until its final chapters, and then the last few pages ruin it. For me, it was the exact opposite with The Day the Falls Stood Still. read more here
If you rate books even casually, what system do you use? Do you ever give only one or two stars? Half stars? Do you grade the books you didn’t finish? I would love to know more.
Debbie, Jo, to sue and I also invite you to share what has been in your library recently. You can do so in the comments or via this handy link below.
Before retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing, China for fourteen years (high school principal/Deputy Principal of Beijing Western Academy). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope you enjoy reading these reflections and that you are willing to share your own.
View All Retirement Reflections Posts
Leave a Reply