I think just about every book blogger & reviewer includes a star rating when writing reviews. I do too, but I have to admit: I think star ratings are almost pointless.
I get that they’re an easy way to show how much you enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) a particular book. Loved it? 5 stars. Thought it was the worst thing you ever read? 1 star. People can get a general idea of your thoughts by looking at a star rating.
The problem is that everyone uses ratings a different way.
I personally tend to give pretty high ratings. Almost everything I read is rated 3+ stars. A book that I found enjoyable and didn’t think had a ton of problems is generally 4 stars. It takes quite a bit for me to give a book 5 stars but it also takes a decent amount of flaws for me to give it less than 3.5 or 4 stars.
That’s how I personally rate books. But go to a different blogger and they’ll use star ratings completely differently.
There are people who almost never give a book 4 or 5 stars because for them, those ratings indicate a much higher quality than it does for me. A 4 star read for them is something that was really good, had great writing, kept them entertained throughout, but just lacked something that a 5 star book would have. It just means something different to them than it does to me. Even for the same reviewer, they may go back and forth on what a certain rating indicates.
Because of the fact that nearly everyone has a different way of using a rating system, I think it’s very difficult for that system to have any real value. If people can’t agree on a set of rules or criteria for a certain rating, how can it be used consistently and reliably? I don’t think it can.
Now, in the beginning I said I think the star rating system is pretty much pointless. It can be helpful. Once you get to know how a certain blogger uses it, it can be more meaningful for you. If you know a certain blogger tends to rate books pretty harshly, then when you see they’ve given a 4 or 5 star, you know that book is probably pretty damn good. Additionally, if you don’t have the time to read a full review, but still want to know what someone thought of a book, you can just skip to the rating and be done with it. So giving a star rating may not be completely pointless, even if it isn’t the best system.
I highly doubt that people are going to ever agree on what a specific star rating means but I also don’t think star ratings will ever stop being used. All in all, I think if you truly want to know what someone thought of the book, you should read the whole review rather than just relying on a star rating.