How do you rate?

I’ve been pondering the star system for rating books that is popular with sites like Amazon

b9317007003z-1_20150416182831_000_ge2ahbij5-1-0and Goodreads.  I often have an initial response to a book, but over time – I find my rating changes.  For example, I read a knock-your-socks-off book and realize that it is better than the five-star rating I gave to the book I read last week.  Now what?

Much of my rating is based on my emotional response to the book.  How did it make me feel?  I wonder if  there is a more scientific way to judge books consistently?  In my quest to rate books consistently, I’ve looked back (and edited) my ratings of 144 books I’ve read since I began recording on Goodreads.

  • One star – 4 books.
  • Two star -7 books.
  • Three star- 27 books.
  • Four star – 62 books.
  • Five star – 44 books.

Looking at the big picture, it looks like I rate most books a four-star. Which would make sense, because I tend to only start books I’m interested in or intrigued by. I then began to research how others rate books and jot notes on what was most important to me.  The below rubric is what I’ve come up with based on what I feel is important.


10 points 8 points 6 points 4 points 2 points
How Engaging is it? Reading the next page was more important than food, housework or sleep Hard to put down. Thought about it when I wasn’t reading it. I could put it down to do other things It was  pure effort and determination to finish Didn’t finish or skimmed
How did I feel about the book? I LOVED it!! Going on my favorites shelf. I’m a better person for having read it. Want to tell the world about it. I liked it! I’d recommend it. Probably wouldn’t reread only because there are so many books and so little time Not bad. Not good Often a good book, just not the right one for me.  Gleaned a few nuggets from it. Meh. Forgettable. Wouldn’t recommend or reread. Evokes occasional eye rolls, gags and sighs. Awful. Waste of my time. Wouldn’t recommend or reread
Style Beautiful. Precise words. Good sentence flow. Voice. Unique. Memorable. A fine dining experience Good.  Really good.  Often just missing that little something extra.  The sit down restaurant Wasn’t detracted or impressed by style.  A chain restaurant Fluffy, forced, not polished or true to themselves. A drive thru – fast food experience Needs to find a new editor.  Embarrassing. Frozen pizza that leaves you with heartburn
Characters, theme, plot and setting Well edited, well-developed characters, the theme leaves you thinking about the book long after you’ve read it Overall nicely done with only minor issues in one category Willing to overlook minor weaknesses in two or more areas due to good content or engaging. Major flaws in at least one area Author tells me instead of shows me. Sloppy, predictable. Strained plot.
Grammar, spelling and punctuation Well edited Fewer to no errors.  Only subjective or preference issues. Could have used another set of eyes on the manuscript Overuse of passive voice or adverbs Replete with grammar, spelling or punctuation errors.
Rating Scale
41-50 5 Star
31-40 4 Star
21-30 3 Star
11-20 2 Star
10 1 Star

How about you? How do you rate books?


  1. I completely agree. I love the way you rate books. I often read a book, think about it, then read portions of the book again, wishing there was a way I could tell someone else about this special book. I’d love to print this blog of yours. I’d print it and start rating my books using your new rating system. Thanks for sharing your great idea.

    • Thanks! I think you should rate books! I love looking through other people’s reviews that I respect – it gives me fresh ideas of books I want to read. (or not read!) You can rate and write a review on your blog, Goodreads or Amazon – just a few places to get your started. Also, if you want to print an article, there is a print button at the end of each blog post under “Share this”. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

    • Thanks. It’s interesting how writing and reading are different sides of the same coin, isn’t it? I understand more now than ever how important it is for writers to be readers. I wasn’t thinking about using the rubric to evaluate my writing – but you are right – it would work just as well for that as it would for evaluating a book.

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