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Let’s Talk Bookish – Star Ratings: Are they fair or necessary?

Hiya friends and welcome to Let’s Talk Bookish! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by me (Rukky @ Eternity Books), where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

Today’s topic is: Star Ratings – Are they fair or necessary?

I’d like to say a quick thank you to Zoe @ Zoe’s Library for letting me use the topic after she wrote a post on it! I think that star ratings aren’t very fair and they aren’t necessary, but they are much easier, and help save some time in a world where we don’t have a lot of time.

When I’m browsing Goodreads, I mainly pay attention to what a person rated a book. I also then read the first few lines of the review to get an idea about how much the reader liked it, before deciding to check out the book further, or move on.

Ratings are important to me, because they give me a quick analysis of what the general consensus, or what a single reviewer thought of the book. It’s a way to summarize the book, but it isn’t entirely fair.

Some argue that books are like people, and that they are an extension of the author, and I agree. But they aren’t actual living breathing people, so I don’t think it’s really wrong to rate it. It’s a number that can help the author tell whether people liked it or not, without them having to go read actual reviews, some of which won’t be very nice. I wouldn’t rate a person by a number (it’s kind of impossible to do that…), but books aren’t people.

Everybody, at least maybe once in their lifetime, has rated a book x and a half stars. But Goodreads doesn’t have a half star system, and so we are stuck with rounding up or down (GR get to work on this feature please!!). That can change the overall rating of the book and make it look positive, while readers actually didn’t really like it, but they rounded up to 4 since they were stuck at 3.5.

Another reason why stars aren’t necessarily fair is because some people rate books that they haven’t read, which, again, skews the overall rating. It becomes even worse, and at that point you can’t even trust the overall rating, or the individual rating without reading the review, when a lot of people have deemed a book horrible and they are all giving it 1 stars without reading it.

Could we live without star ratings?

Yes, we sure can.

Would reviewing be different?

Defintiely, because now you have to read the whole review to know if the reader liked a book or not.

Should we get rid of the rating system?

At this moment, I don’t think so.

I agree, the rating system isn’t the fairest, and it probably can never describe how much a person loved or hated a book accurately, but it does save us time, and kind of helps, at least for me, when writing reviews, because it reminds you of what made me pick a 2, or 3.25, or 5. I also use the star rating based on it’s definition (1=did not like, 2=it was ok, 3=liked it, 4=really liked it, and 5=it was amazing) so to me, the number is just really an abbreviation for my feelings for the book.

Honestly, I think that if the rating system was to be scrapped, we’d just end up substituting some other figure or picture to represent our feelings and we’d be back to where we started.

This Week’s Participants:

Vicki @ Diverse Fantasy Reads | Jane @ Blogger Books | Penny @ Read Yourself Happy | Kelly @ Books On the Brain | Evelyn @ Evelyn Reads

What do you think about the star rating system? Do you think it’s fair? If we were to stop using it, do you think we’d just end up substituting some other symbol/number in it’s place? Do you sometimes rate books that you haven’t read? Why? Chat with me in the comments below!!

22 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish – Star Ratings: Are they fair or necessary?

  1. I agree! Ratings aren’t generally fair since each reader has various contexts behind every rating system. I just think Goodreads should have a better rating system by adding half-stars! A lot of times I have to wrack my brain on whether I should give a book a 4 or 5 stars just because Goodreads doesn’t have 4.5 haha! Sure, it’s easy to just incude that in the review, but it’ll be much more convenient to just have half-stars in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I generally agree with what you’ve said here. There’s definitely pros to the star system though also some cons. I never really thought about without a star system people would also have to read the bad and harsh reviews without having a way to stick clear or them. I’ve only ever though about people just reading good or at least decent reviews.

    I’ve also never read of people rating books they haven’t read before. How rude, I get that people will rate a book that they DNF-ed and I think that opinion is still relatively valuable, but not to have read any of it?! I don’t agree with doing that.

    https://diversefantasyreads.com/2019/10/04/lets-talk-bookish-star-ratings-are-they-fair-or-necessary/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you do!! Yeah, star ratings help give a quick and overall idea of what the reader thought of the book, and though they aren’t completely fair, they are still pretty helpful.

      Haha, it’s a bit common with books that people are absolutely outraged about. Many rate it to deter others from reading it, but I do agree that that isn’t really fair. I talked about it here if you’d like to read more.

      Happy reading and thank you for taking part!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. But how can you be outraged about it if you haven’t read it?!!! I guess maybe if its super homophobic or some other type of -phobic, but sometimes all that negative attention just gets more people interested just to be contrary

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, if the author has done something that everybody deems horrible, then usually they boycott or refuse to read the author’s book, especially if it has to do with what the author did. For instance, Kathleen Hale, I’m not sure if you know her, in 2015 I think, she stalked a reviewer who gave her a bad review, and this past summer, she published a collection of essays, and one of those essays is about her stalking the reviewer. She even titled the book, Kathleen Hale is a Crazy Stalker… So everybody’s really really furious about it.
        In that case, it’s more of people rating the author through the book, and also kind of protesting against the fact that she’s trying to profit over what she did. TBH, I still think it’s not really that fair…but I understand why everyone’s so angry about it.
        So I think that, generally, when readers rate a book they haven’t read, it’s because of something the author did that they are trying to condemn, or because they think something’s problematic about the book.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I suppose that’s the problem we’ve been discussing. Some people will never read that that’s why everyone is upset about the book, but just look at the rating. Hmmm, maybe if they added a comment along with the rating I’d feel good about it. Also, I have never read about that incident. Too many vague twitter posts for me to figure out sometimes

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah. Oh, most everyone left a comment on that one lol. But I do understand what you mean. And haha, I usually learn about all these controversies until much later as well, so you’re not alone ❤

        It was so great having this discussion with you!!! Thank you so much for replying 🥰💚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great topic and I totally agree with you! Other rating systems would be more ideal, but I don’t think that it will change any time soon! I believe that star ratings are acceptable if one reads the attached review and informs himself why the blogger gave that certain number of stars! Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I don’t know if other rating systems would be more ideal, because it’s the same conept and idea, but it might be a bit fairer than our current system right now. Yes, it’s important to read the review, or at least a part of it to fully understand how much a reviewer liked the book. Thank you! And happy reading to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post (: I think star ratings are helpful but can be misleading at the same time. Like if I see a book that I’m interested in rated three stars I kind of think ‘oh that’s a shame’ even though it isn’t really a bad rating. Plus, as you’ve said, you get some people rating books that they haven’t read up and down. I do think if the system was scrapped people would just carry on regardless or use other symbols. It’s such a standard, ingrained rating system for everything really.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks darling! Haha, I have the exact same feeling, and it usually deters me from reading the book. It’s a bit disappointing when readers review books they haven’t read, because it misleads other readers. But yeah, there probably will always be some sort of rating system even if we tried to get rid of stars.

      Thanks for reading!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes that happens to me sometimes too. Generally if I was excited for it I still plan to read it but I get wary about it too which is frustrating.

        It’s fine, I really enjoyed reading it (:

        Liked by 1 person

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