Tag: In My Opinion

IMO: Rating Books and the Pressure of the Five Star

Posted on 03/05/2013 in Discussion / 7 Comments

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There is a lot of stock in book ratings.  Authors live and die by them, readers and reviewers use them as a weight when making a purchasing decision.  Publishers use them to market books.

I read on someone’s blog sometime last year that they thought some bloggers handed out five stars like candy.  Meanwhile on Goodreads, I follow a user whom I almost never see leave a good rating; most of hers are 1’s and 2’s, and I wonder privately to myself if she is too harsh, or simply picking the wrong books.

Which begs the question: where do I fall?  Do I leave too many 5’s and not enough 1’s?  Is there even a “right” number, and why should I feel pressured to leave something other than what I feel about the book anyway?   As kids, there is a lot of pressure to conform, and I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t change as you get older.  Out of the 140 books reviewed on The Bawdy Book Blog, 36 are five stars.  Hi, my name is Jennifer and I doubt my book ratings.

Let’s take a look at my rating stats:

5 Stars74
4.5 Stars21
4 Stars128
3.5 Stars54
3 Stars71
2.5 Stars24
2 Stars23
1.5 Stars2
1 Star7
0.5 Star2
0 Stars1
Did Not Finish2

I suffer from over-inflated ratings, I freely admit that.  I finish a book, and I come off that high thinking, AMAZING! AWESOME! I NEED MOAR!

Bronie understands.
Bronie understands.

And then, a couple of weeks, months, days-after-I’ve-posted-the-review later, I reread it (Jenn, you effing narcissist), and I think to myself, “Wow, you know, I liked it, but I didn’t really like it as much as I thought I did.”  Except, I have my pride, and I don’t change live ratings once they’ve already aired to the public.  (Seriously, 46 four-star reviews in two years, Jennifer?  Yes, seriously.)  Plus, that would be a pretty douchey move.

To put the numbers into perspective, I have only left four one-star reviews on The Bawdy Book Blog…IN TWO YEARS.

Let’s not also forget that there’s that “other group” out there that targets and bullies bloggers for bad ratings and reviews, so some bloggers may feel the pressure to rate higher, too.  As if anyone purposely chooses a book they know they will not like to deliberately rate low.  No one really does that.

So is it just over-inflated ratings?  Or do I know myself well enough that I pick books I am pretty sure I’m going to like?  This brings me back to the Goodreads user who consistently rates books she reads very low.  Is she just bad at picking out books for herself?

So now instead of instantly rating a book right away, I sit on it for a little while, and let it juice in my mind.  Rating Juice, that’s what I’m going to call it.  I let it tumble around in my mind, think about the book, and if I’m still fangirling over it days later, like I did with John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, or Tammara Webber’s Easy, then I can safely say it’s a five-star review.  But the pressure to properly rate a book makes me completely understand why some bloggers avoid rating books altogether.

What do you guys think?  Do you suffer from over-inflated ratings and do you feel pressured to rate books lower on occasion?  And do you think bloggers give too many high ratings?

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