The Four Star Crisis

I did not realise that the star rating system was something I used so much in my life.

I use it for books, films, restaurants, hotels, years (2016 got 0 stars obviously), nightclubs, makeup, I could go on. But recently I’ve been having trouble try to explain myself as to why I’ve given a book a certain number of stars.

Goodreads doesn’t exactly force you to use their star rating system, but enough people still complain about it, one of the biggest complaints being that there aren’t half star ratings. I get it; you’ve signed up to a website where you want better explain yourself as to why you loved/hated a book. You want to be a little more precise, and sometimes a star rating system doesn’t really do it justice.

And while I haven’t really had a problem using it before, I’ve noticed a trend in the books I’ve been rating.

I bloody love to use four stars.

A lot of people on their blogs have a set of guidelines as to what they mean when they give a book a certain amount of stars, but I’ve never done that. I didn’t want to be so rigid in my rating, but it now comes across as slightly confusing, especially to myself. The only star ratings that seem to explain enough are one star (fucking awful) and five stars (fucking incredible), and while I rarely use two stars because I might as well just knock it down to one and only use three if the book was average, I use four stars to the point where the books rated do not have the same opinion from me anymore.

Four stars, for me, has been the ‘could have been five stars, but wasn’t just quite there’, which is a good enough explanation. But recently, the lines have blurred. The books aren’t mediocre, but they’re probably not something I’d read again. Some are strong four stars and some are weak four stars, but does that mean I’m using four stars too liberally? Is a four star a watered down five star or a heavily concentrated three star?

Why must you torture me this way, four stars??

Am I being too nice? Too cruel? Looking at my Goodreads, there’s far too many four star books; some I read the sequels eagerly, and some I have given away almost instantly. I turned my back on those books.

Maybe it’s time for something different. Maybe the star rating system is not good enough to explain how I feel about a book. Not all the books I read can be four stars. Otherwise, what’s the point in rating them if they all have the same rating?

How do you go about rating books, if at all? What do you think about when deciding how many stars to give a book? What makes a book receive a half star, or even lose one? What’s your opinion on the dreaded four star dilemma?

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  1. mudandstars

    February 28, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Relate to this 10/10 haha. I use four stars so much it has completely lost its meaning. And like you, some of the books I give four stars to I forget and never read again, and some are favourites. I think I’m going to have to use three stars more for enjoyable but average books!

  2. Birdie

    February 28, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Oh man, I’ve noticed that almost everything I rate is four stars. Four starts the most, then 3’s and 5’s are probably tied. I guess we’re just easy to please folks, and that’s okay. 🙂

  3. Aoife

    February 28, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    This is so true. I’ve been far too liberal with my four star treatment the last while – I gave out four stars more than any other last year! I need to pace myself a little bit now.

  4. Ravenclaw Book Club

    February 28, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    I use four stars the same way you do, but to be honest I don’t really mind having a lot of four-star books. I don’t like to stress about it, I just rate books what feels right. 😊

  5. Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews

    March 5, 2017 at 7:10 am

    I relate to this SO much. I feel like I have so many different meanings for “4 Stars”, haha. There’s like a higher end of the scale and a lower. Sometimes I think maybe I should start rating books with like .75 or whatever, but I’m also too lazy so I’ll just stick with my 4 stars. I actually think the majority of my ratings on GR are 4 stars 😂

  6. Fiona

    March 8, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    I actually don’t give out stars, partially for this reason. What I do instead is mention a specific group I feel will especially enjoy reading a certain book.

  7. 2018 Book Blogger Awards Nominees [where Shealea can’t seem to shut up about how amazing book bloggers are] – That Bookshelf Bitch

    April 21, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    […] am always interested in whatever she posts! Her discussions range from silly bookworm problems like the four star crisis to more pressing concerns such as queerbaiting. Her blog is also a great source of amazing book […]

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