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How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thoughts

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How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thoughts

Post Number:#1 by Skillian
» 06 Jan 2015, 22:37

Is anyone else feeling they don't really give out ones or fours?

I feel like unless a book is just so incredibly bad that I wish I could travel through time and prevent the author from writing it... then it doesn't diverse a one. Then on the opposite side of the spectrum... no matter how much I enjoyed a book... unless I feel it changed my life... I wont want to give it a four.

I understand this is an extreme and that the guidelines only state:

"You are also expected to rate the book on a scale of 1 to 4 stars with 1 being the worst and 4 being the best. Use the following guidelines for rating: 1 = bad, 2 = fair, 3 = good, 4 = excellent); basically if you give it a 3 or a 4 you are recommending others read it, if you give a 1 you are strongly recommended other people do not bother reading it, and if you give it a 2 that's sort of ambiguous since obviously you didn't like it that much but maybe others will. Official ratings do not use half-points (e.g. 3.5 stars); rather choose a whole number for the official rating which must be included in the review and then explain in the review why you would give or take partial points if that was possible."


But basically.. I feel the vast majority of books are either a two or a three.

But then I feel people don't consider a three to be very good... but in fact it is very good... it just isn't one of the few books I feel I will remember until the day I die because it altered me in some way...good.

So to better explain my thinking:
1: Shouldn't exist
2: OK/Fair/Some people might like it more than me
3: Unquestionably good/I know other people would also like this
4: Changed my life/Changed me/How did I live before I read this?/ Everyone should read this at least once in their lives

Are authors expecting fours being unrealistic? Are other reviewers not as harsh as me? Am I too harsh?

I'd like some feedback on this! What do you guys think?
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Re: How do YOU score reviews? Your personal thoughts.

Post Number:#2 by PashaRu
» 06 Jan 2015, 22:46

I completely agree! Although I have given one book a "1" and one book a "4," I think the vast majority fall in the 2-3 range. A "1" has to be so god-awful terrible that it makes me mad that it was even written, while a "4" has to super impress me with both story, writing skill, and lack of mechanical errors. I mean, WAY above average.

What I REALLY wish is that we would change to a 5-point rating system instead of a 4-point one ("1" being horrible, "5" being fantastic.) It's only one more point, but for me it would make a huge difference. Sometimes I think a book should get a 2.5 or 3.5, but those ratings aren't available.
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Re: How do YOU score reviews? Your personal thoughts.

Post Number:#3 by gali
» 06 Jan 2015, 22:55

Few books have managed to change my life, so I don't take it into consideration when rating a book. I give 4 stars when I really loved the book and enjoyed it greatly. I give 3 stars to books I have enjoyed, but had some flaws in them. Like you, I also think that 3 stars are very good.

I base my decision whether to read the book or not on based on the review itself and not just on the score given. I feel that the review reflects the book better than the score since it lets me know if the book is to my taste.
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#4 by Skillian
» 06 Jan 2015, 23:52

PashaRu: haha. I mean I have also had a one and a four already. So I don't feel they never happen. haha. And frankly one worthy ratings seem far more likely nowadays with the surge of poorly edited self-published e-books. But still a lot of them end up in two land if the idea is at least promising.

Gali: haha. Well like... it doesn't have to change my life in a huge way. If it makes me see a new way of thinking or a new perspective I have never considered before... that is enough. Or if I really learned something... life lessons... just really touched me in some way where I have a permanent connection to the book, etc.
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#5 by gali
» 07 Jan 2015, 00:29

Skillian wrote: Gali: haha. Well like... it doesn't have to change my life in a huge way. If it makes me see a new way of thinking or a new perspective I have never considered before... that is enough. Or if I really learned something... life lessons... just really touched me in some way where I have a permanent connection to the book, etc.


Lol, I see. Well, if the book touched me in some way, I rate it 4 as well of course.
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Re: How do YOU score reviews? Your personal thoughts.

Post Number:#6 by Ryan
» 07 Jan 2015, 00:49

PashaRu wrote: What I REALLY wish is that we would change to a 5-point rating system instead of a 4-point one ("1" being horrible, "5" being fantastic.) It's only one more point, but for me it would make a huge difference. Sometimes I think a book should get a 2.5 or 3.5, but those ratings aren't available.


Yes! I've thought this for a while now.

Adding the extra star means that there is a rating available for those books which are not only above the average, but above the even the better ones. For example, a book might be tolerable but lack a great deal of technical skill and still receive 2*. The next option is 3*, which would put it above the average (according to the current rating system) and which may not necessarily be fair if we read another that's worthy of 4* (according to the current system) and is far superior. We therefore have to rate the book as 2 stars even though it's not bad enough to be a 1, or a 3 when it's not good enough to be a 4, but there are many books that are somewhere in between. My last (and first) review was given 3/4*, but all the time I kept thinking that it could not compare to a work I'd usually give 4/5*. So there's another realm of quality there and of course there will be others higher than this. It means that the writing is really being placed alongside authors of the highest quality and the rating is an accurate reflection of quality and not just how much a reviewer liked a book. (This can be considered, but it shouldn't be the deciding factor.)

Does anybody else get this? It was rather convoluted :oops: :)
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#7 by Skillian
» 07 Jan 2015, 02:13

Ryan I totally feel you on that one. I feel like with the lesser amount of stars to choose from we end up with a wider range of books having the same star level. So like a book that barely made 3 is still somehow in the same category of a book I just barely felt didn't deserve a 4. Which seems like a vast difference in my mind. But I guess that could happen in any scoring system... which is why reading the whole review like Gali said is soooo much more valuable than just looking at the score. A book can be a raved about 3 or a pretty good 3. So the comparison to a 5 star rating system.. potentially high 3 through 5 star rated books can end up with a 4 on a 4 star rating system. I don't even know if I'm making sense anymore. hahaha

Or like a book that is on the low end of Fair... but like I wouldn't burn it either.... like the deep depths of indifference... all the way up to the hey yeah that book was pretty OK it was a nice time passer.... all end up with a 2. So weird to me. But I mean... the more I spend thinking about it the more I'm gonna end up with like a 100000 star rating system where I specifically order all the books I've ever read in my life. hahaha

But I guess there are some good things about it too. It forces me to be more decisive. I have to really feel it deserves that 4... because there is a big jump between 3 and 4. There isn't that middle score I can lean on. And it is better for authors too... because I am less likely to give out a 1 score unless it is tragically horrible. So in a lot of ways it seems more efficient... and conducive to better reviewing.
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#8 by AKTuminello
» 07 Jan 2015, 16:34

I have not yet reviewed a book on this forum but here is my general guideline for previous reviews:

1: I demanded a refund or (barring that) actually physically destroyed the book. (Don't look at me like that, I see you over there.)
2: I read it, found it tolerable but wouldn't actively seek out other works by the same author.
3: I enjoyed the book and might read a sequel or other works by the same author if I didn't have anything more enjoyable to read.
4: I lost sleep because I couldn't put the book down and upon finishing the book, I immediately went on a quest for sequels/other writing.
4+ Dear God, why don't I have a time machine or why can't I be omnipotent to know every story about every one of these characters?

Things that are automatic detractors: bad grammar/editing, lack of development, lack of or too much description, the use of the word "orbs" to mean "eyes".
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#9 by Himmelslicht
» 07 Jan 2015, 17:12

I completely agree with you.
I mean, I can easily give 5 stars if I love the book really much in all its entirety.
But it's much harder for me to grant 1 star, because I REALLY have to despise the book. And so far I only did that to TWO books.
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#10 by AKTuminello
» 07 Jan 2015, 17:24

Himmelslicht wrote:I completely agree with you.
I mean, I can easily give 5 stars if I love the book really much in all its entirety.
But it's much harder for me to grant 1 star, because I REALLY have to despise the book. And so far I only did that to TWO books.



I have also done it to two books. One of which was by JK Rowling (don't hit me). Speaking of hitting....your post re: 50 Shades= 4+.

Wonderfully done.
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#11 by freelancer101
» 07 Jan 2015, 18:18

The rating of books is quite subjective and while rating one should keep one simple fact in mind... More than one books can be life changing and can be the best books for you. I don't hold one star back from a book just because it was not 'the best' book I have ever read.. If I really like a book, learn a lot from it and am totally engrossed in it then I will certainly give the book 4 stars. Surely there can be more than one 4 star books. All students securing A grades are between 90-100% and still why do they all have the same grade?
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#12 by Skillian
» 07 Jan 2015, 23:07

Great comparison freelancer! I personally believe that if too many students are getting an A then the curriculum isn't difficult enough. I also lean towards scales which require a 96% for the lowest A. I feel like if the highest ranking is being given out too freely it diminishes its value. And if we don't care enough to challenge people then why not just go to a pass or fail system? I think people would be extremely disappointed if OK books were thrown in with great ones. I don't think there is anything wrong with making a distinction between them. It is also kind of the point of reviewing at all.

I agree... it shouldn't just be one book ever that deserves the highest ranking... but it shouldn't be THAT many either. All relative of course. The more books a person reads the more life changing books they will probably come across, but then also far more lesser ranking books as well.

My issues with a four star rating system is that I personally believe that only about ten percent (at the very most) should be the worst or the best... which leaves eighty percent of the books to fall somewhere in the middle. Which is harder to divvy up without an exact middle... it should be a bell curve. With an even number system it splits it instead of allowing it.

So instead of a 5 star system where this can occur:
1: 10%
2: 25%
3: 30%
4: 25%
5: 10%

We have this odd:
1: 10%
2: 40%
3: 40%
4: 10%


So it really just leaves too much wiggle room within the 2 and 3 range for my liking. And trying to make each segment equal just irks me... because I don't think 25% of all books can be called great. That would be like a 75 C being an A! Possibly 25% of all books might be terrible... I just never get to see the majority of those books... so based on that thought... I also doubt that 25% of the books I actually choose to read will end up being that terrible. Especially if choosing from books that went through the usual routes of getting published... instead of self published.

So maybe furthering the grade point average consideration... if we did away with F's... maybe we will have something... considering nowadays a C average is needed in order to pass.. it works out well (if you consider all of the books that don't even make it to being published? hahaha)

1: 71% or less (Fail)
2: 72% to 81% (C)
3: 82% to 93% (B)
4: 94% or higher (A)


OK OK I might be reaching.. but it was still fun to think about.
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#13 by bookowlie
» 08 Jan 2015, 00:13

If I love or even really, really liked the book, I give it a 4, unless I find significant flaws. The problem I find is that some books fall in t he grey area between a 2 and a 3. I wish the rating system was 1 - 5.
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#14 by RussetDivinity
» 08 Jan 2015, 00:18

I tend to rate based on a gut feeling more than anything specific. (Maybe that's not the most professional approach, but then, that's how I go about reading things and deciding which books to keep, so I suppose I'm just working with what I know.) I know I've given out ratings that could easily have gone one star above or below, particularly when it came to books where the plot was solid but the writing itself was very shaky. If I were to have any sort of actual strategy for which books got which stars, it would probably be:

1: I couldn't stand it. Plot, characters, writing, whatever; at least one thing (possibly more) about the book was terrible.
2: It was all right. Not the best, but tolerable. If I got the chance to read it again, I would probably pass, but there were definitely some good points.
3: It was good. Not stellar, but I'd read it again. Some parts of it may have bothered me, but overall, it was worth reading.
4: It was great. It may not have blown me away completely, but I would be perfectly happy to buy a physical copy and have one on my bookshelf for numerous rereadings. Something about it made me fall in love, and I want to hold on to that part forever.
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Re: How do YOU rate books when reviewing? Your personal thou

Post Number:#15 by freelancer101
» 08 Jan 2015, 02:06

Skillian wrote:... it should be a bell curve. With an even number system it splits it instead of allowing it.

So instead of a 5 star system where this can occur:
1: 10%
2: 25%
3: 30%
4: 25%
5: 10%


Excellent rebuttal! ;). I appreciate your insight and the fierce need to be a brutal and honest critic. I agree with you for the most part. This Gaussian Bell Curve distribution is an excellent idea.. It certainly gives us enough room to rate book the way we want.. Neither too high nor too low.. But very fairly. Statisticians use it all the time, why can't we? If we rate the mean i.e., 50% or average as C and use 1 and 2 Standard Deviations (SD) above or below mean as other rating scales then the rating could be:

1. Below - 2 SD = F
2. Between -1 SD and - 2 SD = D
3. Between -1 SD and + 1 SD = Mean = C
4. Between +1 SD and + 2 SD = B
5. Above + 2 SD = A

I know I have complicated things but in simple words we need a 5 point scale not a 4 point scale. Or to make the criterion even more stringent we can further increase the points scale.
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