goodreads stars & how i use them

I see a lot of things about reviewers on Goodreads who give reviews that are either 1 star or 5 stars, with little in-between, and whenever I read about reviewers like that, I always feel a little confused.

This is the exact opposite of how I rate books.

I like a nice bell curve.  Most of my reviews are 3 stars, because that’s an “average” rating.  Three stars means I liked the book… because, surprise!  I like to read, and I like books.  I like most things I read.  That’s normal right?  If I hated 50% of the things I read, I probably wouldn’t like to read so much.

It’s very rare that I absolutely HATE a book, and usually I can’t even say that I hated it.  Most of my 1-star reviews are for books that I couldn’t finish.  And sometimes even a favorite author will make that list (Stephen King, for Dreamcatcher).

Two stars, that means I could finish the book but didn’t particularly enjoy it.  A lot of school reading falls into this category.  Or sometimes I didn’t enjoy it, but can see the literary value.  Or sometimes it’s the rating version of “Meh.” (The official Goodreads description of a 2-star rating is “it was ok.”  Meh.)

When I give a book four stars on Goodreads, that’s a recommendation from me.  Usually I will rate a book 4 stars if I can imagine myself recommending the book to someone (as a librarian, I do this a lot!).  These are books that I think are well-written, that captured my attention, and especially series books that I am likely to continue reading.

Now, when I rate a book FIVE stars, that’s something rare.  (Almost as rare as 1 star!  Because I like my bell curve!).  Sometimes a book transports me into another world, where I think about the characters outside of the story, or maybe I imagine myself IN the story.  I’m emotionally invested, fully.  These things might also describe a 4-star book as well.  But I’d also re-read a 5-star book.  I hardly ever re-read anything.

Some of the books that I’ve given 5 stars to:

  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Twilight & Hunger Games series
  • The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice
  • A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt

Now, when I write reviews on Amazon (which I do very rarely), the rating scale slides a little bit.  Some of my 3-star reviews become 4-star reviews, because on Amazon, 3-star is “it was ok.”  Which I guess makes sense.  But I like my Goodreads bell curve 🙂

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