Friday, 14 February 2014

Book Ratings

So, I'm trying out a new rating system. I've always known that my ratings on Goodreads were probably overly generous. Especially since according to Goodreads 3 stars is "I liked it" and my 3 stars used to be "it was okay", which should be a Goodreads 2.

I decided to go back through my read books and tweak my ratings last weekend-ish. And aside from spamming the ever-loving hell out of everyone, I think I'm a lot happier with how things look on my Goodreads page now.

I ended up going with the Goodreads standard:

  • 1 star = I didn't like it
  • 2 stars = It was okay
  • 3 stars = I liked it
  • 4 stars = I really liked it
  • 5 stars = It was amazing
And I updated my page on here to reflect that... with a few more comments. You can check it out here if you want.

But all of that got me really thinking about book ratings in general. And how swayed or not I am by things like the Goodreads average.

When I'm out and about, at the library or bookstore, and I see a book that looks interesting but I otherwise know nothing about, I whip out my phone and open the Goodreads app. I'll check out the average rating and maybe scroll through a few of the top reviews just to see what people are saying. And sometimes that's enough. If the average rating is close to a 4, I'll probably add it to the (overflowing) tbr. If not, or if a review mentions something that would really put me off, I'll leave it be.

Still, it's interesting how wrong some of that information can be. Just for fun, I went through my read shelf and sorted it by average rating--to compare those numbers to my own ratings. The books ranked from 2.80 (Re:union by Eric Liu) up to 4.54 (Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning).

That alone was interesting. Re:union was definitely a free ebook I picked up out of sheer boredom, but liked it well enough (my rating was a 3). And while I liked the Fever series as a whole, I'd probably go back and re-rate most of the books 3 out of 5 if I could remember enough about them separately to do so. My Shadowfever rating is a 4, but is probably actually 3.5 based on my new system. It was good, but certainly not the be all end all that 4.54 would have you believe.

So, what about other books? Did my tastes match up pretty well with the overall Goodreads community? Surprisingly, it's not too bad. There are a few glaring differences though.

While I only have a few books that have low averages that I really enjoyed (Firestorm by LA Graf and The Serial Killers Club by Jeff Povey) it's more often a problem of books I could not stand having high ratings.

The Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Geir has an average over 4 stars and those books are just mediocre at best and irritating at worst for me. (I rated both books I've read 2 stars.)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling has almost a 4.40 average and that is the book that resulted in me falling out of love with Harry Potter. (My rating: 2.) So, yikes.

I've already complained excessively about Brent Weeks' Night Angel Trilogy in a previous post, but I actively disliked them (book 1 & 2 have 1 stars from me, and book 3 wasn't actually that bad but probably is at best a 2.5). All three books have over 4 stars for their averages.

And the book that booktube is certainly drooling over collectively, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin was another super miss for me. (My rating: 1 star.) I actually could not stand that book and ended up skimming a lot of it just waiting for it to get better or be over or something. Goodreads clocks it in at 4.12 average.

It's interesting, isn't it? How subjective reading tastes can be?

That said, I'm still probably going to use Goodreads averages as an initial sounding board for my choices. We're not often too far out of alignment. But this was an interesting analysis overall. It certainly made me think about rating systems in general.

What about you? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you find your tastes line up pretty well with others? Let me know!