This one is kind of fascinating for me, mainly because I have a limited understanding of how this one happened. I will say that I’m fairly certain the history of this does not come down entirely to books, though I suppose there’s a very strong likelihood that reading material was one of the first things that were ever rated. I suppose it might be interesting to look into the history of this someday for a future post.
Rating systems obviously aren’t massively controversial among reviewers. We don’t spend time arguing over whether we should use a rating of stars from 1-10 (like IMDB) or 1-5 (like Goodreads and almost everything else, tbh). We don’t develop a strong dislike for reviewers who use pointed ratings (e.g. 3.5) when they’re leaving their review. In fact, the most controversial piece of a rating merely arrives when someone hates our favorite book (because Godric forbid that ever happens! Dishonor!) or someone loves a book we find deeply problematic (-coughFiftyShadesofAbusecough-). But even with that, it’s a massively fascinating topic.
I mean, just think about this. We rate books, generally, on a scale of one to five foxes. 🦊🦊🦊🦊🦊 Well…I do, anyway. We don’t rate books on a scale of one to seven or one to twenty. It’s rare, but sometimes we do rate them from one to ten or one to four. And sometimes reviewers give half points, at which it’s honestly just like rating the book from one to ten because that’s the total number of options you have (0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, 5).
What causes such variation? Why do we differ in some areas, but not in others?
I think, ultimately, a good thing to note is simply that if everyone rates a book on a different scale system, it completely negates the entire purpose of a rating system. I’m part of a book club in which the books are rated on a scale of one to four and it honestly just drives me mad. I cannot stand their rating system and there are a couple of reasons for it. Firstly, a rating system of 1-4 offers no middle ground. It’s either on the good side or the bad side. The book is never okay, never potentially good but just probably not for me. I’ve often found myself changing my rating when I move my book club review over here and Goodreads because the 1-4 rating system is so lacking and restrictive to me. Those ratings almost never reflect my true feelings of the book. Secondly, it doesn’t match the ratings that anyone else uses. I don’t trust ratings from that site merely because they don’t match Goodreads. It just doesn’t work. It doesn’t even match Amazon. And finally, I just really hate the number four.
And a one to ten? Well, frankly that’s just too much. They have that on IMDB and I honestly just can’t stand it. My movie ratings are an absolute mess because I just can’t pick consistently between the options they offer. Perhaps in the most amusing form of rating system irony, however, I actually don’t mind the half point system that some reviewers subscribe to. I can see how it works. There have been so many times I’ve read books that aren’t quite a four but aren’t quite a three. And in those cases, I usually just go with the one I’m feeling most at the time and revisit it later to see if I want to change it (which I have, on occasion). I have never actually rated a book with a half point, though, and I think it’s partially just because it seems like a lot of work.
Plus, I’d never want to give someone half a fox!
So, in general, I like to stick to the system Goodreads follows. It’s clear, it’s something other readers fully understand. It gives me the ability to have a book in the middle, one that I’m more or less just really not ready to commit to the good or the bad side of ratings. And, perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t result in me giving someone half a fox.
What do you think about rating systems? Which ones do you like best? How do you currently rate books? Would you ever switch to a 1-10? Let me know in the comments or write your own post about ratings and tag me!
As always, happy reading everyone! You guys are the best.