Wednesday Wonderings: Stars, or no stars?



Wednesday Wonderings: A chance for me to muse about anything and everything literature.

After much deliberation and hard work I have decided to start my very own tradition called Wednesday Wonderings. As the subheading describes, this will give me the opportunity to discuss literature and practices more broadly. If you would like to join me feel free to copy and paste the image above and pass along this tradition! Without further ado….

Over my three month period of blogging about books (say that 5 times fast!) I have come across some wonderful bloggers, who I now follow quite religiously. They all have unique personalities, which come across in their posts, and each one brings something new to my literary world.


YES, you are the BEST!

However, in each review there seems to be some common denominators. A photo of the novel is quite standard. Most include a short synapsis at some point in the post, and they end with either a recommendation or maybe a caution if they didn’t particularly like the book, explaining why it wasn’t their favourite. A rating system, either numeric or using another marking grid is either a yay or a nay in most.


Where are you going with this??

There are so many ways to structure a review. I am sure if you have been to Goodreads you would know! There are some that are snappy, to the point, and others that are more detailed, explaining every aspect of the novel. The decision to either include or exclude a rating system has always been of interest to me.


Personally I have always preferred to have a rating system, just because it clearly summed up the opinion of the reader. Yay, nay or meh. After glancing at that, I read the post to see their justifications for the rating. On WordPress, more people seem to be just detailing their opinion of the novel without putting giving the book a rating.

This way, people actually read the review instead of just scanning quickly over the rating assigned to the book. This way, it maintains a more professional look and feel, maybe? I know that certain books are difficult to class, or compare with other novels. Every once in a while I sit there thinking what number would I give this book, it’s got some good bits and some not so good bits. Where to draw the line between a three or a four? Are there defining lines?

I am not sure how I feel about ratings now. How to even start classing books? Anyway that’s my Wednesday Wonderings.


Why did you decide for/against ratings? How do you decide how to structure your reviews?

18 thoughts on “Wednesday Wonderings: Stars, or no stars?

  1. When I first started doing this book blogging thing, I rated the books that I read. But I stopped doing it because I just felt like it was too difficult to quantify my feelings on any book with stars. I do think that people just scroll through to get to the bottom line but most of the time, it’s not clear cut enough. On Goodreads, I star all my reviews, but I hate that there are no half stars. I also never add any comments to my Goodreads log. It’s more for me to keep track of what I’m reading.

    • This is amazing feedback, I completely agree about half stars. I really needed the half stars. Some books I can clearly say is either 5 or 2 but others I sort of wish I didn’t have to rate so I totally know what you mean. Sometimes I also look back and think really, why did I give that a 4, it should have been a 5. But then I have to acknowledge that in that moment that is how I felt about the book. Thanks for your feedback!

  2. I’ve only been blogging for about 9 months, but I have never rated books. I usually have such complex reactions to books that I wouldn’t be able to choose from 1-5 stars. Sometimes I prefer the narrative structure to the plot, or the character development to the language. I do think star ratings are useful at a glance, but most people write more nuanced reviews than a star rating can convey.

    • Yes, you brought up some great points. At the beginning I tried to structure my reviews with a paragraph for theme, characters, diction, etc but some novels emphasize one for the other and it became quite tedious. Letting it flow more naturally, and writing about things that stood out for you are a better way to go I would agree.
      Yeah, I think star ratings on their own can be rather ambiguous. I like people to actually tell me WHY they thought what they did.
      Thanks so much for the comment!

  3. I started out with a rating system, but I found it too restrictive. How much I like or dislike a book often depends on my mood or the circumstances I read them in, and as I read very different books, I was having difficulty deciding how many stars to give in relation to other books. I give a star on Goodreads, but on my blog, I just describe my reading experience. It currently works better for me that way.

    • Couldn’t agree more, some books I struggle with more than others. Especially if there is one element that I think to be revolutionary and brilliant while the rest of the novel might not be the best. It’s like I want to give you a 5 but compared to another book with say stronger characters I should give you a 3. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I may drop my rating system in the future….

  4. I started off without a rating systems but has incorporated one in.
    It’s a love hate relationship. I think it bad because some not all two start books are bad, not all four start books are the same as each other.
    But I like jt because it jogs my memory of how that book resonated with me at the time of reading. It is also vaguely helpful to people.
    If I follow someone who I know has the same tastes as me, if they give a book 5 stars, I’m very likely to just go and buy the book despite the review….. I’m a bit of a book horder! ;p
    it also provides an nice structure.
    I am in two minds.
    I do think people are more likely to read your blog if it has a rating, picture and a catchy name.

    • Oh, that’s neat you started using a rating system later on? A lot of the other people I have spoken to have said they started off with a rating system and then dropped it. Yeah I completely agree with you there, using a rating system does have it’s restrictions but it certain helps to organize my books. Like you said, at least it’s easier to remember how I felt about a certain book if I remember the rating I gave it 🙂

  5. I’m using a rating system with my own descriptions which is quite similiar to a 1-10 mark… It’s a bit more detailed than the simple 1-5 stars, but still leaves me without expressing my opinion properly with some books. Even so, I prefer using a rating system, just so it is easy for readers to get an instant idea of what kind of review they will face (possitive/negative etc.) I almost never hand out the full five stars though. Mostly because I think it is hard for a book to be completely perfect…

    As for my layout… Well, to be honest I don’t have an exact order or form for my reviews. I simply write how I felt about each book, mostly with my opinion first and a summary afterwards. I’m always honest about my opinions, and ramble away about what I think is interesting and/or important of a book. My reviews are never too long or ‘go deep’, but I consider them as a way for myself to be able to read back and refresh my thoughts of a particular book, and for others to get a glimpse of what the book is like. I preferred that over a literary analysis back when I first started It’s All About Books, mostly because I’ve had my fair share of literary analysis during Uni. 😉

    • That’s actually really clever, using 1-10, it gives you more opportunity to mark out what say a 3 versus a 7 mean, which would kind of be the same thing if you had a 1-5 rating.
      That’s a good point. Some people just do a synopsis of the book but that doesn’t tell me much. When I read a review I like to hear the persons opinion about the book not just read another summary 😛 I love reading your reviews, they have a perfect balance!

      • The star rating is not the perfect system, but I tend to use them more thinking of the descriptions I gave them than the actual mark… If that makes any sense hehe.
        And thanks! I never think of any structure before I start writing my reviews and just start blurting out how I felt about each book, so I’m glad my rambles make any sense. 😀

  6. I deliberately chose not to have star ratings because I feel, like many above me, that it’s a bit limiting/restrictive. It’s hard for me to quantify my enjoyment of a book in numbers, and even though I do rate books on Goodreads, I have a tremendously difficult time with it. Even now when I look at them I know some of them are rated either too high or too low (for example, a book that I liked more than another is somehow the same rating?!). It’s just so hard to get right! So I consciously decided to just highlight the things I liked and/or disliked about the book I was reviewing instead of using a rating system.

    Great topic! This is something that I think about quite a bit too 🙂

    • Yeah, that is the one thing I have really noticed myself doing. Looking back at some of my reviews, I’m like why did I give that book 4 stars, it didn’t resonate with me that much. But then I tell myself that in hindsight I may feel different about it, but at the moment in time, just after I have read it I thought it was that great, so the author’s writing must have been really good.
      Yeah rating system does seem to have it’s positives and negatives is the conclusion I have come to as well!

  7. I don’t review books all that often, but if I have a rating, I use it as shorthand in a brief review. And it also depends on my mood. I think if I was to religiously include a rating system it would have to be out of ten with half and quarter stars. A new thing I started with film reviews is when you should watch the film, which is another sort of rating for me.

    • That is such a great point about mood! I couldn’t agree more. So often I rate a book and then a month later I look at the review and thinks “wow it wasn’t that good why did I rate it so high?” simply because of my mood!
      Right you mean like a recommendation for a so and so mood? That’s actually really clever!!

      • Yeah, kind of like how you’ve got to listen to the right music that fits with what you’re feeling/the day. To boost badassery, I recommend Magneto’s theme from X-Men First Class!!

  8. I have never used numbered ratings, mainly because I agree with the comments that my opinion on a scale of 1 to 5, or 1 to 10, would so depend on my mood. I can imagine giving two or three different ratings on different days of the week. Also, I don’t want people who read my reviews to be swayed by an arbitrary number. I’m sure they can tell whether I liked a book, disliked it, or was indifferent from the tone. That’s what matters in my opinion.

    • I definitely agree that it can be hard to narrow down a feeling/opinion in a book by assigning it a number. Especially since a book can give you a variety of feelings during the course of the read. Thanks for your input!

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