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How to : Five Star Ratings?


lunababymoonchild
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This is inspired by the Not Many Five Stars This Year thread mainly, but I also see star ratings elsewhere and I'd like to know how they are achieved.

 

Obviously a five star book is better than a one star book but are the ratings achieved on technical merit, i.e. sentence structure, spelling, plotting, characterisation or purely on how much enjoyment the reader got out of the book? Or is it a bit of both? Does either depend on whether it's a professional or a personal review?

 

I don't read books that I don't enjoy so have trouble wondering about star reviews in general.

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I don't read books that I don't enjoy...
I do. Mainly because a book has to be really bad for e to give up on it. But also because I don't know in advance whether I am going to enjoy it.

 

Personally I award 5 stars for books that I have enjoyed. Technical merit is all very well but if the book wasn't enjoyable then it wouldn't warrant five stars. Having said that books that I have read many times don't tend to get repeat five stars. That is probably because there is a certain immediate impact that generates five stars that is lost on repeat readings.

 

I award my stars as follows:

5 outstanding

4 very good

3 good

2 OK

1 poor

0 rubbish (often abandoned)

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My ratings are applied on purely how I feel about the book overall - pleasure of reading, entertainment, writing style...

 

5 - outstanding, will remember it, stays on bookshelves forever!

4 - excellent, stays on shelves

3 - good not great, may or may not stay on shelf

2 - meh

1 - appalling, probably abandoned

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I'm glad someone else has shown scepticism about starry-eyed ratings. Of course the whole thing is bound to be subjective. Some will give a fiver for anything in sci-fi or crime, which others wouldn't touch with a ten-foot barge pole. Some like romance or adventure, with a fast-moving plot, while others prefer meditative and confused narrators, whose problems never get solved. Having said that, I find the star-inflation appended to tv and radio shows often quite misleading. Who would go for a three-star 'watchable' movie by an unknown director? But three stars is, according to common opinion pretty much 'good'. But the fiver should be kept for the really outstanding and memorable. On which point, how do you know in the enthusiasm of the moment when you review whether the thing will be 'memorable'?

 

On the whole I think it would be better if the star rating system were abandoned, or perhaps reduced to three. (Some even give half stars!)

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I think they give a general indication of the book's effect on the reader. Very general. After all I might award 3 stars for an ok Lee Child book, but I'll still love it and keep it, but just in the context of his other books, this particular one was not as good. The books are not only in the context of the other reads overall, but within the genre and author as well.

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I think star ratings are a helpful shorthand. I'd be surprised if anyone saw them as an objective quantification of quality, they're just a quick way of signalling approval or otherwise. Someone's entire review is just as subjective.

 

I think they're also helpful for the user, who can look back on their own book lists and quickly see the bouquets and brickbats for their own reading.

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It's obvious that to achieve full marks a book has to have special qualities. At the very least, it needs to do everything well: plot, characterisation, writing style, and do it in a totally engaging way. It also needs to be hard to put down.

 

I give plenty of books 4 stars because I can see they're good novels but for me they are missing that certain something.

 

3 goes to average, pleasant pass the time reads.

 

2 stars means flawed in the sense of, for example, having a major plot hole or unnecessarily showy writing but has a few saving graces.

 

1 deserves to be thrown across the room with force and I'd actively steer people away from it.

 

I've never given a book no stars at all, but I dread the day I find such a book.

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5 = books I can't put down, I sneak a read whenever I can, I am late into work just so I can read over a cuppa in the starbucks round the corner and I take the bus to meetings. 5's have me telling the world and his wife how amazing they were and often I know they will become comforting on my sleepless nights.

 

4 = Warm, clever books that hold my interest and suck me into the narrative. I will read them over flicking through the TV channels or in the case of Dickens I will set aside proper time to focus on only that book. My special re-reads end up in here

 

3 = I like them, they are easy to read and enjoy OR they involve concentration to read for long periods but are still enjoyable to escape into. A lot of old friends also get 3 ratings because the initial magic is lost but I still enjoy the book

 

2 = I like Hazels meh as a description. These books for me were not up to scratch usually authors i know and it's just a poor book by them. Sometimes it's just a bad pick by me, or someone lent me the book

 

1 = No effort to read, no interest in what happens, or a rubbish ending. I don't think i really give ones, as I'm more likely to stop reading and then they don't make the list.

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On the whole I think it would be better if the star rating system were abandoned, or perhaps reduced to three. (Some even give half stars!)

 

Star ratings on BGO are only 'awarded' on the Book Lists thread, which is there for members to keep a list of which books they have read during the year. Any 'star' ratings are there as a reminder of how they enjoyed the book at that time, and are awarded according to their own private criteria. We do not use stars to rate books in the various discussion threads

I don't think we can tell members to 'abandon' star ratings in their own book lists if they find them helpful.

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Star ratings on BGO are only 'awarded' on the Book Lists thread, which is there for members to keep a list of which books they have read during the year. Any 'star' ratings are there as a reminder of how they enjoyed the book at that time, and are awarded according to their own private criteria.
Exactly. I thought that was why nonsuch was asking. Sorry, nonsuch I didn't realise that you meant generally in reviews. But I don't think I was the only one. I think we were all giving our personal rating system.
We do not use stars to rate books in the various discussion threads.
I'll hold my hand up to that one. I have, once or twice, stated at the end of a review that a book was worth five stars. It's lazy I know.
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Star ratings on BGO are only 'awarded' on the Book Lists thread.

Well, in fact several members do use star ratings at the end of their reviews and I honestly see nothing wrong with that.

 

I don't see how this can be controversial - if someone's not interested in star ratings or thinks they're meaningless then just ignore them!

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I'm glad someone else has shown scepticism about starry-eyed ratings.
How can you be sceptical about someone else's subjective opinion? Some people choose to do it, some don't but I don't think anyone takes them too seriously, do they?

 

I use them on a sliding scale where 5 means I really enjoyed the book, going down to 1, meaning I didn't enjoy it at all. Hope that helps.

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Star ratings are helpful for me because while a single review may be somewhat useless, by the time someone has rated just 3 or 4 books similarly to me, I can use their other ratings on books I haven't yet read and trust that we seem to have similar taste. I love threads on here on top 5 books etc, because once they have a couple I agree with, I'm more likely to seek out the others.

Basically you can use ratings to find others whose opinion you trust. Hope all that makes sense!

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Well, - if someone's not interested in star ratings or thinks they're meaningless then just ignore them!

 

Or know your reviewer. The review is the important thing of course, not the star rating. However, there's such a range of reasons given in this thread for awarding stars, one contributor even giving one star to a trashy book, that one wonders how useful 'the star system' really is. The top range seems generally favoured too. Whatever happened to the Curve of Normal Distribution? There seems to be a general trend (not only on BGO of course) to give 'marks' or stars to reward effort - the fact of having put together a book at all. That seems crazy to me. We're perhaps all wanting to be too nice, and quality is, very subtly, being downgraded - qv GCSE and A-level grade inflation and the annual moan about the number of 'outstandings.'

 

OK, I know I'm on my own here and this blog probably belongs on the 'Have a Rant' thread. If it makes people happy why not let them play Santa - especially at this time of year. (Yours grumpily, Scrooge)

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Whatever happened to the Curve of Normal Distribution? There seems to be a general trend (not only on BGO of course) to give 'marks' or stars to reward effort
I use my powers of choice to try to filter out (what I consider might be) the lower star books before I decide what to read. As a result, I enjoy the majority of the books I read, so they get three stars or more.
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I use my powers of choice to try to filter out (what I consider might be) the lower star books before I decide what to read. As a result, I enjoy the majority of the books I read, so they get three stars or more.

Yep. Nonsuch, it's self-evident, surely, if not downright bleedin' obvious people here tend to think hard about what they are going to read because it's...you know, important to them.

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