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 :)