June 28, 2009

I'm a Tough Critic when It Comes to Stars

I've gotten to the point where I'm reading at least a book a week and realized something- I'm a tough critic when it comes to giving out stars. I started reviewing books back in February 2008, I've only given out five "5-star" reviews. I've given out plenty of 4's and 3's, but 5's are hard to come by. I don't know if it's the books I'm reading or just me being tough, but looking back I still agree with my ratings. I'm sure we all do this differently, but here's how I rank my books.

  • 5 stars- the book was amazing, well-written, and I could recommend it to anyone (assuming they would be interested in the subject matter). These are the books I will remember when I'm trying to give someone a good book recommendation.
  • 4 stars- The book was really good, well-written but may have had a few things in it (e.g., sex, language, other subject matter) that I would have to warn about before recommending. Or maybe the book was just great and not amazing.
  • 3 stars- The book was well-written and a good story, but it wasn't anything new. A plot or idea I've seen again and again, forgettable. These are also the books that have potential but are just poorly written either due to lack of editing or an author's language barrier.
  • 2 stars- The book was okay, not something I would ever read again. This also includes any books that I couldn't feel good recommending to anyone because of the amount of sex, language, violence, etc.
  • 1 star- The book was poorly written, not interesting, or lacked some other major component I consider a part of good writing.

Most books fall somewhere in between 3-4 stars as most books I read are at least enjoyable and decently written. There are only a few that hit the two extremes of being what I would call amazing or horrible. How do you rank your reviews?


  1. My only real difference is that I will rank a book five stars if I think it was amazing, whether it has universal appeal or not. I've been doing a lot of five star reviews lately because I've been very picky about what I choose to read. I've been looking at recommended book lists and such and putting them on hold at the library. So I haven't come across much drivel lately. An odd side effect of that is that now I find myself wanting drivel. My brain needs a break from the heavy lifting.

  2. I think that I'm a pretty tough critic, too. There are a couple really amazing books that I've read lately that I wasn't quite willing to give them 5 stars as there was something small that held me back. My review of Special Topics of Calamity Physics is a good example of this...I really enjoyed it, thought it was well written, but I couldn't determine if the gimic of it was just too much or not (I'm leaning more towards not). That hesitation held it back. If I give a book 5 stars, it's because I have no reservations about the book whatsoever.


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