Book Ratings: What’s Your Criteria?

Today’s post is a quick barfing of my thoughts on Amazon’s five star rating system, specifically when it applies to books.

I’ve finished a handful of books recently, and each time I go to review one of them on Amazon or Goodreads, I feel so limited by the five-star system. How can 1-5 stars accurately represent my reaction to something as complex as a novel, a novella, or even a short story?

I don’t think it can. I would much rather work with a 1-10 star system. I know Amazon will probably never do that, because, on a base level, their review system works. It’s just frustrating sometimes.

Here’s the criteria I follow when deciding how many stars to give a book I’ve recently read:


One star reviews are harsh. I’ve never actually given a book a one star review before. To me, one star books are those that lack any sense of objective creative dignity. In other words, if I feel the author put any sort of effort into their product, I’ll be very reluctant to give it a one star rating.


I assign two star ratings to 99% of the books I simply don’t enjoy (I try to be objective. If I don’t enjoy a book for purely subjective reasons, I probably won’t bother reviewing it). My motives for giving a book two stars include consistently poor editing, subpar plot or character development, or if it’s just a boring story.


Three star ratings are where I have the most issues, because I feel there should be a much bigger gap between two stars and three stars. To me, three stars mean I liked the book. I finished it and I was entertained. Maybe there were a few mistakes, and maybe it wasn’t my favorite book ever, but there were no glaring faults to make me quit.

I think writers generally get discouraged by three star ratings because they’re perceived negatively. But for a bit of perspective, on a ten star rating system, these books would earn 6-7 stars from me. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?


For the aforementioned reasons, I generally skip straight to four star ratings if I like a book (a ten star system would give me a lot more flexibility, though).

Four star books are properly constructed and edited, and they rise above the base entertainment factor. Maybe there’s a character I really like, or a plot twist that caught me by surprise, or a subplot I was genuinely engaged in. They may not be perfect: a few typos here and there, or the occasional weak character or plot point. Those are all relatively minor issues that I can overlook as long as the main plot and the protagonist keep me turning pages.


I give books five stars quite rarely. For a book to get five stars, it has to meet all the qualifications of a four star book (see above), but it also has to impact me. That’s the determining factor for me. Impact. Whether it’s emotionally, intellectually, or personally, a story has to really hit me hard for me to give it a full five stars.

I know rating books is an incredibly subjective process. I’m definitely not saying my criteria should be the rule.

How do you decide how many stars to give a book? Is your thought process similar to mine? Totally different? Let me know in the comments!

In the meantime, have a great Monday.



11 thoughts on “Book Ratings: What’s Your Criteria?

  1. I rate books on a level of how true is the moral? Is the book my reading level? How much stuff is pointless? Is the book gripping? This is how I rate the books I read. By the way, LIKE!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nice post! I think I follow a basic principle when rating a book. Did it entertain me? Was the plot good and consistent. Were the characters relatable. That sort of thing. If I feel a story deserves a one star, I don’t review at all. Three stars for is a sort of, meh, rating. Good but not great. Four stars, I think I’m like you on that score and five stars is rare for me, but usually means that the book was awesome 😊


      1. I haven’t come across many one-star books, but those I have, I kind of pondered writing the review, but in the end thought, no, I’ll just leave it. I guess, it’s because I don’t want to sound like some sort of ranting troll!! :O

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I find if I begin a book and it is clearly not worth reading, then I stop before the end of the first chapter. Consequently I won’t review it at all. One star books don’t make it to the review stage. Two stars, Why bother? The negative would far outweigh any constructive criticism. I could offer.
    Three stars, I agree these are viewed negatively, however if I find a book that despite editing faults still has a well constructed plot, and at least one character that lures me further, then three is the rank I give.
    Four Stars …It needs to check most of my boxes.’ll only rank it down to a four instead of a five, if I find the pacing slow. or the ending doesn’t tie up the loose ends. (Unless it’s a book within a series with more to follow)
    Five star …it needs to cover all my needs when reading, well paced, provocative characters that stand out from the crowd, and a well constructed and well researched plot. It’s a joy to read and review books, Yet it is a responsibility as well. I don’t take it lightly, as a reviewer and an author.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I honestly don’t usually go below 3 stars. Most of the stuff I read is 3 stars or better. I’ve come across a few twos or ones, but those I rarely leave ratings for. Mostly because I don’t finish reading them. I can’t really criticize a book I didn’t finish. To give something a four or five star rating it simply needs to do what it promises in the description for me to justify that rating. If you promise scares and you give them to me, that’s all I ask for.


  5. I feel that there should be half stars because that’s how I rate books.

    1 – Absolutely Rubbish

    1 1/2 – Fairly rubbish and would not recommend

    2 – Bad but not extremely

    2 1/2 – (Never rated a book like this soo)

    3 – Okay

    3 1/2 – Pretty darn good


    4 1/2 – (Can a book be good enough to be four and a half?)

    5 – (PSYCHE! As if I would rate a book five stars ;P)

    Liked by 1 person

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