Discussion: Low Ratings & Guilt

Let’s discuss the rating system.

I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve sat down to write a post. Everything is really stressful right now, exams are in full swing and I can’t find the time for anything. Which unfortunately includes reading. So why not do a discussion? This time, it’s all about how we rate the books and how the rating system sometimes doesn’t work and also about rating guilt. Yup it’s a thing. Fun stuff ahead!

The Rating System

Do you rate your books? I do. Ever since I started using Goodreads (which I love) ages ago, I have rated every single book I reviewed. And sure, the 5 star system isn’t differentiated enough, but there’s always the option of using half star ratings for your own benefit. And it works for me. Except when it doesn’t. 

At times, I really struggle a lot with how to rate a book. Do I rate it on gut feeling alone? Or do I take into consideration every thing I caught that irked me or rubbed me the wrong way? Do I take into account previous books if it’s a series, or do I base my rating on that book alone? It’s hard. It’s hard to sum up so many thoughts and emotions into a 5 star grade. That’s why reviews really help. When I write out a review, it helps me form a sort of rating within the 5 star rating system.

There are three main reasons why I would have trouble rating a book:

  1.  Everyone loved it, and I didn’t.
  2. It’s by an author I usually love, and I didn’t like it
  3. It’s important, but didn’t work for me

All of these lead to…


I feel guilty when I rate a book a certain way. That sounds dramatic, but you know what I mean. It just feels wrong to me rating a book a certain way, but that’s the way it is.

Exhibit A: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Everyone loves this. Truly. So when I finished it, I was like what do I do now? How do I rate this? It has such high ratings – it must be me! So I proceeded to give it two stars. And I know, that’s not high, but I was well aware that that is a one star read for me. Sorry. But it was. And I upped my rating because I wanted to fit in!!! Kidding. I just kept looking for redeemable qualities about it, something to grasp so I can say, yeah I get why people like it. I settled on Chaol, but that so far fetched. I liked him, but he alone wasn’t even that amazing to drive the whole book.

Exhibit B: The Cursed Child by whoever (it really wasn’t by J.K. Rowling) 

The most hyped book ever. I never do preorders but with this I had it preordered the same day it became available. I think I cried when I heard it was happening. And then I read it. And let’s be real, I hated it. But I could not for the love of me rate it. I couldn’t detach myself from the story I knew so well and a writer whose story I know so well. And the book was so manipulative in playing with your emotions and sentimentality, so I couldn’t discern my feelings for Harry Potter from my feelings for The Cursed Child. But it’s a one star read.

Exhibit C: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Now, this is the most difficult one. I read this back when the hype was huge. It was everywhere. Everyone was crying about it, and everyone, everyone was saying how this was super important. How we have this character who is quadriplegic and we don’t see that enough. And that’s completely true. However, when I read this I felt there was something wrong with the book. I felt it was very problematic at times. Yet, I know nothing about the topic, and everyone was like this is important, so I thought again it’s me, not you. So I didn’t rate it. I have since changed that to 1 star because I realized I was right and it is problematic. If you’d like to see a post about that let me know in the comments below.

So all of these led to me feeling guilty about giving a book a low rating. However, I’ve been working on that. The truth is, every review is subjective. If I feel there’s something that’s not working for me, or there’s something that’s not working period, I have the right to say what it is. And people might feel differently, but that’s what’s great about books. We can all have an entirely different experience with them. And we can continue to talk about the stuff that aren’t so great and that should be discussed. Like problematic content.

SO that’s all for this post from me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic? Do you rate books? How? Do you feel the dreaded rating guilt? Let’s talk in the comments!


Come hang out with me:

Follow me on Bloglovin’ | Goodreads | Tumblr | Books Amino | Twitter | Instagram

*Above used Book Depository links are affiliate links which means I get a small commission if you buy a book through my link, which helps me out a lot!

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository


11 thoughts on “Discussion: Low Ratings & Guilt

  1. I honestly feel the same way. I did NOT like The Selection, but everyone I knew including my best friend loved it. I ended up giving it three stars when I originally reviewed it back in 2015. It wasn’t until this week actually that I was able to give it a one star because I honestly didn’t care what other people thought. I was a very scared 18 year old at the time who didn’t want to make the whole book community mad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is exactly where I was going with this post! And most times it’s not even that you’re scared of judgement, it’s just that you’re constantly exposed to people who love it, so you end up thinking it can’t possibly be that bad. And it can 😂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I tried SO hard to like The Selection, but I just wanted to smack my head against the wall. It feels good to not be as worried what others think. I mean I still have moments where I feel weird liking a book my friend hated and vice versa.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely HATE giving somebody a low rating! I can only imagine how much blood, sweat and tears that were poured into it. However, I take reviewing very seriously and I feel like I have to be honest. Usually when I do rate a book under 3 stars, I’ll encourage my followers to read other reviews on sites like Goodreads, especially if everyone else seems to like it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally feel that! Especially when it’s a book that doesn’t have many reviews or it’s by an indie author or something! And that’s great, I feel like you can never stress enough that there are other ways of looking at a particular book, and it’s just your point of view!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t like giving a low rating either and I feel especially guilty if I got a free copy from a publisher or author but I really do my best to be honest. You’ll certainly know so when I didn’t like a novel and I don’t conform to other opinions (I didn’t especially like The Breakdown and I hated See What I Have Done). I appreciate blogs that give star ratings more because I feel others are not always totally honest either even without star ratings, they write a review that when I read it, it could mean a four or four and a half stars and when you see their rating on Goodreads it’s 3 stars, which is still a good read but nothing exceptional. It’s a difficult topic and we each have to find our own path to be as truthful as we can…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree! It’s especially interesting when you think about how different a review and a star rating can be. There are some reviews that are very critical and then you see a 3 star rating, or vice versa, there’s a really great review, but again a 3 star rating. And yes, ARCs are an especially difficult thing to review, but I found that the more ARCs I got, I was less worried about my ratings.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel like no matter what, I’m honest with myself regarding star ratings. Like, for instance, when I got an e-ARC of The Love Interest, I was so excited, but once I finished it, I felt so disappointed. I wanted to give it five stars, but then realized it was pretty meh, so I lowered it to 3 stars (even though it hurt me to do so). I change my mind about ratings sometimes, which I’m totally okay with most of the time!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.