In Regan’s video, she said that she base her ratings on two things: expectation and the book’s intent (watch her video for further explanation).
I agree with her 100 %. Not all books need to be literary masterpieces that make question everything about life. A cute summer romance book can deserve five stars simply because it made you happy, which was exactly what both you and the book wanted. So, I definitely have these things in mind whenever I’m about to rate a book, as well as many other factors such as writing etc. It is, however, not the main thing I base my ratings on in the end. Not the thing that tips the book one way or another. So, what is?
First of all, I have to say that I suspect I’m pretty high in my ratings. My, I guess, standard rating is four stars, meaning that if I enjoyed it and didn’t have any bigger problems with it, I will give it four stars.
Three stars on the other hand, is a pretty low rating in my opinion. To me, three stars is not “I liked it”, even though that’s what Goodreads tries to convince me it is (I know this doesn’t really make sense, but it’s how I think). I sometimes ask myself, if a book had a lot of three star ratings, would I want to read it? The answer to that is almost always no. Therefore, before giving a book three stars, I ponder whether or not I actually want to, well, discourage people who think like me from reading it. Was it really that bad? Most of the time the answer to that question is no, and a book has to have some bigger flaw or annoyance if I’m to give it three stars.
Two and one star-ratings are extremely rare for me, and I only give them if I straight up disliked it − if I feel like I have wasted my time, or if I eye-rolled my way through half of it. If I give a book one or two stars, then no, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
I have handed out 29 five-star ratings on Goodreads this past year (though some of them were really 4.5), which might tell you that I’m not really holding on to the stars like I would water in the desert. Like I mentioned earlier, a book doesn’t have to be a masterpiece for me to give it five stars, and it doesn’t have to change the way I think about the world.
However, a five-star book should be able to pull me in. It should be able to make me laugh and cry with the characters. It should be gnawing at my brain every time I put it down, demanding me to pick it right back up again, and after I’m finished, it should make me go straight to the tag on tumblr, or read reviews on Goodreads. It should make me want to tell the world about it, scream it from the rooftops. It should make me want to recommend it to my friends, and if you’ve been here before, you might know how serious that is. Getting my friends to read the books I want them to read is a freaking committment,
So, in other words, I rate books on their ability to engage me. On their ability to sneak themself into my ordinary life after I’ve put it down. It’s as simple as that. :)