Rating books is always a bit subjective. Not everyone interprets the 5 star rating system the same (and there are plenty of people who don’t use it). The 5 stars is pretty easy as those are books you loved. You’d say the 1 star is the same but there is discussion on rating books you did not finish (which I personally think is up to everyone’s own judgement really).
This year I had a few 3 star ratings and had a few reactions along the line of ‘I am sorry you disliked this‘ or ‘I am sorry you did not enjoy this‘. It sparked with me the feeling of wonder because I did not recall rating the book that low and then when I checked it was 3 stars. And I started wondering when we started seeing 3 stars rating as something negative for a book.
When I hold the 5 star rating to how I got my grades back in college (from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest, 10 the highest and 5,5 being a passing grade) a 3 star rating might not be stellar but it certainly gets a passing grade.
1 star = 2 / 2 stars = 4 / 3 stars = 6 / 4 stars = 8 / 5 stars = 10
Getting a 6 (and I got a lot of those at some point in my life) is certainly not a bad thing. I know we all would like the books that we read or for authors the books that they worked so hard on, be 4 or 5 star ratings. But not every book can be outstanding to us. Sometimes books are just average. And that is okay. It doesn’t make it a negative rating in the sense that the book sucked.
Average means that it didn’t stand out but that it wasn’t a bad book either. It doesn’t mean dislike the book or that there was no enjoyment.
How Does That Work For Me?
Honestly I fall into the trap of perceiving 3 stars as a negative thing as well when I see others rating books 3 stars. Seeing a lot of 3 star ratings for a book I am anticipating makes me apprehensive to pick it up. Yet when I look closely at my own rating system I see 3 stars as an average rating the way that I mentioned above.
Often to me 3 star reads are either:
- Books that I had high expectations of that were not met
- Books that were not for me character or plot wise but still well written that I can other see really liking.
- I enjoyed reading it but it did not stand out.
I realize that when I see other people’s 3 star ratings I automatically assume that it is the first. That people are dissapointed or didn’t enjoy a book. This is a perception I’d like to change for myself.
When it comes down to it I still often recommend books that are 3 star reads for me because I realize very well that what doesn’t nessecarily work for me can easily work for someone else. So why should I be held back from picking up a book because I see it getting a lot of 3 star reads?