Too harsh rating books?

For me, rating a book can be a very hard task. Sometimes I finish a novel and I immediately know how many stars I think it deserves. But, more often than not, I have to spend a few hours or days mulling over it. Over at my Review Policy you can check out my star rating system, which is fairly simple and based on the one provided by Goodreads. My problem is that I overthink it. I always think that my rating has to convey perfectly how I felt about a book. This is obviously impossible and where reviews come in handy, but star ratings are the quickest way to see if people have a similar reading taste.

Because of that, I prefer being overly critical and tend to be a bit harsh rating books. Over at Goodreads I have an average rating of 3.12. I decided to look at other people’s average rating and found that I had the lowest number, as I suspected. The lowest I saw from almost 20 people was 3.40! I’ve been meaning to change the way I rate and I thought it would be of great help for me to have this discussion post, so join me and let’s talk about rating books.


Imagine a good novel. Not a mind-blowing novel, but one that you very much enjoyed and would recommend to others. Do you have one in mind? The book you are thinking about has something, no matter how small it is, that you wish were different. That little something could be silly, a personal preference, or it could be a bigger issue, like an inaccurate and stereotypical representation. But overall the book is good, right? Did you give it a five-star or a four-star rating?

For me, that would be a four star or a three star rating.

Let me try to explain the reasoning behind my harsh ratings. If I give a book 5 stars, I’m saying I stand behind its writing and content 100%. If there’s something I’m not sure about, I reduce a star – no matter how small the detail is. It’s incredible that I even have 5-star-rated books! Well… I actually only have 15 in Goodreads and some are not even books, they are short stories.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been really unfair and harsh when it comes to rating. Some of my favorite books are ones I gave only 4 stars to! This happens because I overthink it and because I’m afraid people will judge me if they read one of my 5-star-rated books and find something they’re not happy about. This, I know, is utterly ridiculous. We review and rate as we please, for ourselves, to keep track and to share our opinions. Clearly, not everyone is going to agree! By being overly critical, I try to please other people’s criticism of a book.


I know a lot of people rate books by two main standards: emotionally and critically. Maybe a book wasn’t a masterpiece, but to you it meant the world so you happily gave it 5 stars. I’ve never rated a book like that! NEVER. I’m always on the critical side of the scale. Overanalyzing is a big problem for me and sometimes it sucks the fun out of rating and reviewing (which is a topic for another time). I think a balance between the two styles would work best, but I guess that depends on our personal preferences.

Since I started blogging and reviewing books regularly, I’ve decided to stop being so harsh and start rating them accordingly to what I experienced as much as critically. It can be hard, but I think it’s worth it to make the task of rating, and consequently reviewing, a lot easier!

Do you rate harshly too? Is your rating emotional, critical or balanced? Share your Goodreads average rating!

64 thoughts on “Too harsh rating books?

  1. Hello,
    I would like to have a bigger number of followers in order to write more posts.
    Your blog looks awesome; I followed you.
    Would you like to check mine and maybe click on the follow button you’ll fine there 🙂 ?
    Thank you.

    my rating is emotional I think, if I understand what a character is going through because I have been there, the book instantly becomes one of my favourites and it gets 5 stars. If I like a character, but do not agree with them at some point, it becomes a four…..


    1. Your comment got into my spam folder, so I hadn’t seen it! If you work hard on you blog, the followers will come,focus on putting out content you enjoy 😉
      That’s an interesting way to do it. Sometimes I don’t like what a character does, but I still love the story overall, so I still give it 5 stars. It depends on many many things, but in the end the whole book has to speak to me somehow for me to adore it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually just did a post on this too! I’m afraid that I also rate books too harshly since I rarely ever give 5 stars and expect 5 star books to be perfect. I agree that even if I love a book, I end up deducting at least half a star (I use half stars on my blog and just round them up on GR and Amazon) if there’s anything wrong with it that actually bothers me or that I think is significant enough to be considered a flaw. Like, if it has instalove but the instalove doesn’t end up bothering me at all, then it can still get 5 stars. But I don’t know. Even my favorite series has all 4.5 and 4 star ratings from me even though I completely love it simply because I found some sort of flaw in each individual book, so I get you. I think I want to try and be more lenient on those books that I just love even if they have a flaw or too.

    Here’s my post if you wanna check it out 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t think giving low ratings to many books is a bad thing. Everyone’s rating system is different anyway!
    I LOVE your blog by the way! How do you make your graphics?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would like to say I’m a critical reader, but I am not.
    Not everybook I read is 5 or 4 stars, but most of them are 4 stars. 3 stars are for a good book too, and then go 2 and 1 stars for books I don’t think are good.
    Lately, I’m trying to be more critical because I’m trying to “read as writer would” but in all honesty – I know I am not critical, at least not as much as I wish I’d be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Read as a writer”, that’s really really interesting. It gives you a whole different perspective. If I look at it that way, I read emotionally rather than critically but then rate critically rather than emotionally, which seems to make no sense now that I write it down lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I rate the same way! If I found even just the smallest of problems in a book, it’s automatically disqualified for a five star rating for me. So I don’t think you’re too harsh with your rating, haha. I do agree that five stars mean that the book is perfect for you as it is.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha that’s good for you 🙂 I used to be afraid of writing a review of a book I didn’t like that much. Rating it poorly in Goodreads is one thing, but actually having to explain why sucks the life out of me. I keep thinking how it would make the author feel, etc. Haha

        Liked by 1 person

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