Rating books is probably one of the most complicated tasks us book bloggers and reviewers do.
Some people use stars, or stars-inspired rating to, just like on Goodreads, rate their books from 0 to 5. Some other choose to avoid the struggle of having to fit a book in this very rating system and, instead, decide to write their review and say whether or not they recommend it (like the incredible new blog by the lovely CW, The Quiet Pond). I personally fall in the first category, rating my books with rain and hurricanes.
There are so, so many different elements in each book and so many elements to take into account before giving out the final sentence. Will this book really blow my mind? What does this book has, that really made me scream and shove it at everyone’s face? On the contrary, what made me want to throw this book out the window in frustration?
Today, I’m revealing it all. THE ultimate system I use to rate my books, what influences my rating the most, what influences me the less, where YOU fit in (yes, you reading this, because you’re fitting in it all, too) and more.
This is a completely approximate and flawed system. Just so you know.
I. The characters 👭👬
📊 Rating influence: 100% in contemporaries & fantasies and everything.
It’s not a secret that I ADORE characters, they are honestly what makes and breaks a book, for me. It may be because I also am a huge contemporary reader that I pay so much attention to them, but I do. If I can relate to a character, that’s a win. If I can’t relate, but still understand and feel for the character, that’s a win. If I’m not, in any way, rooting for a character, even if they’re anti-heroes, well…. I’m sad and that influences my rating a LOT.
II. a. The world-building & setting 🏙
📊 Rating influence: 20% in contemporary – 60% in fantasy/sci-fi.
I admire writers able to make their books come alive with an incredible world-building SO much. They’re the ones transporting you elsewhere in the matter of a few words and I love that SO much. The world-building and characters have different percentages and influences, whether I’m reading a contemporary or a fantasy/sci-fi book. It matters more when I’m reading a fantasy/sci-fi, obviously, I don’t need much world-building in a contemporary to adore it.
II. b. The plot & development 🔎
📊 Rating influence: 70% in contemporaries – 50% in fantasies etc.
In contemporary, since it’s so character-focused, I’m looking for growth, development and to just SQUEEZE my favorite characters out of love. In other genres, though, especially fantasy, sci-fi, mysteries, I’m always looking forward to a well-constructed plot, unpredictable at times, leaving me breathless, suspenseful, gripping and answering all of my questions, too.
(also that approximative % is because, well… I’m a contemporary reader.
II. c. The pacing 🏃
📊 Rating influence: 10%
The pacing of a story might depend a lot on the plot and how it’s flowing, how the author manages to create suspense through it all and how it grows and evolves. It also depends on the writing style, sometimes, because when an author has a beautiful, flowery writing style, sometimes the story flows a little slower. Thing is: no matter what the pacing depends off, it has to captivate me, in some ways. If it starts out slow, it has to gradually quicken to keep me interested. If it starts fast, it has to keep my attention .
III. The writing style 🖋
📊 Rating influence: 100% in contemporaries & fantasies & everything.
The writing style matters a lot whenever I’m reading a book, because it’s what allows me to really get into a character’s mind, a world, a story. I tend to be a fan of beautiful, transporting writing style, even a little flowery at times, as some would call it. Sometimes, a writing isn’t too remarkable, but if I am transported enough by the characters and world-building, it can be good. But if I’m not feeling the writing to get me into a story, well… boo.
IV. a. The personal situation 💞
📊 Rating influence: 10%
Now I’m getting into the weirder part of the rating system, which is…. yes, my personal situation at the moment of my reading.
There are books that wouldn’t have been 5-stars read if I didn’t read them at the right time, in the right headspace, exactly feeling these kind of books at that very moment. So, yeah… that can almost turn everything around.
IV. b. The community & other reviews 💻
📊 Rating influence: this depends on the book.
YES, this. YOU. I’m not going to pretend that being a book blogger doesn’t influence my rating and my reading, because it does and it has, A LOT. Obviously. When you’re hearing about popular, potentially INCREDIBLE book and everyone is raving about it…. you get in with certain expectations. You might even want to rate it 5-stars, because everyone did, too.
I know I did.
IV. c. The feelings ❤️
📊 Rating influence: this can change everything.
This is probably what influences me… the most, with the characters, whenever I’m thinking back on a book. What do I mean, exactly, by feelings? Well. I’m talking about a book making me CRY. A book making me angry. A book making me FEEL THINGS. Everything.
Confession time: I’m 200% more likely to put 5 stars to a book that made me sob like a baby, because, well… it touched me deeply enough for me to cry.
So… that’s what my rating system would look like… in a nutshell.
II. a. World-building & setting
b. Plot & development
III. Writing Style
IV. a. Personal Situation
b. The Community & reviews
c. The Feelings
Then you get like a rating on 400 that you divide by 4. Or something like that. Maybe.
It seems WAY too complicated, right? Well, you know what? I 200% agree with you.
That’s actually why I’m not… exactly doing this. If you analyzed my mind and my way of thinking about my books, what I love and care the most about in books, and so on, it would look like this. Let me reassure you, though: I don’t jump through hoops and open an Excel spreadsheet to make averages before I rate my books. Do I think about all of these things, do they have this certain influence? YES.
In the end, though, I’m here to talk about books I liked, loved, despised and to share the love, not do too many statistics. In my head, my system looks like this. In reality, I think about how it made me feel and go back on all the elements in details only when I’m writing my review properly.
If you’re a statistics fan and use Excel or complicated math formulas, GREAT! If you rate on a feeling, even greater. If you read and don’t rate books, AWESOME. We all have our own system, no matter how simple, complicated or unexistant and that’s the beauty of reviewers, too.
How do you rate your books? What influences you the most in your ratings, or thoughts of a book, if you don’t rate them? Do you have some sort of system, or not at all?
Does the community influences your ratings just as well? Like, everyone liked this book so I need to rate it high, even if I didn’t love it? I need to know if I’m not the only one. Let me know in comments!