Chatterbox: The 3 Star Debacle

July 24, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Chatterbox, Features


So you’re looking at Goodreads, and you stumble upon a 3 star review. Do you automatically dismiss the book for something that isn’t worth your attention, or do you think that it actually might be decent?

More often than not, we are glossing over 3 star reads, thinking they’re not worth our while. With such a limited time for reading, we want to focus on books that are fantastic, that will blow us away, and they belong in the 4 or 5 star categories. But this doesn’t mean that the reviewer didn’t enjoy the book. 3 stars could mean they found it just okay, or that there were parts they enjoyed about it but other parts that they didn’t. That my friends, is what I call the 3 star debacle.

Back in the day, when I was new to Goodreads, if I disliked a book, I would rate it 3 stars. But my review of it would clearly express my dislike for it. Why wouldn’t I use 2 or *gasp* 1 star if it was truly an experience I didn’t enjoy? Because authors are present on Goodreads, 3 stars seems kind of harsh, especially in a sea of 4 or 5 stars. I’ve been dismissed by authors before for rating their books 3 stars, despite providing a fair review. Blog tour operators even prevent you from rating a book less than 3 stars, for fear that it would damage the publicity for a book.

But with this in mind, it’s kind of unfair to assume that if you disliked a book, it should at least be 3 stars. I always rate a book based on my own enjoyment. This does not mean I didn’t enjoy the book. This does not mean I want to damage the publicity of the book. This does not mean that I’m being mean to the author, that what they wrote isn’t worth reading or that I wouldn’t recommend the book to others. I have picked up books based on 3 star reviews, because all I take it as, is that there were elements of the book that the reviewer didn’t enjoy, or it didn’t blow them away.

As reviewers, I think we should take back the meaning of 3 stars. Looking at the Goodreads review scale, 1 star means you didn’t like it. 2 stars means it was ok. 3 stars means you liked it. That means, when there are books that simply felt like a struggle, or that I didn’t enjoy, I will rate it 2 stars. But I’m going to explain and review the book to the best of my ability, providing elements that I enjoyed, and didn’t enjoy.

I think as readers, we have to also be objective about 3 star reviews. We shouldn’t not pick up a book just because someone rated it 3 stars. We should read the review, and see if there are elements that we will enjoy.

What do you think of the 3 star rating?

As reviewers, are you afraid of giving a book less than 3 stars?

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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104 responses to “Chatterbox: The 3 Star Debacle

  1. I personally focus on what the book is about and the subject matter a lot more than the review ratings. Sure I'll take a look at what other people rate the book as, but I don't allow that to cloud my perception of whether I want to read it. Why? Because it's entirely possible that I might genuinely enjoy a book that other's don't and vice versa. There have been a lot of popular and highly rated books that just haven't worked for me. We're all individuals and we all have slightly different tastes. To be honest, I often avoid reading the reviews of a book before actually reading it myself. Then when I finish it, I go back and look at what other people have said. Sometimes I feel similar about the book that they did, but it's amazing how many times I feel completely differently about a book than a lot of the other readers.
    My recent post Trivia Tuesday: Bottlenose Dolphins

  2. Megan

    Love this post! Honestly, I give out a lot of 3's. I know 3-stars mean different things to different people. It used to be more of a "meh" rating to me, but my rating system has morphed over time.I give 3 books to books I enjoyed reading as a whole but had a few issues with.
    My recent post Book Review & Giveaway – Sustained by Emma Chase

  3. I always read a 3-star review to see what they didn't like about the book. If it still does sound like a story I will enjoy, I will pick it up anyway 🙂 I don't try to dismiss books only based on what other people think. I also want to decide for myself if it sounds like a Mel-book.

  4. mlsimmons

    I never dismiss a book based on a rating. I've bought books based on one star reviews. Sometimes what one person dislikes about a book, is something that I would like. Usually for me, people say that the book is too dark, and I love dark, gritty stories.

    I also rate a lot of books 3, 3.5 and 4 stars. I rarely rate 5. I probably won't have but 6 or 7 this year.
    My recent post A Kiss of Blood Audiobook by Pamela Palmer (REVIEW)

  5. thesepaperhearts

    Ratings are important to me when I consider a book, but one person's rating won't decide whether or not I'll read the book. Seeing one 3 star rating probably won't deter me from a book, BUT if I see a lot of my blogger friends giving the book 3 stars and feeling meh/negative, then I'm more likely to not read the book.

    A big decider for me sometimes too is the average goodreads rating. I tend to skip over books with an average rating below 3.8 stars. Not always, but I'd rather focus on books that I have a higher chance of liking because of my growing tbr shelf 🙂
    My recent post Discussion: Why Are Authors Leaving Twitter? Is It Really Their Only Option?

  6. danielleisbusyreading

    3 stars are such a conundrum! I have to admit that when I see a friend rate a book 3 stars, I immediately think it wasn't very good, which is ridiculous because I *like* a lot of my 3 star reads. I think the issue is that 3 stars can mean so many different things – it was disappointing but still good, it didn't inspire much emotion in me but it wasn't bad enough for 2 stars, etc etc.
    Not really sure how to "fix" this, but I do try to say in reviews sometimes that 3 stars does not = negative.

    • I totally agree, 3 stars doesn\’t mean you didn\’t like it! It\’s disappointing when that\’s assume doesn\’t it? That\’s a good way to address it actually.

  7. I think having your opinions of books rely strictly on star reasons is ridiculous. I read thorough reviews of the books Im interested in and base my stance on that. And unless the book is incredibly problematic, I'll still read the book anyway.

    I'm also not afraid of giving ratings lower than two. I want to be honest worth my readers. If a book is so bad that I didn't enjoy the experience I think it's important to let the readers know that.
    My recent post What Cosplay Means to Me

    • I guess some people rely on star ratings if they don't want to know anything about a book before going in, or they don't have time to read reviews. It's definitely important to be honest!

  8. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    Star ratings are so difficult. Even though Goodreads says 3 stars is ok to me is I didn't really like it, but the book had merits. If I enjoyed it but it had faults it's 4 stars. I even do go by Goodreads star ratings when picking out books to read. If I'm iffy on a book and the rating is lower than 4 stars, I probably won't go for it. I feel like Goodreads ratings is more accurate than Amazon somehow. I'm probably relying too much on these ratings, but I do take into account bloggers reviews if I know we have similar tastes. 🙂
    My recent post Suspense Sundays (157) Life Ends at Midnight

    • I totally agree Charlene. I totally agree, I mean it's always hard to rate on Amazon vs goodreads because I feel like I need to keep the star ratings consistent BUT they don't mean the same thing on all platforms you know?

  9. Charnell

    I am not scared of giving a book less than 3 stars if I didn't like it, I like to be honest. I do feel bad if it's a new book, from a debut author that hasn't got much publicity or I'm one of the first reviewers. I don't want my review to put someone off reading it, when it could be the perfect read for them and just didn't work for me. But I am always really honest in my reviews, so I end up rating it what I felt it was to me. 3 stars is usually for books I thought were okay but had problems with.

    • That's fair enough Charnell, you definitely have to tread likely especially when it comes to indie author reviews on Goodreads.

  10. bingeingonbooks

    Honestly, three stars don't strike me as a negative review necessarily. I guess it depends on the person's comments. I give it a three star review if I just thought it was okay. If it was good, but not great and if I could not see myself rereading it, then I may give it three stars. Now if the average review for a book on Goodreads or Amazon, I may skip over it. That tells me that most of the reviewers didn't think the book was great. Even if the book wasn't bad, I just don't want to waste my time on books that most others think are just okay.
    My recent post BOOK REVIEW: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

    • It's definitely different for everyone, which is even more apparent from reading the comments here which is interesting. I know what you mean Cynthia, I mean it's going to be hard to see whether a book is worth your while, and sometimes we don't have time to read all of their reviews.

  11. When I look at an overall rating for a book on Goodreads, I tend to stay away from ones that have a 3. For me, it just means that not enough people loved it. In terms of how I rate books, I only ever rate a book 3 if didn't enjoy the book. It's kind of stupid now that I think about it because a 3 still means you loved it more than you hated it. I've been considering rating my books a little more critically to be honest. 😛 Lovely post Jeann!
    My recent post How I Feel About Diverse Books

    • Fair enough Laura, I totally used to rate books that I didn't like a 3 as well, but now I've moved on and can rate them 1 or 2s. Normally 2s hahaha.

  12. Renee Bookboyfriends

    Ooooh interesting topic! YAAASSSS!!! *high 5s* So true so true, I actually hardly ever rate below 3 stars, although recently I have been getting a few 3 star reads. :/ But if the book is okay, I will give it 2 stars, although none of the 2 star books I've read I've known the author for. And there also aren't that many books that I rate below 3 because I'm a bit of an optimist and always find something good to say, or things that I've liked about the book. But you are so right Jeann! I agree with this discussion 100%, there's the good and the bad of ratings, and I have been on goodreads a long time too and yes…. the star rating always gets to me and the fact that they're not thinking of doing half stars now or anytime soon in the future. Thanks for sharing!

    • I know what you mean, Renee! It's so hard when you know the author or if you know they're going to be reading your review (via the publisher). Half stars would make it so much easier! That's why I use them on my blog.

  13. You've made some really good points here Jeann which are worth remembering. Three star ratings haven't usually turned me off a book completely, since I do think it's important like you said to look at what the reviewer has said specifically about the pros/cons in order to really weigh things up. After all, that rating is just a number, and the words supporting it can mean so much more.
    My recent post Excuse-to-read Readathon

    • I totally agree Genie! I guess it's more for Goodreads too, I definitely check out the average rating and scroll through friends/people I follow of their ratings. If I want to know why they rated that way I read their reviews. (This is for books I haven't read)

  14. readerswonderland

    Yeah, I rate books to whatever I personally thought about them, regardless of circumstances because I blog first and foremost for myself and I always want to be honest with whoever is reading my thoughts at the time. I don't let any rating dissuade me from a book, but if the review mentions things I tend to dislike I will probably skip it.
    My recent post I’m Not a Peeping Tom

    • Absolutely, I think honesty is important for blogging. That's true, I would take a second glance at their rating at the end to confirm feelings from their review, or I would purposely seek out a rating so I can read people's thoughts about it.

  15. Oh, this is just so, so true! All of it! I am guilty of this in the past, especially like you said, when I was new to Goodreads. I couldn't bear to give a book under three stars, so unless it was downright awful, I didn't. Now, I like to think I am much more reasonable. I look at the reviews themselves more than just the rating, because one reviewer's 3 stars is NOT the same as another's. I know reviewers who almost never give out 5 stars, and some who give them out like candy (I think I may fall into the latter category more than the former 😉 )

    As for how I do it now? I think a 3 star means it was worth my time. I mean, 2.5 would be right in the middle, no? So a 2.5 is "eh, take it or leave it", so a 3 star would be positive, but flawed, right? A 2 star is "probably not for me" and then anything below that… yikes 😉 This is a fabulous post!
    My recent post This Week At Midnight (71)

    • Oh man, I was exactly the same as well…and it's definitely best to look at it subjectively. Hahaha I give out 4.5 stars a lot more frequently than 5 stars 😀

      Absolutely, I've been using 2.5 for the meh kind of ratings these days too. Thank you Shannon!

  16. literateture

    well, it depends how high the 3 is. For example, if it were 3.40 I'll be leaving it alone but if it happens to be 3.75 I'm going to give it a go. I have 5 stars to 4.5 ratings on books with a general rating of 3.50+ hahaha I have weird taste sometimes.

  17. Bec

    3 stars has always been my middle ground. It's the median rating. It wasn't a good book, but it wasn't horrible either. Overall I liked it. This mindset is how I look at other 3 star reviews, which is a bit silly because 3 stars means different things to different people.

    I wouldn't say I'm terrified of giving a rating less than three stars, but I do feel bad about it. I don't think I've ever given a rating below 2 stars other than a DNF because I can always find some little aspects I like. I've never not liked a book enough to give it 1 star.
    My recent post I’m Not a Peeping Tom

    • It used to be mine too, but now that's 2.5 stars. I do feel bad about it too but lately I've been using the 2 stars more liberally.

  18. Zoe

    This is a really interesting question Jeann! I think it depends who the review belongs to. If it's a 3 star from someone I completely trust then I'll probably put it on a "maybe" list; but if it's a 3 star from someone who I usually differ in opinion with then I usually make sure to look at other reviews before I make up my mind. Thanks for sharing this Jeann and, as always, fabulous review! ♥

    • I completely agree Zoe, discovering trusted reviewers is definitely the best way to figure out if the book is for me. Thank you hun!

  19. rlsharpe

    I'm not afraid to give a book less than 3 stars, I just don't usually have to because there aren't that many book I've read that I haven't at least liked.
    I use the goodreads rating system as my own so if I rate a book 3 stars it means I liked it. It may not have blown me away, and it may have had it's faults, but it was still enjoyable.
    I won't dismiss a 3 star book unless I don't like the sound of the premise. Any thing 3 stars or above I'd consider good.
    If I'm lucky enough to get published then I'd be happy with a rating of 3 stars or above. I think having the experience of a reviewer will really help me to deal with my own reviews.
    My recent post Review: Shards Of Hope By Nalini Singh.

  20. Kara Terzis




    And the three star rating was a LARGE LARGE LARGE part of the reason why I stopped rating books on my blog (although I still do on my Goodreads.) Heaps of people kept mistaking my three stars for being "meh", when, in fact, I DID enjoy the book. The thing about me is that I am tough reader–and reviewer. And oftentimes I find myself looking back on my reviews and thinking, "Huh!? Why did I give that so many stars!?" so I might rate a little lower. I hardly ever give out five stars. >.>

    Great post. This is an issue I struggle with a lot haha. xD
    My recent post Friday Photography (18)

    • Absolutely! It's such a frustrating thing to see, especially when 3 stars actually meant YOU LIKED IT. But only because it was severely flawed or nothing special.

  21. nellieandco

    I definitely meant to comment on this yesterday, damn being busy, but I'm surprised that so many people rate a book 3 stars when they weren't a big fan, that strikes me as.. crazy? 3 is a good rating for me, means I liked it, I can just name a handful of issues, but there were fabulous things, you know? This post was so good Jeann, but it also opened my eyes as to how other people blog too, wow!
    My recent post My Co-Blogging Story and Why I Went Back Solo

  22. aentee @ read at midnight

    I usually read a book if I'm interested in it, irrespective of star ratings – so I'm either foolish or optimistic haha.

    Personally, I write 3 stars for books that I liked but was underwhelming. My blog is new so I haven't really read books I disliked yet, as I only read books I'm sure to love. That might change as I blog more, though. I always feel guilty giving anything less than a 3 stars because some poor soul slaved for years over the book -but I wouldn't say I'm afraid to step on toes.

    Thank you for opening up the discussion, very interesting post and fascinating comments as well 😀
    My recent post Book Review: Cruel Beauty

    • Haha that's actually a good way to think Aentee, because you're reading what you know/think you'll enjoy. I know what you mean about the guilt that comes with 1 or 2 stars, but I'm becoming more confident in using the 2 star rating now for books I didn't like.

  23. Three star to me definitely means there was parts of the book I liked and disliked but it could also mean I felt fairly indifferent to it. It's definitely a hard one but I don't tend to not pick up a book because of peoples ratings. I think we all know that books are subjective to the reader and we aren't all going to love the same thing.

    I'm definitely not afraid to give books less than three stars, but I don't interact with authors in any way, and I don't do blog tours or anything like that so I don't think I feel the pressure to try and please anyone with my ratings.

    It is a shame that people do go entirely off star ratings, or whatever is being used to measure a book, when you definitely get more of a sense of how the reader felt if you read the whole review.

    • I know what you mean Patty, definitely reading the reviews are good as well. I think some people go by star ratings because they're afraid of reading reviews for spoilers? Anyhow, I always make sure I read reviews first.

  24. Great discussion Jeann! I usually pick up 3 star books, because for me, 3 stars means the reviewer enjoyed it, but it could have been better. At least that's the way I rate my books. I've always been very honest with my reviews (and you know how many books I dislike lel), so 3 stars to me means it's worth a try!

    • Thanks Joy, I pick them up as well, I mean 3 stars (and reviews for that matter) are often subjective. Only from reading the reviews will we find out whether it's for us or not!

  25. I completely agree with you Jeann! I've often recommended books to my friends. They then go look at my review and go, but you only gave it 3 stars? Yes, I did, it means I liked it but it didn't blow me away and it is still worth reading. I have no problems with giving a book a bad rating…after all it is my oppinion and I really hope that one day when I finally publish my own book that my readers will rate it whatever they want to and not be afraid. Love this discussion! 🙂

    • I know right! It really frustrates me when I rate a book 3 stars and people are like "Oh so you didn't like it?"

  26. Shannelle C.

    I'm not afraid at all! Three stars is the rating I give for books that were absolutely okay. That means it didn't make me fully enjoy it, but I didn't hate it either.

    That said, I don't ever dismiss books by three star ratings. I prefer referring to a ton of other reviews first before dismissing a book.

  27. For a long while I was definitely afraid to rate a book less than 3 especially for review books (but now I just what I want, ha).

    I totally agree the 3 star is quite the debacle! For me, 3 stars means I didn't love it, but I don't regret reading it and it was enjoyable. It's sometimes my lazy rating. When I don't hate or love a book, it gets 3 stars.
    My recent post Review: The Art of Sinning by Sabrina Jeffries

  28. I've been really working on this this year! I used to give out four and five stars too easily, because I felt like I was being too harsh, but I've learned the value of three stars. It doesn't mean the book was BAD, it just means that I liked it but it was missing the spark to turn it into a book that sticks in my head more.
    My recent post The Art of Denial

    • I totally agree with you Kayla, I used to give them out pretty easily as well but since then have become more liberal with my 3 star and 3.5 star ratings.

  29. I think the three star rating is really subjective. Some people hand it out when they liked a book, and say positive things throughout it. Some people hand it out when it just didn't quite make an emotional connection. And some people hand it out when they weren't really a fan at all.

    I think the review that goes with the three stars is much more important than the actual rating itself (which is why I have been contemplating getting rid of my ratings altogether, because sometimes they're just particularly indicative). Because that way, you actually find out if the reviewer liked the book, or connected to it, or didn't like it, or whatever.

    I am most definitely not afraid of giving out ratings below three. One of my most used ratings is two stars, and I've even used a one star on a review book that I requested. I'm never going to elevate my rating because I feel like I should. Honesty is what book blogging is (or should) be about, and I just don't see the point in pretending a book is better than it is.

    And it also really goes to show how special my five star books (and even four star books) are, because I don't give them out easily!

    Lovely discussion! 😀 <3
    My recent post Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

    • I totally agree with you Chiara, we should liberally use every star rating there is (although I don't give out many 1 star reviews at all). I use a lot of 1/2 ratings actually to really pinpoint how I felt about a book. I totally agree with the reviews, they will definitely tell us more than the review itself, particularly since everyone seems to rate books subjectively.

  30. Yeah. 3-star ratings are a cop out. Don't get me wrong, I've used this rating many a times. But middle of the grade just doesn't seem all that helpful. It's either you like the book or you hate it. Self, don't waffle. From now on, I'll change my rating to LOVE, LIKE, DISLIKED, DON'T BOTHER. Yes. Yes. Thank you, Jeann. Thanks to this post! Lol.
    My recent post [548]: Burying Water by K.A. Tucker

    • I know, they are just so difficult to rate, it kind of feels like a catch all you know. That's a good idea Joy!

  31. For me, three stars means "I liked it." Even two stars means something like "meh" in that I did kind of like the book. It's only one star that really means "Ana did NOT like this book at all! ARGH!"

    When I'm looking at other reviews and I see a book that looks interesting, but got three stars from a friend that I know I have similar book taste with, I'll still check it out! 😛 Three star ratings don't really turn me off unless the book's synopsis just doesn't sound like my kind of thing.
    My recent post Review 178: Prodigy (Marie Lu)

    • Yeah, pretty much Ana. It's hard because for some people 3 stars means they liked it, for others it means it was meh. I actually don't rate many books 1 stars, unless I absolutely HATED it. 2 stars is when I disliked it lol.

  32. I hate rating books. HATE it, because for some reason it's seems to be so subjective. Unless I feel it's a clear 1 or 5 star. That's why I don't do it on the blog. I used to though. I'd rate a book 3 stars and people would comment saying things like 'it's too bad you didn't like it. ' Um, did they not see where I talked about how I DID like it? A 3 is not a bad rating to me. It means I like it. I wanted to stop rating on GR too, but it seriously bugs me not to mark the stars. lol

    This is how it breaks down for me:

    5 stars means there is a chance it'll be a favorite of mine. It may not be a masterpiece or great literacy work, but it means that there was something about that resonated with me.

    4 stars means I REALLY like it, hell, I might even love it, but I don't LOVE it. In other words I love it, but I'm not IN LOVE with it. 😉

    3 stars means I liked it. It was mostly good and I might recommend it, but I probably wasn't totally off the charts WOW'd by it.

    2 stars doesn't mean I completely disliked it, it just means I don't think I would've missed out on much if I had not read it. It's just okay.

    1 star… Well, that's obvious

    So no, I don't dismiss 3 star ratings, even though those are the ones I never know what I'm going to get.
    My recent post Hunted by Kevin Hearne & Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

    • I know, it's just so difficult isn't it? I do like ratings, because it's good for a quick reference and to measure the book up against other books that I've rated. But YES that is annoying as well, it's like 3 stars is not a bad thing! Thanks for sharing your rating scale as well.

  33. I think the 3 star rating is always one of the most difficult ratings, for me a 3 star rating means the bok was okay. It usually emans I liekd soem thgins, but there were also thgins I disliekd, or the book fell flat or in soem cases it even means it was disapointing as I hoped for more.

    I definitely prefer 4 or 5 star books, but on the other hand 3 star books can still have elements I enjoyed and if a first book in the series is a 3 star rating I probably still continue the series if there was enough I liked to continue. On the other hand a 4 or 5 star review is usually more convincing to pick up a book. But like you said what is written in a review is actually more important than the actual rating.

    I know that even some negative reviews can make me want to pick up a book. We are all different and enjoy different things in books, so I certainly think the reasons for giving a 3 star rating should be looked at and not just the rating itself. A review says more than just the rating, but ratings still tel something as well and can give a quick indication of how much someone enjoyed a book. Great post!
    My recent post Lola’s Kitchen: Spring Rolls Recipe

    • I know, I used to use the 3 star rating for okay books, but sometimes I use the 2.5 rating as well. It's pretty hard to interpret star ratings, because everyone's rating scale is different. I totally agree, a review is so much more than just the rating. Thanks Lola!
      My recent post Chatterbox: The 3 Star Debacle

  34. Marjorie DeLuca

    As authors I think we should be confident enough in our own work to realize that not everyone is going to love it. Some will and some won't. It's all about personal preferences and tastes. Even top authors like Khaled Hosseini and Donna Tartt get 1,2 and 3 star ratings. When you put your work out there, you have to accept the good and bad!!

    • Loved seeing your author's point of view Marjorie! That's true, not everyone is going to love your work. But there are going to be a fair few that do!

  35. Vane J.

    2 stars for me means meh. I rate many books like that. But no, I'm not afraid of rating books 1 star. Like you, a few years ago, I rated books I disliked 3 stars, but then I realised that there's no reason for me to hide my real rating.
    My recent post Review: The Heir

  36. Lily

    I don't decide to put down and pick up books based on what other reviewers have rated a book. I don't even typically see how many stars some reviewers give books. I always just read book reviews, deciding on a read based on what other's are rating isn't always the best method. I find that people have different rating scales themselves and even i'm iffy on where my 3 star ratings lie (did I like the book, was it just okay? Was it pretty enjoyable but also incredibly predictable?)

    I guess because I have history with reviewing books, I have a better understanding of why reading book reviews Is crucial when picking a read, rather than just peeking at what others are rating a book.
    My recent post Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda:Review

    • That's fantastic Lily! I think for me, if I saw someone I trusted ranting about an upcoming book on my TBR, I would put it lower down the list or decide to skip it altogether. But yeah, you're totally right, star ratings are so subjective for everyone.

  37. keionda

    I usually rate a book three stars if it was just a 'meh, okay' type of read but lacked the punch and the feels. I recently did give a two star review (didn't even blink an eye) it was just that bad BUT at the same time I do feel extremely guilty because being a writer myself, I know what it takes to write a good novel and the process an author goes through to get that book out there. I'm reading 'Matched' right now and its average Goodreads rating isn't all that good but I still am giving it a try and liking it. Sooo, it's all subjunctive, I think. 🙂

    • Yeah, I used to do that too Keionda, these days I give it 2.5. I guess 3 stars would be I liked it but found problems with it? Definitely all subjective, ratings mean different things to different people. I know what you mean about the guilt too!

  38. I used to rely so much on GR ratings to decide what books I read and which ones I dismissed and I wound up missing out on some amazing books. These days, I don't look at ratings and I don't factor it into my decision either. This is why I much prefer reading reviews than just taking a glance at the rating. That way I can tell what exactly went wrong for the reader and what they liked. Because perhaps what they didn't like in a book, I'm more tolerant towards. I've thought about completely eliminating my ratings, but it also helps me personally keep up with quick book feelings.
    Great post, Jeann!
    My recent post Review : All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue by Sophie Jordan

    • So did I Nick, before Goodreads I relied on Amazon but realised that MOST people seem to rate books 4 or 5 stars, with barely any 3 star reads. I got disappointed, but these days I prefer reading reviews as well, from people that I trust. I wouldn't eliminate the ratings all together, because they're good for a quick guide, but I know what you mean!

    • Fair enough, I think that's a good and fair measurement as well. I don't think 3 stars is a bad rating – especially if you're explaining it clearly. Keep doing what you're doing!

  39. ConfessionsofaReadaholic

    I used to be so afraid of going below 3 stars, but now I totally do it and it makes more sense – 3 stars to me is liking the book but wishing parts of it could have been better. Great post! Not many people discuss this despite it being quite a common dilemma amongst readers and book bloggers.

    • Ah, I guess I don't really look at the average rating anymore – although I do take notice if it's lower than 4, I just mainly skim through reviews of people I trust. I totally agree – I've rated many books I've enjoyed at 3 stars too.

  40. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    I give out three stars a bit. I take it as I liked it, got through it but wasn't my favorite. Since blogging I haven't had below 3 stars but have rated stuff less on Goodreads. I would never dismiss a 3 star rated book because it's so subjective. Someone could have rated that a three because it had an element, like cheating, the reviewer disllikes. However, that element doesn't bother me so who knows it could be a 4 or 5 star book. Great discussion!
    My recent post Review ~ Finding Audrey

    • So do I, there's a fair few books I liked but I found issues with, and then it'd get 3 stars. You're totally right, it's so very subjective!

  41. For me, 3 stars rating that book was okay/readable/likeable but it has flows and did not impressed me that much. If I cannot decide whether I should or should not read a book, I go look for 3 stars reviews. Such reviews are usually more constructive and provide positives and negatives so I can decide whether book is for me or not.
    I have no problem giving book 3 stars, even if it is ARC and review is meant for promotional purposes. And those authors who get angry with 3 stars reviews should re-think their job… They simply cannot expect that everyone will adore their book and give it 4 or 5 stars. It is impossible.
    My recent post BLURB LOVE #4

    • So do I Lucia, I look them up quite a lot on Goodreads so I get more of a balanced opinion. I don't mind giving a book 3 stars, but lately I've been using 2.5 stars as straight down the middle. You are right about the authors, I think there are a fair few who take it personally.

  42. Lior

    I am very fussy with the books I choose, as a slow reader I have to be otherwise it's a waste of time, so for me it has to be a minimum of four stars (am I considered a snob?)

  43. I've always followed the GR suggestions for the meaning of ratings, and don't really get the problem people have with three stars. It says "liked it"! So I will rate stuff I liked three stars if I didn't feel more strongly about it. That always just… made sense to me.
    My recent post Review – The Dark Wife

    • I do like the GR suggestions because they are different to what I would think, seeing as 2 stars is ok and 3 stars is liked it.

  44. I'm totally not afraid to give a book 1 or 2 stars buuuut I STILL FEEL GUILTY. Like I'll do it, but I procrastinate tweeting the review to publishers. >_> Library books? I don't even bat an eyelid, I just am honest. hehe. BUT YES. It is a debacle, because 3-stars means differently for everyone. But shouldn't a "mediocre" book technically be 2.5 stars since that's half of 5-stars?? The rating system is so NOT logical but, gah, it is what it is, I guess.
    For me 3-stars is pretty much a "it was okay but I'm not having an emotion" . It's definitely not a BAD book, just not one that thrilled me.

    • I totally know what you mean Cait, I always get nervous while submitting a book that I didn't like to the publisher, but they are normally appreciative of the honesty. Yess, I totally agree with the review system being illogical! These days I use 2.5 stars a lot more for mediocre books.

  45. No stars will actually 'make' me pick up, or not pick up a book. There are some reviewers I follow where if they love the book, I probably won't, and if they hate it, I'll probably love it… so if they rate a book one or two stars, it will be a 4 or 5 star read for me…
    Reading, rating and reviewing is pretty subjective, and so, we all measure what we enjoy and don't enjoy a little differently. I think I'd actually pick up a book that has a little bit in all of the star-ratings more easily than one that only has 4 or 5 stars, so a 3 star rating will not damage a book in my eyes at all.
    Great discussion post, Jeann 🙂
    My recent post Review: Wicked Fall – Sawyer Bennett

    • I totally agree, for me it is finding reviewers who I trust to dissect a book or have a similar taste to me. Thanks Lexxie!

  46. I would never dismiss a book purely on star rating. I definitely read a selection of reviews and try to build my opinion from there.

    Personally, I use star ratings very subjectively on Goodreads. The stars represent whether I thought a book was annoying or bland or wonderful–and those things are not necessarily correlated to whether the book is good or OTHER people will think the book is good.