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?