Skip to content

Thoughts on book rating

One star. The character is too simple.
One star. It is illogical.
One star. It doesn't fit the genre.

Two stars. I couldn't finish the story.
Two stars. There is no character development.
Two stars. It is just ok.

Three stars. I am disappointed.
Three stars. I liked it.
Three stars. I like the writing but not the story.
Three stars. It is mediocre.

Four stars. It is thought provoking.
Four stars. I enjoy this book.
Four stars. It is well constructed.

Five stars. The story is wonderful.
Five stars. This book is so beautiful.
Five stars. This one captivated me the most.

We shouldn’t rate books or any other type of arts, in my opinion. You might disagree or you might agree, but since this article meant to be read by the void, read (re: hear) me out for a couple of minutes.

When we are giving a review, we will never be separated from our own experience. One might like it because it fits their taste. One might not like it because they expect more action. I like some books for a single reason and some other books for a million reasons. Maybe… Just maybe. We should recommend books based on our preferences. Oh, you like A. Based on your historical preferences, other readers like you read book B and they like it. Maybe we can learn one or two things from targeted ads and recommendation algorithms to recommend books to read. I think it is harder to be trapped in the echo chamber when it comes to books, and I think it’s worth the risk. If somebody put their energy to write lies and hoaxes, and publish it in books, that would be an interesting feat, isn’t it? I mean we can channel their imagination into novels. Who knows.

What is the point of rating?

Back to the rating system, what is the point of rating? Are we assessing the works? Are we assessing the authors? Are we assessing both of them? Well, I don’t have the answers either and that’s why I think it can be abolished. I think without a rating, our discussion can be more constructive. Of course, removing ratings does not remove the internet argument arena but it can help people to find their own taste. Instead of arguing the rating, we can argue about the content of the book. Book A is my cup of tea because I’m looking for something light. Book B might get my attention when I’m just into the fantasy genre. Book C uses simple English and might be useful for people that just learned English.

The rating does not have any standards. I gave three stars to mean mediocre while my friend gave two for mediocre. And that’s just the simple explanation. Again, I find it weird that we sum all of our subjectivity into one “objective” score.

Imagine book as a gift

Books and other forms of art can be imagined as a gift. The gift is the creator’s until they packaged it. It stopped become theirs when it is opened. It becomes ours when we open it. The interaction between us and the literature is ours and unique for each of us. I acknowledge the intellectual property rights but it is up to the reader on how they interpret it.

If it is not possible to abolish the rating system or perhaps took time, maybe we could reduce the emphasize on the rating. Hide the rating or put the rating in a non-strategic place.

I kind of hope that we can like and dislike things safely. I once feel bad that I cannot like a book while that book received a high rating. Is there something wrong with my taste? I thought to myself. Maybe. Again, another maybe. We can emphasize more about the explanation on why it does not fit my preference or my current expectation. I would love to have more people read books and by fixing the review method, I hope, can reduce the barrier even though just a little bit.

Photo by Anna Tukhfatullina Food Photographer/Stylist on Unsplash