I’m taking off my author hat this week and writing this as a reader. You all know how much I love to read. I’m constantly talking about books, getting and giving recommendations in person and across all my social media. So, like many of you, I have a huge To Be Read pile. Sometimes the book gets added no question, no further research needed past the author or the synopsis. Other times, I’m just not sure, and that’s when I turn to ratings and reviews.
Reviews are great. That subjective take on the book allows me to get a feel for it. I tend to start with people whose taste I know is similar to mine. See what they thought of it. Sometimes a bad review is exactly what makes me want to pick up a book. What one person hated is exactly what I might be looking for. One thing we all know is that there is no such thing as a universally beloved book.
But ratings baffle and fascinate me. Those stars mean such incredibly different things to different people. If I give a book 3 stars, I liked it. It was a solid read, with good writing. Just not something I’d necessarily ever read again. I’ve read three star reviews on books that given how badly the reader tore into the story, to me, should have been 1 star. And conversely, 3 star reads where the reader absolutely raved about it, leaving me confused about what it would take to get 5 stars from this particular individual.
And to be fair, I’ve given 4 stars to books with reviews that probably left others wondering why it didn’t get more. At least with reviews, we get to openly see the biases (good and bad) of the reader. But ratings are a guessing game, especially when not accompanied by a review. Personally, I find a two-sentence review more helpful to me as a reader than 5 stars.
Do you use ratings to determine whether or not you’re going to pick up a book? Do you find them useful?
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