I've used the same system for rating the books I review for the past four years: A star system going from 1 to 5. Lately, I've been questioning whether this rating system is a good idea and whether rating systems are good in general.
My concern about my own rating system lies in the ratings that I consistently give. Nearly all my ratings are 4 out of 5. If I dislike the book but don't hate it enough to DNF it, it usually gets a 3. Books somewhere in between rate a 3.5.
Rating a 4.5 or a 5 is very rare. Actually more rare the longer I blog. Maybe I'm more picky. Or maybe it's harder to impress me when I've read so many YA books.
I almost never give anything less than a 3. It's not because I'm afraid of writing a negative review. It's because I don't hesitate to stop reading books I don't enjoy. So if I finish a book, it automatically means I didn't hate it.
This homogeneity of ratings begs the question: Why continue to rate books when my ratings are usually the same? As a reader, do you find my ratings helpful?
I rely heavily on rating for blogs that I read. I am less likely to follow a blog that doesn't use ratings, because it makes the reviews hard to follow. Call me a bad reader, but I usually flip straight to a book's rating and read/skim a review to get the key points. Then I comment. Ideally, I would carefully read every book review, which would give me a far richer picture of the book than any simple rating can do. But unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day.
I do think that ratings are flawed and incomplete, but also vitally important to quickly gather information about lots of books and to be able to read lots of blogs. I would not want to do without them.
Let's assume from a starting point that my 1 to 5 star rating system is useless. Or rather, not the most useful rating system possible. What would be better?
I like the Buy, Borrow, Bypass system that Book Riot uses. I've seen other blogs use similar methods. I wouldn't want to copy the exact wording, but something to that effect.
Other blogs use letter grade rating systems or cupcakes or skeletons. All things that are very cute, but wouldn't be much better than the star system I currently have.
What do you think? What rating system do you most prefer?