Let’s Talk Bookish – Star Ratings: Are they fair or necessary?

It’s Friday, so that means it’s once again time fro Let’s Talk Bookish, a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books.

This week’s discussion is Star Ratings – Are they fair or necessary?

So, I’m going to preface this by saying that this is something I’ve never thought about before. I just sort of took for granted it’s what people did. You read a book, you rate it, end of story. But the issue is more complex with that.

I’ll start out by saying that, no, they probably aren’t very fair. For one thing, stars mean different things to different people. This is what my star ratings mean:

Five stars: I loved it, I cherish it, I want to own it and reread it.

Four stars: I really liked it a lot.

Three stars: It was okay, I liked it.

Two stars: I didn’t enjoy it much, but there was something redeeming about it.

One star: I hated it.

However, not everyone attaches the same meaning to starts. To some people, giving a three star review is a huge insult to the book. To others, it means they enjoyed it a lot. So, star ratings aren’t standard and, except for five and one star ratings, it’s hard to tell what the person means when they star.

At the same time, I think it’s the easiest way to get across our relative enjoyment of the book. Reviews are great, but sometimes I don’t want to read a review, I just want to know if someone liked it or not. Stars give me a quick and easy guide to figuring that out.

On the other hand, tastes vary wildly and reviews are really a better metric of what a person thought about a book. I can get a clearer idea of how our star ratings align by reading a review. Maybe they rated it two stars, but they really liked the book and thought it was okay. That gives me a better idea of what they think that just looking at a star. And reading a review also helps me understand why someone rated something five stars when I really didn’t like the book and gave it a two.

So, I guess star ratings aren’t really fair, but, until we come up with a better way to rate things, they’re necessary. They can be useful to a degree and help give a quick idea of a book’s quality. But, they have to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

What do you think? Are star ratings fair or necessary? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!