Hello bookworms, and welcome back! It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another Let’s Talk Bookish post! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. Today’s topic is whether 3 stars is a good rating in a book review, suggested by Dani. (Thanks, Dani!)
This is actually a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, so this week is a great opportunity to get my thoughts out on paper! I am generally pretty generous with my star ratings. I end up giving a lot of the books 4 or 5-star ratings, probably too hastily. I sometimes question how I thought to give a particular book a 5-star rating when, in hindsight, it likely didn’t deserve the highest rating I could bestow on a book.
But concerning today’s topic, the 3-star rating: On my Rating System page, you’ll see that I describe a 3-star rating as: I liked this book, though it could have been better. I could have fallen in love with it if I tried hard enough. In essence, a 3-star rating from me signifies that the book was a solid read. It means that if I had chosen to focus on only the good parts while reading, I would most likely have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Looking at it that way, 3 stars isn’t that bad of a rating. A book rated 3 stars is a book with visible flaws, yes, but also visible strengths.
At least, that was my intention when I first wrote out my rating system. Looking back now, though, I have some thoughts.
Technically, yes, 3 stars should be a decent rating. But personally, I tend to use it with a negative connotation. One or two aspects of a book that I’m not a fan of is fine. Any more than that, and the book’s flaws prevent me from fully enjoying the reading experience. That’s usually when I bring out the 3-star rating. But that’s not to say that a 3-star rating means I didn’t enjoy the book at all. I recently read A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison and rated it 3 stars. Believe it or not, I enjoyed the book! It was a solid read that was diminished by the writing style. 3 stars is simply my equivalent of Mr. Darcy’s “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.”
But there’s a reason Elizabeth Bennet was so offended about Mr. Darcy’s questionable “compliment.” I go into almost every book I read with very high expectations, so for me to describe it upon finishing it as merely decent or solid is… not flattering. 3 stars means the book didn’t particularly do anything for me. It’s just… in the middle. It is, in a way, a rating of indifference. That is not how I should be feeling after reading a book.
The thought process that leads me to rate a book 3 stars is probably specific to only me. I’ve seen plenty of book bloggers and reviewers singing a book’s high praises and leaving a 3-star rating. Many bookish community members use the 3-star rating in a positive context, so I’m usually not deterred when a blogger rates a book 3 stars in a mostly favorable review. But if I see that the majority of readers has rated the book 2-3 stars, I’m probably going to give it a pass.
In the end, like so many other things in the bookish community, how you use the 3-star rating is up to you. What is your standard for a 3-star rating? Why do you rate one book 5 stars and another 3 stars? It’s all up to you, and thank you for taking the time to read my opinion about this topic. 🤗
(I recently read Emer’s thought piece about the uncertainty of the 3-star rating, and it was so insightful reading about people’s differing opinions. Go check it out for more food for thought!)
That’s it for today! How about you? Do you agree or disagree with me? When do you use a 3-star rating? What’s a recent book you rated 3 stars and why? Chat with me in the comments!