my star rating system for books (because i’ve finally figured it out after years)

rating books is honestly pretty difficult. is the 3 stars you gave to that book the equivalent you gave to that other book? do you like those two books in the same capacity? I DON’T KNOW.

i’ve gone through many ups and downs when it comes to rating books. let’s be honest when we all first started rating books on goodreads and such…we gave 5 stars to every single book that we remotely liked.

of course, that’s changed so much over the years. and, after A Lot Of Struggles, I think I’ve finally understood how I want to rate books. That doesn’t mean sometimes I’ll read an odd book and still know how to rate it…because that totally happens.


Though I used to give 5 stars to any book I liked…now it is reserved for THE BEST OF THE BEST books – my favourite books of all time. So it’s very rare for me to give 5 stars! I currently have about 20 books rated 5 stars.

What I look for in a five star book? Nothing in particular. BUT these books make my heart FEEL alive, they might have made me cry, I might have re-read them 20 times, I love the characters, I love the atmosphere, I love the writing – it all depends.

a glimpse at my favourite books (check out my shelf here)


These books I REALLY REALLY liked and most of the time could be five stars but just didn’t have that extra something to make me completely fall in love with it. Or sometimes it’s like objectively this was…weak but I love it anyways. Also, if I read a book but read it a while ago and need to re-read I will give it 4 stars, even though it might be a favourite (e.g The Song of Achilles)

4.5 stars – this was like so very nearly perfect but I just had like few problems but still a very good book (some of these still make it to my faves shelf)

I realise I give 4 stars to a lot of finales and reason is, if I’ve read all the way to the end of a series I already love the characters and writing and world. That’s already established. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I love everything about the finale if that makes sense?

I GENUINELY LOVE ALL THESE BOOKS!! There’s just something about them that makes me not want to rate them 5 stars? And I can’t put it into words??


Can we PLEASE normalise 3 stars as a good rating? Because it totally is for me! This doesn’t even necessarily mean I disliked things about the book. It just means I enjoyed the book but didn’t feel super strongly about it. Still a good book in my eyes!

3.5 stars – If I rate a YA Contemporary 3.5 stars that’s the equivalent of me giving it 5 stars. Obviously sometimes I can give a contemp a 4 or 5 stars but it’s very rare!!

As you can see I give a LOT of contemporaries 3 or 3.5 stars. I’m hesitant to call these “fluffy” because a lot of them deal with darker topics.

Ahhh the books that I read more than a 2 years ago and can’t remember anything that happened but remember being fond of them so here’s an awkward 3 star! These all used to be 4 or 5 stars but I don’t feel strongly about them anymore.


This isn’t a bad rating for me!! Some people may be like “omg, spill the tea” if I rate a book 2 or 2.5 stars but, this isn’t a bad book for me. It just means “it was okay” and I don’t have any strong feelings towards the book. I didn’t actively like it or dislike it. I don’t consider this a super negative rating!

I don’t passionately hate these books. They were all just alright. Nothing especially bad but didn’t benefit my life in any way.

(wow that colour scheme) Here are 2 star books I actually did have problems with! I did enjoy certain aspects to all these books but there was a lot of things I was :// about


Here’s the truly bad rating!! I might not even detest this book but I probably found it boring and pointless, and regret reading it.

Here are some books I (really) hated!! And have no redeeming qualities for me!! Some I hate more than others but this books just weren’t 🙂 it 🙂

what is your rating system like? do you reserve 5 stars for you absolute favourite books? and what was your last 5 star read? do you use half star ratings?



48 thoughts on “my star rating system for books (because i’ve finally figured it out after years)”

  1. This was really interesting to read!! I think that I rate more books 5 stars, and also, for me, 2 stars is a pretty bad rating. 3 stars is I liked it, but it wasn’t that great, and 4 stars is I really liked it, it just didn’t have that extra spark that a 5 star book would have. I definitely have questioned whether or not I’m consistent with my ratings, and it’s interesting to see how someone else rates books 🙂


  2. the way your rating system is absolutely wack to me 😭😭 jk it’s just the 2 star thing — it’s so strange to me that that’s not a negative rating for you because it absolutely is to me lmao. i guess most of the time i just never Hate a book enough to give it 1 star so i just give it 2 stars instead and that means it’s negative for me!

    but also seeing you talk about how you’ve re-rated a lot of books makes me want to go through my read books and do the same too 😭 (well, the ones i didn’t already re-rate/unrate already) one part of me is like yeah you would not feel the same way about this now, and the other is like but! preserve the original feeling!!

    anyways seeing you and the way you rate things a lot lower than i would always gives me a crisis but i respect u and i also am trying to respect myself! i loved this post!!! ignore how i’m up at 2am pls


    1. yeah everyones like :/// about my 2 star thing y’all’s 3 stars is my 2 star that’s just how it is luv!!! i give out 1 stars “a lot more freely” than u SO. just BE BRAVE AND GIVE IT 1 STAR.

      and i dont feel too bad about re-rating because some books i read ages ago and still remain 5 stars so the other ones i re-rate are clearly inferior ❤ ❤

      so glad you went to sleep at 5 am ❤ thats healf luv.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. okay but like… where is ur 2 star then!! ur rlly just making a jump from 3 to 1 aren’t u 😮 also I KNOW i just feel so mean 😦 they don’t deserve 1 star :((

        also see a lot of my old 5 star ratings stay at 5 stars because of nostalgia…..


  3. I love to see how people rate their books. I have to admit I used to try to avoid it and now I try to actively do it. At least on Goodreads. (Still don’t give star ratings on my blog.) Even though it’s just that: Ratings are so different from person to person. For example, two stars means for me “I didn’t copletely hate the book but it just had too many flaws to give it anything better”. I wish Goodreads did have the option of half-stars though. I think sometimes that would make it easier.


  4. ooh, your rating system is interesting! i say i have one, but i mean i really don’t?? I used to give five stars like,,, a lot, and so last month-ish, I deleted all my goodreads books to restart!! which was a bad idea bc I’m dumb and physically incapable of finishing any task I decide to do! but anyways ~ I created this ‘six-stars’ shelf to ease up my five stars, so if there’s a book that just ~means a lot~ to me, it goes in the six stars? I think? ughhh idk my own system. in hindsight, that was a Really Dumb Idea :)))

    but also I love your system! ❤


  5. I mostly feel the same about my rating system especially when it comes to 4 and 5 stars ratings. Five stars are reserved for absolute favourites – as you said. In my case that would be The Kite Runner, The Night Circus, etc. 🧡 Three stars is an “okayish” rating for me but from 2 stars downwards it’s going in the more negative direction. I rarely give 1 star-ratings because that’s usually where I dnf. I also give half star ratings. // Really interesting post! 😊💫


  6. My rating system is very similar to yours. Yes, 3 star ratings are still good!! Its kinda like my “neutral” rating, so its good but not amazing.


  7. I,,, am a terrible person to come to with ratings. Past me when I ~ just ~ started here, read like all the popular books and basically gave them all 5 stars or 4 stars. That kept happening for ages. I blame it on myself for being easy to please and also kinda knowing what stuff I’ll like.

    But RECENTLY I started reading books that I’ve given 3 stars, even a two-star. But also I struggle because I feel like some of my 4 stars are actually 3 stars but I don’t know how to differentiate. 4 stars usually mean I really enjoyed, which coud also be 3 star. Wow why is this so hardddddd


  8. ahhh this rating system is so so hard for me. In fact I’ve been considering to remove it from my blog because I always struggle with giving stars 🌟 What often happens to me is that I give an initial rating, and then it changes later on…ugh (often lower because I’ve gotten off the high of finishing the book and can examine it more…ahem…critically)

    I like your star rating! Sorry if it sounds weird, but I think it kind of fits how I read (I tend to DNF books fairly often so it’s better for me if I have more positive/neutral “rankings”(?) rather than half-positive, half-negative – I end up “filtering” out boring books and finding books I enjoy)

    Also, kind of unrelated, but I wish goodreads would give us half-star ratings. So we don’t have to agonize between 4 and 5, or 3 and 4.


    1. oh yeah that always happens to me. after finishing a book i like, i’ll rate it high and then usually lower it afterwards after the high has died down…which I think makes sense because thinking over the book makes me re evaluate my feelings? I understand why Goodreads doesn’t have half ratings (I know us readers would love it but from a Goodreads Is A Commercial Site it doesn’t work??) but I agree!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I still go back and forth with my ratings haha! I rarely ever rate anything below three stars (I’m a soft sponge) but over the years have also grown to save 5 stars for that type of read that makes me feel something I can’t explain… it’s just that five star feeling u know?! Awesome post! 🤩


  10. our rating systems are kinda similar but also very different at the same time lmao!! i 100% agree with you that 5 stars are awarded to only the BEST books, and sometimes they just have that *extra special* feeling that i can’t put into words?? and omg yes, 3.5 stars from me is actually a pretty good rating too! (i tend to rate contemporaries very high though haha) but a 2-star from me is definitely a negative rating lol, and i rarely give 1 stars 😅

    it was so much fun to read about your system though, Ilsa!! ❤❤


    1. yeah for most people 2 stars is like,,, bad and while it CAN be bad for me a lot of the time it’s just me being “eh” about a book? and uhm i give out quite a lot of 1 stars oops. thanks for taking the time to read and comment!! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Yay I really liked reading this! I’m trying to give out five stars less now but I definitely remember the good old days of giving five stars to every book I vaguely liked HAHAH but yeah. I’m also trying to normalise three-stars as not a bad rating; I’ll admit for me two-stars is a bad rating usually reserved for books that had potential but I disliked a lot, I don’t think I really rate books one-star except as a DNF?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeap I used to be way too generous with my 5 stars! Glad that’s changed now. Yeah most people’s 2 star is bad and I think sometimes it is a bit more negative but a lot of the time it’s just me feeling lukewarm about a book? I don’t usually rate books I DNF? But that’s because If I DNF I usually do it early on in the book.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t often DNF, I usually prefer to evaluate the book on a whole and two stars is usually books that were okay because they weren’t insufferable so I kept reading, but I didn’t really enjoy? I think the rating system makes us subconsciously feel like 2/3 stars are bad haha


  12. My rating system is so complicated that even I don’t understand it 😂 I just get a hunch after I finish the book, if that makes sense? I don’t know how accurate that is but I believe it has worked so far. I can totally relate to your 5 stars rating approach. Almost half the books you’ve rated 5 stars are some of my all-time favorites! The books I rate 5 stars are those that remind me why I got into reading in the first place, they give me butterflies and make my heart race. I loved this post!


    1. ahhaha i didn’t even have a proper rating system until a while ago…i feel like after years of reviewing i finally understand how to rate. and yes!! your description for 5 star reads is so accurate – and glad we have similar taste!! thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  13. omg is this you posting?? hello??
    OKAY YES 3 STAR!! I’ve been giving so many 3 star ratings at the moment?? i feel like it just means that yeah it wasn’t great for me, but i don’t have SERIOUS problems with??? honestly such a harsher rater than before and lol don’t feel bad at all about it :///// ekk.

    LOVED THIS POST, (my rating system is all over the place)


  14. I love reading about how other people rate books so much 😍 For example, my 3 star ratings can be so varied – from ‘rant-review incoming’ to ‘I actually liked this book & would recommend it, it was just missing the X-factor for me’ 😛 It makes my heart so happy that Pride & prejudice is one of your 5-star reads! 😍 I’m so curious about why Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares both got 5 stars from you, but Daughter of Smoke & Bones only got 1 star! I was thinking of starting that series bc I loved Laini Taylor’s writing in the duology so much! 🤔


    1. haha rant reviews are usually 2 or 1 stars for me, never 3 stats!! That a super good rating for me still. And yes pride and prejudice is one of my all time faves! And strange the dreamer and book 2 were just amazing – I loved the writing style and the world and the characters and the plot!! I was really excited about daughter of smoke and bone but I hated it because there was hardly any plot – it was way too insta lovey (though strange the dreamer was as well, at least it was better developed) and I found myself unimpressed :// I didn’t find the writing as beautiful either

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oooh very interesting – the insta-lovey aspect of Strange the Dreamer was one of my least fave things about the book, but I thought the writing was so strong that I could overlook it. 😅 I guess Daughter of Smoke & Bone was her first series so it’s good to know she’s grown as a writer since then 💛


  15. This post was amazing and I loved reading about how you rate everything!❤️I definitely agree with so much of what you said! I’m the same on how a four star read is still really good, but didn’t have that *one thing* to be a five star. And I agree that 3 stars should be normalized as a good rating!! I rate books 3 stars all the time, especially if I enjoyed reading it, but I can’t see myself remembering any details or the characters in a few months. I’m always worried that my rating system is too “nice” because pretty much any rating except a 1 is good for me but this made me feel more confident in my system, haha.


  16. omg i cant help but think about the fact that your average rating must be pretty low HAHAHA. but i think we have the same rating system!! i’m just extra lenient with my ratings right now, because i feel bad about giving marginalized authors low ratings, and sometimes i can’t exactly explain why a book didn’t work for me. 2 stars means “just okay” for me too. 🤔 i know that for most it’s a negative rating, but 2 stars is literally just “meh” for me lmao


    1. my average rating is like 2.9 or something…so yeah it’s really low 🤒🤒 I feel kinda bad about giving marginalized authors bad reviews and ratings…but also I don’t care at the same time? (That sounds bad but I don’t like being not true to myself in ratings or opinions) and yes your 2 stars is what mine means as well!! 😎

      Liked by 1 person

  17. AH I love this so, so much. “BUT these books make my heart FEEL alive” YES YES. That’s exactly how I am rating my 5-stars read, they’re just books that made me feel something, sometimes I just can’t explain, these books just…. they deserve all my love somehow and my heart and I’m here for them always ahh. ❤
    I so agree with you about normalizing 3-stars rating as good ratings! For me, a 3-star book is a book I overall enjoyed reading, but that just didn't make me feel strongly enough to rate it higher. It doesn't mean it's a bad book, at all.
    Loved this post! 😀


  18. I also don’t know how to rate books. Rating books is hard. For me, 2 stars is not a good rating. I sometimes follow bookroast’s (a booktuber) rating method, CAWPILE – She analyzes the book based on Characters, Atmosphere, Writing, Plot,Intrigue, Logic and Enjoyment. I like her rating method and I applied it on some books but sometimes thinking about all these stuff is too complicated. Most of the times, I rate a book based on how I feel about it while reading. I also have difficulty rating comtemporary books because I don’t think they are as great as the fantasy books that I have read but I sometimes feel that I can’t compare them because they’re of different genres.


  19. I used to care so much about my rating system but now I don’t really care, it really depends on the person so there was no need for me to try to adapt my rating system to someone else’s. Like you said, a 3-star rating is a good one for you, and I think so too, but there are lots of people who don’t use it that way … Rating systems are confusing, especially because you might give five stars to two books and yet consider one of them better than the other, which is totally okay, but confusing if we think too much about it 😛 Great post! 🙂


    1. Yeah that’s true!! I feel like people should actually read your review instead of glancing at your star rating and taking that as your opinion fo the book? I feel like all my 5 star books are pretty much on the same level of my love for them…well, most of them anyways?

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Ooh our rating system is quite similar! And yes, 3 stars isn’t a bad rating to me. It’s actually a positive one! And so does 2.5 stars. 2 stars for me is for books I feel meh about. I rarely give books one star but I know if I look back at my Goodreads Read shelf I will find books that I’d give one star to these days.

    My 5 stars is totally reserved for all-time favourite! And I NEED the half-star rating!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.