Why I don’t give 1-star ratings to books

I’m a reluctant user of star ratings for books. Although I don’t use ratings on this blog, I do for Amazon, Goodreads and NetGalley, as I believe it’s helpful for authors and publishers. My usual ratings are 3 or 4 stars, very occasionally 2 or 5, but never 1 star. This is because if a book I’m reading is, in my opinion, so awful that I don’t wish to continue reading, then I’ll abandon it. As I only give ratings to books that I’ve finished, there is never the opportunity to give a book 1 star. I don’t think it’s fair to rate DNFs, although other readers may think differently. Unfortunately, some people will use the anonymity of the internet to write unnecessarily mean reviews. They are of course entitled to rate books 1 star, with or without a review, but there are some who either forget, or don’t care, that behind every book is an author, a real person. For independent authors in particular, for whom every review counts, 1 star ratings can be harsh and demoralising. I know it’s commonly said that ‘reviews are for readers’, but it would be strange for an author not to read at least some of their reviews and to not care what was said in them.

Do you write 1-star book reviews? Do you rate books you abandoned?

8 thoughts on “Why I don’t give 1-star ratings to books”

    1. I admire you for not using ratings. Originally I only reviewed books on my blog, without ratings, but then I started using NetGalley and Goodreads and felt that ratings were more useful than not.

  1. I don’t use a star rating at all as only use WordPress, but would be very reluctant to give a harsh rating to a living author.
    I think your way of doing this, to DNF books you don’t enjoy and not rate them at all. Much kinder.

    1. Thanks for your comment 🙂 I know a lot of bloggers do star ratings on their blogs, I have never wanted to though. Yes I try to be kind in my reviews even when I have negative or constructive things to say! If I reviewed every book I DNF there would be twice as many reviews on here…

  2. If a book can’t get at LEAST 2.5 stars, I won’t be finishing it, so I won’t review it (but I do sometimes put up a post about why I DNF a book…).

    1. I am not enthusiastic enough about using stars to think about giving half stars. But yes I agree with you, and very occasionally I might talk about some DNFs.

  3. Great post. I rarely give negative ratings for books just because I usually like most books I pick up or at least like them enough to give them a rough 3. I have given a few 2 ratings in my time though, to books that I just didn’t gel with, but most of the time there were some aspects of them that stop me going to a 1. There was only one book I gave a 1 rating to last year and it’s probably the first time I gave a 1 in several years. The book’s content disturbed me so much that I really ended up hating it and feeling so disturbed and upset by it. I would never review a DNF, but I did give this a 1 because of the dark content, but again I gave some positives to what I liked about the story too. I personally think that readers/reviewers should be free to rate a book however they want, but I do think that some 1 star reviews out there, especially on amazon are just so stupid and seem to be written by people who either haven’t read the book or didn’t understand it, or just wanted to be mean for the sake of meanness.

    1. Thanks! 🙂 That 1 star you gave sounds justified and if you’re explaining why then that’s helpful to other readers. Yeah I had a 1 star review on my 1st book and it was unnecessarily harsh, in my experience it tends to be reviewers who are ordinary Amazon customers and not book bloggers.

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