Star ratings are pretty common in the bookish world. Goodreads and Amazon both use star ratings, as well as a good chunk–I would guess the majority–of book bloggers. The most common star system seems to be rating books from 1 to 5 stars, but what’s a reader to do when they want to use a half star rating?
I’ve been thinking about half star ratings quite a bit lately. Personally, I still like star ratings. I understand why some bloggers don’t and decide to make a more personal rating system, but for me the benefit of star ratings is that they’re universal and applicable to other places. I know when I give a book a rating that means I know exactly how I feel about the book, and can use that rating pretty much any place I might cross-post my review.
Some people have half stars built into their rating system, but I don’t. I know a lot of people want Goodreads to add such a feature, but for better or worse, the Goodreads system is still just solid stars. That doesn’t stop people from giving half stars in their rating, though, and I have to admit I’ve done this before. I don’t make a habit of giving half star ratings(most of the time it seems too unwieldy for me), but every once in a while a book just fits better as a 3.5 read than a 3 or a 4. Then the question becomes a matter of rounding.
I’ve seen a LOT of people talk about rounding up or down when giving a half star rating, particularly twitter. I’ve seen people say they always round up, they always round down, authors encouraging people to round up, etc. And I’ve come to realize that for me, rounding up or down isn’t a matter of principle. It’s a statement as to which way my feelings go on a book.
Here’s what I mean by that–sometimes when I give a half star rating, I round up. Sometimes I round down, but there’s always a reason. Take, for example, two books I read recently–Black Iris by Leah Reader and Make it Count by Megan Erickson. I mentioned in my reviews for both of these books that I thought the best rating for my thoughts was 3.5 stars. Still, I rounded down for Black Iris and rounded down for Make it Count.
My justification for that? I gave Black Iris a 3.5 because I had actual issues with the book. I thought the pacing was off and the symbolism was too over-the-top. There were things I really liked about the book, but there were also things I legitimately didn’t like.
I gave Make it Count the exact same rating–but I rounded up. Why? Because I didn’t have any issues with it–I just didn’t get the connection and enthusiasm I needed for a 4 star read in that type of story(contemporary romance). There was nothing I disliked, exactly, it just lacked OOMPH.
Looking back over the few reviews I’ve given with half star ratings, I think I do tend to round up more than I round down, but I definitely have rounded down in the past when I thought it warranted.
LET’S CHAT: Do you rate your reads? Ever give half-star ratings? If so, do you tend to round up or down?