How do I rate the books I read? Do you really want to know? Well, today I’m going to be talking about exactly that: my personal book rating system.
So I used to rely on the Goodreads rating system to rate books. But… that didn’t really work for me. Why? Because it’s exclusively about enjoyment. Now that might work for some people but it doesn’t work for me because sometimes I won’t enjoy a book that is otherwise pretty good. You know the ones. Well written, super hyped books that win awards that you go into with super high expectations but leave you feeling deflated. They’re not bad books, they just weren’t the right book for you.
Wanting to add depth to my ratings, I did a little research into how other members of the book community rate books. I was very interested in the CAWPILE method by G from Book Roast but ultimately decided it was too restrictive for me.
And so I created my very own rating system… which is, obviously, subject to change. So without further ado, I give you: the Happily Ever Homebody Book Rating System!
How I Rate Books: The Essentials
Okay so… I wanted to develop my own system that could be applied to literally any type of book. Fiction. Non-fiction. Audiobooks. Poetry. Even graphic novels. (Because my previous system didn’t really allow wiggle room for non-prose formats.)
And I ultimately came up with a 5 prong approach. That’s right, I’m keeping it (relatively) simple and only scoring books on 5 categories. Each of these categories will receive a score out of 10, giving it an overall score out of 50. So let’s take a look at those categories!
So this works in different ways depending on the type of book we’re applying the system to.
- Flow (in terms of plot)
- Character development
- Clear information/arguments/ideas/concepts
- Well researched
- Increases knowledge and/or awareness of the topic(s)
Graphic Novels, Comic Books, Manga & Picture Books
- Fiction – all fiction criteria plus use of art in storytelling
- Non-fiction – all non-fiction criteria plus use of art in storytelling
- Fiction – all fiction criteria plus narration to build storytelling
- Non-fiction – all non-fiction criteria plus narration to build storytelling
Quality of Writing (and Artwork)
This is where things get a little bit more critical. (But not overly critical because I’m a reader not a critic!) I’ll be focusing on style and format but most importantly: what works well and what doesn’t.
There are a few main criteria here that apply universally to all books and these are:
- Narrative/POV (if applicable)
- Writing style
- Pacing and flow (structurally)
- Use of language
In addition, there are a few criteria that are more specific.
Graphic Novels, Comic Books, Manga & Picture Books
- Art style
- Use of colour
- Quality of narration
I’m a very emotive reader so this is super important for me. It’s all about whether or not a book arouses any emotions. For example, if a book makes me laugh – that’s a positive emotion. If I’m bawling my eyes out for an hour, that book has aroused sadness. Sometimes it’s as simple as “aww that’s so sweet/cute/adorable”. Other times, it’s rage or anger.
This is super important to me because I’m an emotive reader. It’s not uncommon for me to laugh out loud at something witty or cry my eyes out for hours when someone dies. So this category is all about whether or not a book arouses any emotions. The more it affects me, the higher its score will be. And that might sound impossible but there’s a full spectrum of emotion and good books will appeal to more than one of those.
Side note: We’re talking about emotions regarding the content NOT your feelings towards the author.
This is an easy one to explain. For engagement, we’re basically asking the following questions:
- Did this capture my attention?
- Does it maintain my interest?
- Am I invested in the content?
Why is this separate from the content category? Quite simply because not all books are created equal. Have you ever read a book that maybe wasn’t fantastically written or had a weak plot but you devoured it because it was so interesting or you were deeply invested in the characters? Yep, me too. An engaging read is still a good read despite its problems. And I wanted my rating system to reflect that.
You already know what this category is all about. In fact, enjoyment is the basis for most readers’ ratings systems and there’s nothing wrong with that. If we don’t enjoy what we read, why did we bother reading it?
Here’s what I ask myself to get my true enjoyment score:
- Did I enjoy it?
- Is this something I’d recommend?
How Scoring Works
“What happens next?”, you ask. So each category receives a score out of 10 which gives it an overall score of 50. This gets divided by 5 to give me a score out of 10.
But how do I determine a score? Well… the content, quality, emotion and engagement categories all follow this 10 point scale.
Now the final category (enjoyment) works a little bit differently. I’ve actually split it into two separate 5 point scales to answer two separate questions. The first of these is did I enjoy it? And then I give it one of the following scores.
|1||Didn’t like it|
|2||It was okay|
|4||Really liked it|
And then I answer the final question – would I recommend this book? Again, it has a slightly different scale which looks like this.
|2||Probably won’t recommend|
Star Rating System
Then I add it all together, divide it by 5 and move onto the next and final step of my system is to give the book a star rating. How do I do that? Again, it’s pretty easy. I just use the following structure:
|0 – 1.9||★|
|2.0 – 3.9||★★|
|4.0 – 5.9||★★★|
|6.0 – 7.9||★★★★|
|8.0 – 10||★★★★★|
So there you have it, my personal system for rating books!
But wait… What about Anthologies?
I love anthologies as much as the next person so how does this system apply to a book with multiple voices and stories? It just requires a bit more patience. If it’s an anthology of content by the same author, I might lump it all together and just score it once. But it’s more likely that I’ll score everything out individually and then average it out.
How does that work? Well, I’ll group the anthology into the relevant type. So it’s an anthology of short stories, I’ll follow the fiction criteria. If it’s non-fiction or a series of essays, I’ll follow those criteria instead. And then yeah, just average out the score when I’m done.
I feel like that’s a bit more reasonable than just giving it one set score afterwards because some voices and stories will speak to us more than others. It also allows for reviewing each story or essay as an individual piece and as part of a collection which I really like.
Do you have your own way of rating books? Is it something that you’ve thought about if you don’t already? Let me know in the comments below!
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