How I Rate Books: My Personal Rating System

July 20, 2020 in Book Reviews
Personal Book Rating System

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!


Content

So this works in different ways depending on the type of book we’re applying the system to. 

Fiction

  • Plot
  • Flow (in terms of plot)
  • Character development
  • Themes
  • Setting/world-building

Non-Fiction

  • Clear information/arguments/ideas/concepts
  • Flow
  • Well researched
  • Increases knowledge and/or awareness of the topic(s)

Poetry/Essays

  • Storytelling
  • Flow
  • Themes

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

Audiobooks

  • 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)
  • Length
  • 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

Audiobooks

  • Quality of narration

Emotion

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.


Engagement

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.


Enjoyment

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.

1-2 Poor
3-4 Fair
5-6 Good
7-8 Great
9-10 Excellent

 

 

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
3 Liked it
4 Really liked it
5 Loved it!

 

And then I answer the final question – would I recommend this book? Again, it has a slightly different scale which looks like this.

1 Don’t recommend
2 Probably won’t recommend
3 Might recommend
4 Would recommend
5 Highly 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!

Featured Image: Fotografierende from Pexels

32 Comments

  • Laura July 20, 2020 at 8:29 am

    This is such a thorough and deep way to analyze the book, at least something that would give you a more appropriate score to then input into Goodreads. I’ve also felt that the one for Goodreads is a bit too simple, especially as we can’t even give out half stars for the books we read…

    – Laura || https://afinnontheloose.com

    • Hayley July 23, 2020 at 8:58 am

      Thank you so much! You’re so right, the GR system is too simple.

  • lifestyleseason July 20, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    Great post! This is very interesting! Thank you for sharing!

    • Hayley July 23, 2020 at 8:56 am

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Jenny in Neverland July 20, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    This is a great system for rating books! When I was a book blogger, I just did star ratings. Which I still use now on Goodreads but it’s definitely a bit restrictive and rarely gives an accurate overview of the book. Especially those middle stars!

    • Hayley July 23, 2020 at 8:56 am

      I absolutely agree, the Goodreads system is just a bit too restrictive. I’d completely forgotten about half stars when sorting out my scoring… I might have to review this in a few months and add them in.

  • Via Singh July 20, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    I like how you consider so many factors to rate a book. I love reading fictions and psychological thrillers are my favorite genre. I just consider the capturing story, the suspense maintained, how the characters have developed and how well the authors has kept that story alive in my mind, that I keep thinking when I will continue my reading. 🙂

    Via | https://glossnglitters.com

    • Hayley July 23, 2020 at 8:54 am

      Those are really great criteria! Thanks Via!

  • That Happy Reader July 22, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    What a great idea! I think I need to do the same thing! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hayley July 23, 2020 at 8:53 am

      Thank you so much! 🙂

  • Shirsha August 1, 2020 at 11:01 am

    This is a really great way of rating books. I’ve been struggling to come up with a system for myself as well. This post has given me some great pointers! 🙂

  • Love and Literature | Sophie August 29, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    Wow, this is such a detailed way of rating books! You clearly put a lot of though into it, and I 100% agree with you that a high rating book has to make you feel strong emotion. I don’t have a system as such, just whatever feels right after judging it on plot, characters, writing, etc.

    Take care,
    Sophie | loveandliterature.co.uk

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 2:20 pm

      Thank you Sophie! 🙂

  • Stephanie @ Bookfever August 29, 2020 at 6:32 pm

    I’m still hoping for half star ratings on Goodreads one day. It will make rating books a little easier because sometimes you just need to add that half star.

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 2:01 pm

      Yes that would be amazing! It’s so hard when you’re faced with either bumping it up and being too generous or knocking it down and being too harsh. Half stars would be a great addition to GR, for sure.

  • Jaya Avendel August 29, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    I love that you have put together your own rating system for rating the books you read, and I love that you have sections for story elements as well as emotion. For me, much of what makes up a good book is description, emotion, and characters. 🙂

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks Jaya, I completely agree. Emotion is such a big part of what makes a book “good” to the reader.

  • Kelly Diane August 30, 2020 at 9:07 am

    This was a very interesting post to read. I don’t currently have a rating system for books but its something I’m considering doing with future books.

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      Thanks Kelly Diane! 🙂

  • shona August 30, 2020 at 10:07 am

    This is such a great way of rating books, love the personalisation, being an emotive/mood reader I totally get that some rating systems are too simple and don’t consider how you emotionally interact.

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 2:14 pm

      Thank you so much Shona! That’s exactly it like sometimes a book isn’t all that great but it makes you feel certain things so strongly that you love it anyway? I wanted to make sure that my system took that into consideration. 🙂

  • claire August 30, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    This is actually a genius idea! Some books deserve more than just a star based rating, others as you say are a well written book but that’s all it has to offer.

    Thank you so much for sharing x

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks Claire! 🙂

  • That Happy Reader August 30, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    This is such a great idea! I hate the 5 star system and always want to lean towards 1/2 stars or going to a 10 star system. Thanks for the giving me food for thought.

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      Yeah it’s a weird one isn’t it? I think especially since the 5 star rating can mean different things to every single person. Glad you enjoyed it and hope you find the system that works best for you. 🙂

  • Mazciel August 30, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Really interesting! ☺️I personally don’t give star ratings anymore because I find it too stressful and sometimes I’ll change my mind on a book weeks after reading it.

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 2:28 pm

      That’s understandable Mazciel! It can be pretty intense to feel like you have to rate everything so fast that it doesn’t really have time to settle? I think that’s why this system works so well for me because it means I have to sit down and organise my thoughts for each category and the overall score is out of my control. 🙂

  • Kortnee August 30, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Wow! This is such a scientific way to approach it and I love that. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you so much Kortnee! 🙂

  • Joseph Harrison August 30, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Very thorough blog!

    I need to get back into reading!

    Joseph

    • Hayley September 2, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks Joseph!

  • […] so eloquently and with such powerful emotion that it received one of the highest scores from my rating system so far – 46/50. So today I’ll be sharing my full review of The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke […]

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    I'm Hayley - a 30 year old book blogger from the UK. Also: chronic overthinker, introvert, homebody and mum.

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