Fairytale News | Rating and enjoyment level.


'Mel on reading' is a little feature I created as part of my Fairytale news. It's my way to show my thoughts on topics that go from pet peeves in reading to my favorite things in books.

Ratings can be difficult. I talked last time about changing my ratings from older books, but for me there is also a thing as ‘enjoyment level.’ Which means that a favorite book doesn’t have to be a book with a 5/5+ rating. It can be that I connect with it on a personal level and that it touched me or I just really enjoyed the story – but that doesn’t have to mean it was good enough for a high rating. I’ve encountered several books where the plot wasn’t that strong or the characters weren’t fantastic, but there was something about the book that gave me a good feeling. So the rating might be 3 flowers, but it could still deserve a ‘favorite’ label.

It can also mean that I liked every aspect of a story when I break it down in my review, but I have an okay feeling about it. Good characters, interesting plot, fun romance; and I will give it a 3 flower rating anyway. Most of the times it has to do with the writing-style and the atmosphere in the book. Having all the things I look for in a story doesn’t automatically mean I love the book. I have to feel a connection with all those aspects in order to feel wrapped into the story.

Sometimes there are also those type of books that are incredibly flawed, but you still enjoy them. One of the examples I can give you is my rating from Leah Cypress book Death Sworn, which was based on how much I liked it and how much the overall story was actually worth. And that is the ‘enjoyment level’ for me. The feeling a book gives me when I close it.

How about you? Are all your favorite books automatically a 5-rating? Do you have such a thing as an enjoyment level like me?

58 comments

  1. Rating is so difficult for me--I've pondered similar things. I typically only give a 5 star (these days but I used to give 5 stars a lot more often) to a book that I completely loved, was swept away from and consider to be a very favorite. Something that I must have for my collection. great post Melanie!

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  2. I agree with you - I can give a book a '5 star rating' for its overall FLAWLESSNESS, but that doesn't mean it instantly becomes a favourite... if it has all these elements as well as reaching me on a personal level, fantastic! What I classify 'favourites' as are books that aren't exactly THE BEST BOOKS EVER, but those that make me nostalgic for the time I was actually living inside the pages :)

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    1. Exactly! The ones that give me all the feelings :)

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  3. I don't rate books on my blog, I only talk about the ones I love. Then I describe what I liked about them. I love doing it like this, but it means I need to read more books than I review which can be a pain if I have a few books in a row that I don't like. I love the star system though, but it also confuses me. I can never decide if five stars is for those very rare overwhelming books or if they are for books that are the very best in their own genre.
    A great topic! There are books I enjoy very much that have flaws, but I also come across the opposite, books that are so well written, but something just doesn't click, there's no feeling or maybe even annoyance. That's such a pity. How do you rate those?

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    1. That is also a very interesting way of reviewing! Star systems can be a little confusing yes. Most of the times I end up rating those book 3 stars: it's good, but it didn't do the job for me.

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  4. I don't think that I rate all of my faves 5 stars. I had a lot of fave books that I only rated 4 or 4.5 (But not lower than that :D). When I finish a book, I usually try to stop and think for a few minutes. Compile all the bad and good, and rate it overall. I was easily swayed back then (especially if the romance was great. Haha ), so my rating was shaky back then, but no matter how simple a book is, if you love it. You'll love it :D

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  5. Enjoyment is a huge factor when I decide what to rate my books! I might not think a book is technically great but it could still be a four star or five star read if I really enjoyed my experience! Like I recently finished We Were Liars and wasn't too crazy about the actual story and the characters - just wasn't all there for me - but it was such a fast and enjoyable read for me that I gave it three stars instead of the two stars I might give to another book that was at the same level for me technically but just wasn't one I enjoyed reading as much.

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    1. Yes, that is precisely what I mean! Sometimes there are just those enjoyable books and it makes you 'cheat' on your rating :p

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  6. I actually, I think...no. Enjoyment factor is the most important to me therefore it weighs so much on decision. I do consider some factors like character development, world building, romance among others but it still boils down to my enjoyment. Plus, it's the reason why I love to read. :D

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  7. Ha, funny. For my ratings it's the exact opposite. My star ratings indicate how much I enjoyed reading it. It can still have its flaws but if I had fun reading it and it's a new favorite then it gets 5 stars :D

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  8. I rate all my books on Goodreads purely on enjoyment level which is why the ratings might be different than the ones compared to my blog reviews. I definitely pull everything apart more for in depth reviews so it means a 5 star on Goodreads might become a 3 or 4!

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    1. Ha, that is interesting! I really like that way of rating :)

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  9. For me personally, all my favorite books are 5 star reads, but I can definitely see why it might be different for some people. :D Thanks for sharing Mel - this is a really interesting discussion question and it's been really interesting reading everyone else's thoughts! :D

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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  10. Actually, my 5-star ratings are few and far between. Some of my favorites only made it to 4 or 4.5. When I give 5 stars, it's really to make a point. I only do it for books that touched me emotionally, as well as surprised me with quality. They're books I consider important in some way, timeless even. Those don't come around very often. Same goes for 1-star. I give even fewer of those.

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    1. I don't have many 5 stars (or 1 stars) either. I like that, because it shows that a 5 star is a really, really good book.

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  11. It's just the feeling. I write my reviews after a while, so if it still feels like a 5-star and I still love it and my mind hasn't picked it to pieces, that rating's going to stay. I find that I become even more skeptical once I start writing my review and the rating usually changes at that time. :D Great topic, Mel. My favorites are usually the high-ranked ones, the ones that swept me off my feet and still give me so much to enjoy after I finish reading it.

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    1. I have the same! That's why my Goodreads ratings are different from the blog rating sometimes. Reviews really put things in perspective :)

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  12. Oh great topic! I actually rate based on emotions and how much I loved a book as well, even though it wasn't technically the best book ever. I've thought about this before as well, but if I LOVED a book but there were some flaws I would usually still rate it a 4 or 5. Awesome discussion!

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  13. Deciding how to review can be excruciating for me me for the reasons you discussed previously AND for the ones you talk about here too. Sometimes a book can be flawed but for whatever reason it speaks to you at that time your life and becomes a favorite even though it didn't get a 5-star rating. I definitely understand your bit about 'enjoyment level' factoring in too. The right combination of elements I love doesn't always equal a 5-star/favorite read. The book just has to touch my heart or grab the very core of me so that despite the flaws it might have, I'd consider it a favorite all the same! Another fantastic topic Mel :) xxxx

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    1. Exactly! Having all the elements in a book doesn't mean that it speaks to you :)

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  14. Amazing post sweetie. <3 You are awesome Mel. Sigh. I am not sure, to be honest. If I really, really love a book it is a five star for me. I just go by my feelings when rating books ;p It may happen that I enjoy a book a little, but hated so many things about it. Which makes the rating very low :p Anyway. I try my best to rate books the way I feel when I read them :D

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  15. I definitely get what you mean. Sometimes, I can't find something I dislike about a book, yet I still end up giving it a 3 star rating. like you said, it has something to do with the atmosphere and the overall "feeling". Great post, Mel!
    - Farah @MajiBookshelf

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  16. I usually rate books based on my enjoyment rather than the actual aspects of the novel. I still make sure to take down everything that a different reader could love or hate, but still give a totally different rating than what you would expect from my review. It's also more of a feeling thing for me as well! :) Awesome post, Mel!

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  17. I totally understand where you are coming, Mel. I've had similar cases, too, where I was really enjoying the ride despite its numerous flaws. Sometimes I'm tempted to put two different ratings, but in the end, I opt to put them all together into one and just say in my review that I liked this and that and here and there. I still mainly rate how much I enjoyed it though... a book can be written really well with profound characters, but if I can't connect it, I won't be able to enjoy.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

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    1. I've also found that connection with the story and/or the characters is very important to me. If I don't feel it, it doesn't matter how good the writing-style and aspects like that are.

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  18. I feel the same way, I don't think I rate all books the same way, and I think that's ok. I like to give a book that I loved wholeheartedly a high rating, even if it's technically flawed :)

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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  19. Ratings are a funny thing. I feel very closely the same as you. Sometimes I feel a book doesn't deserve a high mark in the writing category, but my enjoyment level was high. I usually end up rating a book based on all around marks. 4 stars is usually the highest I will go with a book that has some flaws but I enjoyed a lot though. 5 star books are reserved for books I feel are written very well and I enjoyed a lot. I have a hard time finding 5 star books though.

    I do think my personal rating system is very subjective and based upon how I'm feeling when I finish the book, which is why I like to write at least a little bit of a review as well. :)

    Also, HI! I saw your comment on my blog. I responded, but decided to come check out your blog too. Can't remember if I've told you this already about your new layout, but I LOVE it! Very beauty and the beast-esque and very simple and elegant. <3

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    1. And goodness gracious, SO many run-on sentences and awkward grammar in that comment. Note to self: 1am is not a good time to post comments... ;)

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    2. I saw your comment :D I secretly stalk your blog by looking there every now and then in the hope to see something new. I thought you would love the lay-out! We have the similar taste. It's good to hear something from you again :)!

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  20. Rating is quite difficult... which is why I find it so arbitrary, in that a 3.5 for one book is pretty good for it and for another might be pretty bad. Oh well

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  21. I agree so much with this post! Sometimes I really enjoy a book but I still end up giving it a rating lower than 4 stars, because I know that it's a very flawed book. With most books, even if I really really enjoyed reading them, there's usually a tiny little aspect that makes me reluctant to give it 5 stars. However, some books I enjoy so much that I can overlook the flaws and still go ahead and give it 5 stars. A lot of my favourites are only 4 stars though. It all feels a little arbitrary sometimes. I often go back and wonder if I gave a book the correct rating. I also try and rate books relative to each other, sometimes. I compare books in my head and think, "I gave that one 2 stars, and this book is slightly better in x way, so I should give this book 2.5 stars."

    Cynthia @ Jellyfish Reads

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    1. Ratings can be so difficult huh? I agree, there are sometimes books where you just look past the flaws, because it's so entertaining :)

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  22. I'm pretty similar to you. My ratings tend to be based on the 'objective' points of my review: the characters, plot, structure, etc. My subjective thoughts are of course tied up in all of that, but generally, it's the more rational part of my reviewing. The books that go onto my 'favourites' shelf are the ones I get a special feeling from, that give me that tight feeling in the chest. Those can be either four or five stars — they aren't automatically the full rating. I suppose a three star could be a favourite too, though I've never had one yet.

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    1. I believe I have some 3-star books that have a favorite label, just because I felt connected to the story, but I know perfectly well that it's not fantastic.

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  23. I'm right there with you on the enjoyment level! Ratings are so tricky for me, I don't have them on my blog, but I'm forced to use them with GR. So many various elements involved. But definitely no, books have to EARN 5 stars.

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  24. I get what you're saying here. But books that I consider to be absolute favorites generally merit a five-star rating for me. My ratings in general have to balance my critical response as a reader and my emotional response, although I do try to be more objective. But if everything in the story just worked for me - regardless of technicalities - then it's going to be rated highly. I'll probably add in my review that there are problems, but for me they are negligible.

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    1. Very interesting to see how everyone uses another technique for rating. I also try to have a balance between opinion and objective :)

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  25. Most all of my ratings are simply based on enjoyment level. Usually that's explainable in more technical terms, but sometimes I just feel a rating and go with it. I may not have anything to complain about but I give a book four stars because it's simply not a five-star read for me. And the opposite happens, too; sometimes I have problems with a book but give it five-stars because I just loved it. I do wish at times that I could separate my ratings from feelings and instead rate more objectively, but I don't think that would feel right for me. It's funny that in something that should be, at least basically, cut and dry we're all able to interpret differently. :)

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    1. True! It's interesting how books can be read in so many different ways :D

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  26. I don't really like rating books, and only actually do it for Goodreads purposes, not in my actual review on my blog. When it comes to making those ratings though I rate them more on a personal level than on an elements level. So if I really enjoyed a book but it wasn't anything ground breaking, I'd still rate it with a 5 star rating. If I really disliked a book, the plot, the writing style etc, I'd give it a lower rating - however it may well have been a well crafted novel that others would enjoy. I guess, to an extent, the way I rate books doesn't work too well for those wanting an objective view of a book because I rate on a personal scale - one of the reasons I don't include them in my reviews.

    It's interesting to see how other's rate books.
    :-)
    Bits & Bobs

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    1. I think rating on a personal level is great too :) Especially if you know that you have the same taste as that reviewer; it can be helpful to see how they rate that book.

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  27. I definitely have an enjoyment level, and I don't know if I am consistent in my rating of them so I try to justify my rating in my review. I think I tend to rate flawed but fun books at 3 stars, and less-flawed but maybe less fun as 4 stars. (so I weigh quality more heavily than just entertainment value). But favorites no matter what usually end up 4 or 5 stars.

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  28. So I just checked my favourites shelf on Goodreads, and out of the 39 on there, only 3 aren't five stars.
    This is because my five star ratings are reserved for books that I think are practically perfect (for me), but funnily enough that doesn't automatically grant them onto the favourites shelf (I am extremely picky with which books I dub favourite).
    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "It can be that I connect with it on a personal level and that it touched me or I just really enjoyed the story", because that's how I really view a favourite book. Even though most of my favourites ARE five stars, they don't have to be.
    A favourite book really has to touch me, and most of the time if it DOES really truly get to me in an emotional way, I'll rate it a five star.
    But the non-five star favourites are stories that I have simply really enjoyed, and want to own, and want to read again. ;D

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    1. I'm picky when it comes to favorite books too!

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  29. You are completely spot on there. Yes just because I enjoyed it doesn't make it a great book. But I always find that hard to break it down in a way to figure out what I rate it in the end.

    I might have enjoyed it or zipped right through it but felt that huh...a lot of the things they did or used are so tired and over used or unoriginal etc but they did it well. Ultimately for me to 5 star a book I feel like it has to move me emotionally, I have to love it as well as feel like it brings something to the table that I haven't personally encountered before, or just wow me in a way that they did use something I've seen done countless times but they did it in such a unique way to make it fresh again, but I have to feel that connection with the characters.

    I know just what you mean about some books having all those things you normally looking for in a book but they just don't click with you so everything comes off as just a bit off center to you.

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    1. Agree, it need to feel something. Sometimes there are just stories you love.

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  30. Oooh, this is a really great post! I am always 100% trusting of your ratings Mel, haha! And I think it was very wise of you to point out the varying aspects to ratings that aren't the objective how-good-the-plot-was type of thing. In YA especially, I also definitely know a lot of those 3-star books that are a lot of fun read. A lot of the times, though, enjoyment level is personal like you said, so I think I try to keep ratings as objective as I can :) if I really enjoyed a book, I will write about that in the review.

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    1. That's good to hear :D I always try my hardest to give honest ratings.

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  31. Interesting! I always like hearing what people have to say about how they rate books. Since I'm an emotional reader more than analytical, I think my five star ratings are usually based on feelings and not necessarily an analysis of characters and plot and world building. Usually in my five star ratings, all of those things DO come together, but not always.
    Interesting discussion!! :)

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  32. Mine are automatically five stars, because somehow that just makes it easier to add them as favourites. It's interesting that you feel you don't have to rate them five stars - I guess they don't have to be perfect to be favourites, like you said :P

    My ratings are a bit confused, any how. I never used half stars, and I don't want to go back and adjust my ratings if I did start using them, because some books I've rated probably need half stars. Particularly 3 star books - 3 stars can either be 'meh it was alright' or 'it was good, but not good enough for 4 or 5 stars'.

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    1. Yes, it's not about perfection to me, it's how a book makes me feel :)

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  33. Definitely having this as well! And I experienced this quite a lot and I'm really torn on how I should rate the book. It's like 5 is definitely too much and 3 seems not enough. But 4 also seems lil bit too much and I'm always ending up with those "What should the stars be what what what" moment.
    Anyway, great post Mel! Definitely my first time I'm realizing those enjoyment level, but definitely experiencing a lot of it! :D

    Neysa @ Papier Revue

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  34. This conflict is one of the main reasons I decided to make up word graphics for my ratings as well! I include a regular star rating at the top of all my reviews, based on my Goodreads ratings and a more critical, less emotional rating, and I have word ratings that typically match up with these star ratings, but I can pick and choose depending. I recently read a book that I rated 2.5 stars, which usually gets stuck with the unfortunate "Unimpressive" rating, but I knew that I wasn't really unimpressed so much as bored, so I gave it the "Readable" rating, so I felt more sure of my rating because I was able to think beyond numbers. The emotional factor can be just as important, so it's great to work that into ratings.

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