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Goodreads uses a 5 star rating system with the following definitions:

1 star 1 star – didn’t like it

2 stars 2 stars – it was OK

3 stars 3 stars – liked it

4 stars 4 stars – really liked it

5 stars 5 stars – it was amazing

I do wish goodreads had half stars and some people assign half stars in their reviews. I saw one author tweet that 4.5 stars should be rounded up to 5 stars. I think that discounts the value of 5 stars, but I didn’t want to start an argument on twitter.

Authors tend to worry too much about the ratings and some think their books should only get 4 and 5 stars, but by this rating system, 3 stars is good. Actually this rating system only asks if you like the book, not if you think it is good or well written. I have no problem recommending books I didn’t like to people with different tastes.

If I’m not sure about a book, I read the one and two star (and sometimes three star, because not everyone uses the stated definitions) reviews to see if the things they didn’t like would bother me. You can click on filter at the top of the community ratings section to select which star rating you want to see. I only worry about the rating of books when the average is less than 3 stars (remember 3 is good) and even then I consider how many times it’s been rated.

Star ratings without reviews aren’t much use to anyone except the person rating that book. Which is fine, you can use the site and the ratings any way that you like. Goodreads does not police the ratings at all and only removes reviews in extreme cases. Reviews without ratings are allowed too, but they aren’t accessible by star filtering.

Maybe there would be fewer bad ratings if it was easier to find books you like and avoid the ones you don’t enjoy. Publishers, authors and marketers too often try to sell all books to everyone instead of targeting people who are likely to love the book. Covers can be misleading, genres aren’t clear and series numbers aren’t always marked.

Thanks for reading.