I've been making it through a lot of books here recently, thanks to some recent requests from Netgalley and a couple of trips to the public library. There's a big pile of new releases that I'm really looking forward to this summer, so reading is at the top of my "spare time" list (but then again, when is it not?)
I thought I'd spend a little time talking about the rating system I use. I've been using Goodreads to keep track of and rate the books I read since 2007 (I can't believe it's been that long), so naturally I use their 5 star rating. However, my ratings go a little further than just those little phrases they use to explain each one.
A 5-star rating is one that I give to a book that I absolutely ADORE. One that I fall in love with from the very first page and then feel sad when it's over and I have to leave that world. These aren't always technically or stylistically perfect books; they sometimes have flaws, but the story and the characters and the writing combine to keep me completely immersed in their world during the entire time I'm reading. Sometimes these are genre books, and sometimes they are literary fiction. Some are adult novels, some are YA fiction, some are children's books. That doesn't matter, though -- a good story is a good story.
A 4-star book is a good book. It's a book that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to someone else. In many ways, 4-star books are a lot like 5-star books (sometimes, 4-star books are technically or stylistically BETTER than 5-star books) -- the one thing they are missing is that elusive magic that makes me really CONNECT with a book. 4-star books are books that I enjoyed fully.
A 3-star book is an okay book. It's one that I enjoyed reading, for the most part, but there's usually something about it that just doesn't sit right with me -- I have complaints about the author's style or about the world they've created. Those things aren't huge issues, in that they don't make me consider not finishing a book. In fact, they usually won't keep me from recommending a book, but they do warrant a comment when I'm reviewing the book.
A 2-star book is an okay book with some pretty big issues in terms of character or world-building or plot or author's style. This usually ends up being a book whose premise I find interesting (on the book jacket or in a review blurb) but the author really fails to deliver the goods. It's a book that I'll finish but only because I've already invested some time in it and I might as well complete it. I usually won't recommend a book with this rating, or at least not without a warning.
Books with 1-star ratings are just yuck. Most of the time there are major issues with the content and the style, and I usually just skim through them. There are very few books that I don't finish -- it's just a quirk I have, that no matter how bad a book is, I still have to finish it. I think it's because there have been times when a book takes longer than 50 pages to really grab me and keep me reading. Most of the time I know when a book is going to get a 1-star rating early on, but I still feel the need to know what happens, even if I don't particularly care. It's weird, I know.