The Bibliofile Rating System


So, I probably should have written this post a long time ago, since I’ve gotten questions about it in the past. But I wanted to clarify my rating system. The rating system I use is based on an adjusted bell curve out of a 5-point score with a 3 being considered the average. What this means is that my ratings probably seem low.

The TLDR version:

4.8+ Favorite Books
4.5+ Loved It
4.0 Starred Books
3.5 Recommended
3 Average
2.5 (or under) Not Recommended
1 Skip It

Why I Use This System

An average book, so something decent but imperfect will get around a 3.0-3.5. I know that for some people this sounds like a terrible rating, but for me this is a book that, for the right reader, is probably an enjoyable read.

I’m aware lots of people assign 4s to book that are “good, but not perfect”, but I do not.

The reason I use my system instead of handing out 4s and 5s to every book is that I really wanted something to differentiate the true classics and really brilliant books from the really good, but not quite must-read books.

For example, A Man Called Ove is a book that many people love and that I found surprisingly good. But to me, there needed to be a way to differentiate it from books like Slaughterhouse-Five that are genuinely brilliant and worthy of being studied page by page.

At the same time, I didn’t want to lump A Man Called Ove in with books that are merely “okay-ish” books, since it really is a delightful little novel that I think many would enjoy.

The point of all this is simply to say that I use this system to be able to try to differentiate books (for people who like numerical ratings attached to things), but that means not every book can get a 4 or a 5. Some books that I think have some merit will get lower scores.

So, if a book you love (or a book you wrote) got a lower score than you’d like, I really recommend that you ignore the number altogether. Even a book that gets a 2.5, even if it’s not one that I’d recommend, but there’s probably people out there who would enjoy it, and that’s fine!

Why My Ratings are Different on Goodreads

Note that I do not use this rating system on Goodreads or Amazon. This is because I understand how important a high aggregate rating is for sales, and anything less than 4 or 5 is basically trashing a book. So, my scores on Goodreads are different from the ones you’ll find on the site.

Anyway, I’m going to link to this post when anyone clicks on the scores that I assign, so hopefully that will reduce the amount of angst people feel when a lower rating than they expect appears.

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