Discussion: On Changing Ratings

discussion

I realized I hadn’t done a discussion in a while — not for lack of desire but when things get hectic, I usually have less time to sit down and THINK about things and write them up — so after mentioning this on Twitter, Estelle happened to comment and ask for my thoughts on her review of I Was Here by Gayle Forman, which was both related and unrelated all at the same time. She thought our opinions differed a little bit and wanted to see my reaction about her thoughts, and after reading Estelle’s post (and general reflection on my feelings about the book once again), I decided to change my rating.

Now this isn’t something I normally do. Usually my feelings are best assessed immediately upon finishing a book. Everything is fresh in my mind — both feelings and plot — and so I can make a very informed and confident decision. But there are some books that need a little more time before I can put my final rating on it and I Was Here was one of them. I actually DID wait to write my review (and not just because I was lazy — because I was actually unsure of how I felt) and when I finally did post it, it was much longer than I anticipated… But going back to what I wrote really felt like I was justifying my rating instead of simply relaying my thoughts on the book. Why??? Yes, it’s true that I made this decision after I read reviews from other people and yes, it’s true that they pointed out things that I maybe hadn’t noticed BUT that’s not the reason I’m changing my rating. They were all only saying things that I already felt but almost tried to cover up and convince myself weren’t a big deal.

You see, I’m a HUGE Gayle Forman fan. Her If I Stay and Just One Day duologies are some of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS EVER. I was afraid with Just One Day that I wasn’t going to love it as much as If I Stay and Where She Went and I really felt the pressure to fall in love with a new book from my favorite author. I felt a teensy bit unsure when I finished because Just One Day was different in its own ways and yet I KNOW that I fell in love with the characters, with the setting, with the plot, and all of the book’s little nuances, so when I finished I Was Here, I was sure that it was the same situation. That little sliver of doubt was just the fact that the book was different, I told myself. It was more plot-heavy than character-driven and that’s why it felt so different. Well yes, that’s true, but REALLY looking back on the book? I didn’t love it. I still liked it plenty and Gayle’s writing is always impressive, but I really and truly was missing those personal connections to the characters — both the personality connection with the main character and the swooning connection with the love interest. They were both there but not quite enough for me to totally fall in love. Deep down, I really did know it but I just didn’t want to admit that I didn’t LOVE a book by one of my all-time favorite authors. I Was Here is still pre-ordered and I will still treasure my copy, but I can tell that it does need a bit of a rating adjustment.

So how do I need to know if I should change my rating? It’s not something I take lightly because I don’t want to believe I was influenced by someone else or something else other than my level of enjoyment as I was reading and how I felt afterwards. Here are a few questions I’ve started to ask myself as I’m gathering my thoughts to write my review:

DID I HAVE EXPECTATIONS?

I mean, of course before I start ANY book, I have expectations but were they high? Were they low? Did this book fail to live up to what I thought it was going to be and therefore rated too harshly? Or did I rate it higher because I WANTED it to live up to those expectations? Or was I MORE impressed because it surpassed my expectations?
RATING CHANGED FOR: I Was Here (bumped down from 4.5 stars to 4 stars)

DID I GET CAUGHT UP IN THE HYPE?

Let’s face it. Being a book blogger sometimes means reading hugely anticipated titles before or right around the release day. Any books that are by favorite authors or sounds unique or exciting automatically get hyped, even without the readers meaning to do so. That means that any of these big titles can get quite intimidating and I feel the pressure to agree with all of the amazing reviews and opinions floating around.
Sometimes if I read a book that was seriously hyped, I feel like I SHOULD have loved it, even if I didn’t. It’s stupid, right? I don’t need to fluff up my rating just to agree with the masses. I think, “Oh, I really did enjoy that. YOU’RE RIGHT” and I ended up giving a half star more than I might, here or there. Even looking back now, I really did enjoy The Winner’s Curse and even looking back on The Winner’s Crime… I really, really enjoy CRIME but the fact that I didn’t love CURSE still hung over my head. I stuck with my 4-star ratings on CURSE, but I think I’m bumping my rating down for CRIME. I bumped it up a quarter star due to the ending but the ending can’t save the book every time!
RATING CHANGED FOR: The Winner’s Crime (bumped down from 4.5 stars to 4.25 stars)

DO I FEEL THE URGE TO RE-READ THE BOOK?

This more applies to the higher ratings than anything, but actually anywhere between 3.75 and 4.5 stars are the hardest ratings for me to pick and the ones that tend to get changed the most! If I rate it two or three stars, chances are there are very solid reasons why and that rating isn’t going anywhere. My rating scale varies from the “traditional” scale so anything above a 4 means there’s a chance I’ll re-read and 4.5 to 5  is definite re-read material. Do I REALLY want to re-read I Was Here? Maybe someday but it’s not an immediate pull that I’ve had with other books so that tells me it should be more of a 4.25 rating than a 4.5.
RATING SOLIDIFIED: The Start of Me and You (4 stars)


So what are your thoughts, friends? Do you ever change ratings? If you have, what are the reasons why you decided to make the change? Were they any of the same thoughts I had here? I’d love to hear your feedback! What prompts you to re-assess your feelings on a book?

23 thoughts on “Discussion: On Changing Ratings

  1. Cynthia

    Great post! Sometimes I will put a number in for Goodreads and Amazon, or I will have a number in mind when starting my review on my blog. But there have been times when I start writing my thoughts and really thinking about it my number will change.

  2. Andi

    I have never changed a rating because like you I go with my feeling after I finish a book. In that moment that is how the book makes me feel and I stand by that. I have not rated a book because I have been unsure on how I actually feel about it. And I have actually reread a book I hated the first go because I was too hyped up about it and that changed my initial reaction a lot. After I separated myself from the hype and sat down and read it again I got a whole new feel for the book.

    Ratings are actually hard because sometimes a person reads a book at just the right time in their life. It could be the worst book ever written but they give it 5 stars because it was what they needed when they read it. I am one of these people and I stand by it.

    Great topic B!

  3. Danielle @ Love at First Page

    Great discussion, lady! I always give an immediate rating, but I’ve been known to change them after I write reviews or even discuss the book with friends. Usually it means I rate it lower, but sometimes I do end up going higher. It’s why I’ve recently updated my rating system (instead of doing 3, 3.5, and 4, I now do 3, 3-3.5, 3.5-4, and 4… makes it easier to express what I feel about a book). I also take into acct if I will ever re-read the book or least skim through it; if I don’t think I will, I never rate it higher than a 3.5-4 stars.

  4. ideklinz

    This is a GREAT post! Two things: 1) yes I have changed a rating for a book. It was a book that seemed like an original idea, executed well and I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I think on Goodreads I rated it as being 4-stars. But then when i started reading some of the ratings/reviews, I dove deeper into learning that this author had some bad behavior. Bad behavior as in, her other decently well-known author friend had gotten some negative reviews about their book and helped book bash reviewers. Sorry, you don’t get to do that. So I think I brought my rating down to a 1 or 2. That impacted the way I viewed the book, even though the work I had read kept me interested. Maybe it shouldn’t but people do this all the time. Bad customer service? You don’t buy anything from that store again.

    2) I totally understand where you’re coming from in regards to this novel. I have heard some pretty serious mixed reviews about it, and I’ll still buy it but I think that’s what makes you a better blogger…to be HONEST. I’ve seen a ton of friends who are bloggers bow down to authors and a lot of the times I question just how genuine it is. Sorry to say it, but I think some lay it on thick and that feels so untruthful. But if no one reviewed of how they truly felt then everyone would buy things they didn’t like because all of the reviews were “oh i love this” “best book i’ve ever read” “delivers once again”…it’s good to be honest because as a person who reads up on blogs and reviews, it’s what keeps me coming back. And not everyone loves EVERYTHING they read. There’s an author I just keep trying out but out of the 3 books I’ve read from this author only 1 I liked a lot more than the others…I still keep believing the hype even though her books (TO ME) aren’t just worth buying.

    Anyway…that’s how I feel about this 🙂

  5. April @ Between the Pages

    I tend to keep whatever rating I chose when I finish the book, however there have been a few times that I have either not rated right away or went back and forth between two different ratings, finally choosing a rating after I have written the review. I have also found myself re-evaluating the rating after I read the review I have written, and have changed it once or twice if I feel like my review does not go along with the rating I gave the book. I also try not to let other people’s rating influence what I rate books, but there are times I look at the ratings a book has and go in with a preconceived notion of the how the book is going to be, then try and rate it on my own like or dislike.

  6. Elizabeth

    This is an interesting topic… I generally don’t change my ratings, though I did go back and remove my ratings on Goodreads for anything I read pre-blog because I basically 5-starred everything I read and liked and it was distorting my average ratings. I try to rate stuff soon after I finish and while I may not always agree with my ratings later, I try to recognize that my rating “system” is subjective and changes over time. I have some old ratings that I don’t really agree with, but they are a reflection of what I felt at the time and how I thought about ratings when I rated (for example, I used to be much more hesitant about giving less than 3 stars). Rating books is such a complicated, nuanced thing… I don’t think I will eve be entirely happy with all my ratings.

  7. Sarah @ Sarah Can't Stop Reading

    I have such a hard time with rating books! I find that I tend to rate books pretty high if I do it right after reading a book. There are times that I’ll go through my ratings and see books that I originally gave 5 stars to, but haven’t touched since. When that happens I tend to bump my rating down to 4.5 or even 4 stars.

  8. Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

    I love this post! I actually just did this where I changed my initial review of a book. I think it’s because I haven’t really been blown away by anything lately and then when I read a book that was more on the “good” than “bad” side of things I bump the rating up because it was better than some of the other books.

    I’m also guilty of letting the hype get to me. It’s hard to be the black sheep on something. There was a debut last year that everyone loved but it just wasn’t a “me book.” I wanted to love it but I just didn’t. It wasn’t that the book was bad, it just wasn’t for me. It felt weird rating so low when it was totally person. I just gave it a very short review and rated it the way I initially thought.

    Great discussion. It’s incredibly hard rating books sometimes and I really feel like I should change my thoughts sometimes after I sleep on it.

  9. Jennifer

    I try really hard not to, but I do have 2 exceptions. One being if I DNF’d a book and pick it back up and finish it, in turn giving it a rating that reflects the book. Or, if I reread a book that I once gave a poor rating to and it turns out all it needed was a second chance. I get tempted to change ratings after reading other reviews, it’s hard not too. People pick up different things than I do, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Reading other reviews gives you a chance to see other points of view that you might not have seen the first time.

  10. Nova @ Out of Time

    I think that it’s all about how you review. If you plan out your review first and then rate, the chances of needing to change ratings are a lot lower. However, what I do is I make an “estimated rating.” Then I write the reviw with the rating in mind. After, I’ll reread the review and the make changes to the rating if necessary. Sometimes, I’ll be like “I LOVE THIS” and then when I read the review, I’m like “maybe I didn’t love it so much….”

    This is really thought provoking, though. thanks for sharing!

  11. Cee

    I think I’ve changed ratings a few times, and I really don’t like to do that. I usually have the review and rating all posted, but then a few months later, I look back on the review and think, “that doesn’t feel like that’s the accurate rating for this book.” It happens for books I was already apprehensive about. It can’t be helped though because I feel like the changes happen because I have different tastes than when I originally read it and because I feel guilty because I want to like it (and was so close to but nope).

  12. Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books

    UGHHH I’ve been a ratings mess lately. I feel like I find myself liking a book and then reading someone’s criticisms and agreeing with them and thinking maybe I didn’t like it as much as I thought I did?? And then there are books that I find myself thinking about YEARS later and when I look I see that I only gave them 3 stars. If the book made that big of an impact on me that I think of it often 2 or 3 years later, maybe it should have been a 4 or 5 star book?? So then I think about changing it. I almost just don’t want to rate anymore 🙁

  13. Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

    Ratings are the bane of my existence. I looked at my ratings from last year and felt that i rated a little high. So this year I have been trying to make an effort to even out my ratings a bit more and I have been really asking myself “Did I just like it?” or “Did I REALLY like it” 5 star books are pretty clear to me, it’s those 2-3-4 star ratings that I feel are a little skewed. But now I feel like I am being too harsh and with the negative connotation surrounding 3 stars, I feel like I am doing a disservice to some books by rating them 3 stars (like Rebound) But that’s not quite what you are talking about, it’s just something that’s been on my mind.

    I have been inclined to change my ratings after sitting on my feelings for a little bit, or discussing with someone who points out quite a few good critical points (or conversely, favorable points). I actually decreased my rating of I Was Here from 3 stars to 2 stars after writing my review because I just didn’t really care for it, which was made obvious after getting my feelings out. It’s so easy to confuse how you WANT to feel with how you ACTUALLY feel and to get swept up in the hype. Ratings are tricky. And that’s why I always stress over them hah. I think it’s common though, and it’s ok.

  14. Alexa S.

    I don’t change ratings very often, if I’m being honest! There will be times when I do go back and out of my way to change it on Goodreads. But more often than not, I stick to my first impression of the book when I’ve finished and marked it that way on Goodreads. My affection for a book can change and can fluctuate, I’ll admit, but only rarely will it really inspire me to go out of my way to change a rating 🙂

  15. Terri @ Reading By Starlight

    Rereads are a huge part of my ratings system. If I have no desire to reread the book, it usually doesn’t get 4 or 5 stars unless it’s one of those books that hurts you to read but in a profound way. For example, I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and gave it 4 stars. I might promote it to 5, but I probably won’t reread it because reading about prisoners of war and torture is just not fun. It was good to read and POWERFUL, but it’s not a pleasure read.

    For other (less painful) books, if I find myself wanting to reread it, then I’m more likely to up the star rating after 6 months or a year. I don’t have a problem with it, because just like opinions on books change over time, I want my rating to be a reflection of how I feel about a book right now. That’s going to be more helpful to someone seeking out my review or looking at multiple peoples’ reviews of a book than what I thought a year or two ago. BUT that’s just me. A lot of people don’t like to change their ratings, and that’s totally fine!

  16. Hannah @ So Obsessed With

    Oh, I love this post! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I changed a number of ratings at the end of 2014 when I was reflecting on what I’d read that year. When I finish a book, I’ll immediately mark it as read on Goodreads and give it an initial rating. So, the first reason I’ll change a rating is when I finally sit down to write a review. I don’t like writing a review immediately after finishing a book because I usually need to let a book sit in my brain for a bit. The reviews I’ve written right after finishing a book are the ones I usually feel are the least representative of my ultimate feelings for a book. Not always, but often. When I finally write my review, I’ll then look back at my rating and adjust it.

    And the other big reason I’ll change my rating is if it becomes more/less memorable over time. If I can’t get a book out of my mind, I’ll raise the rating. If I’ve totally forgotten a book, I’ll lower the rating. And I can definitely notice times when the hype has affected my rating! The question of whether or not I’d re-read plays a HUGE role in my rating, too, since I love re-reading. If I don’t think I’d re-read (even if I think I loved a book), that tells me a lot about how I felt about the book overall. It’s a challenge. I don’t include star ratings in my reviews for this reason, though I did add the “phrase ratings” (So Loved It, etc.) because I wanted to summarize my feelings for a book. But I don’t change my ratings in Goodreads that often – I usually just tweak them in my personal spreadsheet where I track my reading. Even when I adjust a rating, I’ve never felt the need to adjust an actual review. I’m better at writing out my feelings than I am about assigning them a number!

  17. Olivia

    I do think it is alright to change ratings. At the beginning of blogging I realized I needed a day or two after finishing the book before I pegged a rating on it because it was an impulse rating, according to what I call it xD I need time to think about things. And sometimes I do change my rating with time. For example, my rating on Seraphina highered, and the ones on Allegiant and especially the Hunger Games lowered a lot. I think it is easy to get caught up in the hype of some books, and the struggle of not letting affect the rating is real…

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