A More Detailed Way of Rating Books

I’m updating my list of short book reviews – it’s slow going, but it’s coming along.

Normally when I finish reading a book, I’ve been rating it out of 10, and then turning that into a 5 star rating for Goodreads. After rating so many books with similar ratings, I’ve concluded that I need to make a more detailed rating system to be a little more objective about rating books. The rating system I’ve made has 5 categories I consider important in books, with 50 total points, and is easily converted to a 5 star rating.

Writing Quality: Is it written well? How often did you put it down, and was it for positive or negative reasons?

  • 0 – The editor had a heart attack
  • 3 – Difficult to get through
  • 5 – Could be better, could be worse
  • 7 – Pretty well written
  • 10 – I couldn’t put it down or didn’t want to stop

Good writing is subjective, but important. Some books have great reasons to read them despite being badly written, but bad writing gets in the way of enjoyment or learning.

Accuracy/Believability/Content: How accurate, usable, or revolutionary is the information? Or how accurate is the book’s setting? How believable is the information – is it too good to be true? Or how believable are the story and characters?

  • 0 – Complete bullshit/What story? What characters?
  • 3 – A lot of misinformation/stretching my suspension of disbelief
  • 5 – Some information could be better/the story could be worse
  • 7 – Learned a few new things/pretty good story
  • 10 – Revolutionary book that changed my life/one of the greatest stories in human literature

A good book isn’t just written well, the content is also amazing. It should teach you something useful, the information should be true, or the story should be brilliant.

Rereading: Do I want to reread this? If this is a reread, has it changed how I feel about the book?

  • 0 – Don’t mention this book to me ever again
  • 3 – I’d rather not reread this
  • 5 – I could reread this if I’m bored
  • 7 – There’s some value in rereading this
  • 10 – I’m going to reread this multiple times in my life

Good books aren’t just read once; the best books get read more than a dozen times. Each reading should teach something different or give a new perspective.

Gifting or Recommending: If an open-minded person with an interest in the genre/topic was looking for their next book, would you gift or recommend this? If the book is controversial or the author is disliked, is there a reason people should read it anyway?

  • 0 – I wouldn’t give this to my worst enemy
  • 3 – It would be better if they read something else
  • 5 – Maybe I’d recommend it, maybe not
  • 7 – I’d consider giving/recommending it
  • 10 – I would be proud to give it to them, and if they’ve already read it I want them to read it again

If a book is really good, I want to recommend it to people – and I want to give the best books to people I care about most, to enrich their lives. If I can’t do that, it’s a problem.

Longevity: Will this book be readable, useful, or interesting to readers in the future? Would it be better for them to read a different book in the same genre/topic?

  • 0 – Dead on arrival
  • 3 – Already has huge issues, and will only get worse in the coming years
  • 5 – A handful of issues, but future readers will still get something out of it
  • 7 – Maybe there’s an issue or two, but still good/useful for the foreseeable future
  • 10 – Timeless, a book people will read/have read for centuries without issue

Every book carries a risk of becoming outdated, or of showing off the ignorance of the times. The best books are timeless, and will be read long after the author has died.

There’s still plenty of room for personal opinion – the point is to make my ratings a little more objective, not spend hours judging punctuation or fact-checking the whole book.

Terrible books will still get a handful of points, and really good books will lose a few points unless they’re perfect – both are better than just saying “That was great/terrible!”

Has anyone done something like this before? Probably, but most people don’t. Then again, most people don’t read as much as I do, and don’t need to be be that detailed.