Discussion: Why I Want to Stop Rating Books One Star

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Since I started using Goodreads about a year ago, I have put 15 books on my 1-star shelf. And for every single one of those books, seeing that 1-star rating makes me feel so guilty. 

 There are a few reasons for this. One is that, to me, rating a book 1-star feels like saying “this is trash,” or “this book is worthless,” or “this book shouldn’t have even been written.”

Maybe I’m overly sensitive or too nice, but that just seems so harsh!! Even when I haaate a book with everything in me (kind of how like how I feel about squash, zuchinni, and avocados) for some reason it feels wrong to give it that 1-star rating.

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Part of this is because I’m a writer. I have only finished two novellas so far, and it is hard. I haven’t even made it to revising yet, and writing is hard. Getting that first draft down takes everything in me. I’m about 8k in to two different projects right now, and every single word is a battle against my brain. And I can’t imagine revising and editing being any easier.

So knowing what I know about writing, knowing just a tiny bit how much sheer willpower, work, and patience it takes makes me feel not quite right about rating a book 1-star. (Also, every time I rate a book 1 star I worry the author will see my review and be heartbroken, and guys, I can’t take that kind of responsibility :'(. )1.5 stars I can do, because then I feel like I’m at least acknowledging a book’s worth, even if I hate it and want to make that clear.

Also, I think every book has some worth. Every book is going to mean something for someone. Every book has some message to share, (even if that message is what not to do.) 

Knowing how much effort and care each author puts into their book, as well as believing that every book has value, is what makes me not like rating books 1 star.

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I haven’t decided if I will completely stop rating books 1 star or what. Having 1 star ratings does make it easier for the other, higher ratings to mean something; rating one book 1 star and another 4 stars makes the 4 star rating mean the book is really good, instead of “oh, yeah, this book was pretty great!” I don’t know. It would be nice if Goodreads would give us an option to give half stars, but that’s never going to happen. *sniffs*

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Okay, so is it just me who feels guilty about rating books 1 star, or do any of you feel the same? What star-rating do you give most often? What’s a book you really hated, but thought maybe it contained something positive?

25 thoughts on “Discussion: Why I Want to Stop Rating Books One Star

  1. I totally understand you! I don’t rate usually with one star but I give a lot fo three stars.
    I always try to give good reason why I gave one star. Especially because I’m a writer too. I would hate to read super short review that say nothing. As a writer I would know why someone didn’t like my book as much as why loved it.
    But usually when I rate with one star I really hated the whole story 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, three stars is a really common rating for me too!
      Definitely. I hate seeing reviews where someone’s like, “urrr it was dumb” or something as a reason. Like, the author poured their whole heart into this book!
      I’m glad i’m not the only one, haha!
      Pretty much xD.

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  2. i think the only book that i have rated one star on goodreads is 50 Shades of Grey. However, i think that that’s PROBABLY warranted?? 😛
    otherwise, i don’t think i’ve rated anything 1 star?? it would literally have to be the scum of the earth for me to do that. 2 stars is more common for me i suppose then?? but even then, those are super rare for me because i am not reading like 9+ books per month so i tend to pick ones that are colloquially loved by people whose opinions i trust?? I DON’T EVEN KNOW DUDE.
    this was a super interesting discussion, 10/10 would discuss again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah okay maybe that one does deserve 1 star xD.
      Right!! I have very, very few low ratings because I only read books I know i will love! Or at least like/tolerate! I feel like some reviewers LIKE rating books badly. I don’t get that.
      Haha, thanks!! I have kind of a follow up discussion on the same topic in the works right now.

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  3. OH I totally get the feeling. I’m always a bit nervous to rate a book one star – I barely ever do this, because I mostly invest in books I’m sure I will enjoy a little bit so… haven’t rated a book less than 3 stars for the past two years and it is GREAT haha. I would feel nervous to put one star, and, wrong, for the very same reasons as you: I’m a writer and I so get how hard it is to write a book… It feels a tiny bit cruel to do that, but… some problematic books DOES deserve to have one stars-rating, so we know what to expect and what’s wrong with a book.
    Great post ! 🙂

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    1. Right!! i don’t really see the point of reading books I know I will rate less than 3 stars. If I hate it I DNF it and leave it without a rating, but I try super hard to only read books I know I’ll love. That’s great you’ve had such good luck with books lately! Especially since you have to buy each one, that would make it scary to take a risk on a book, haha.
      Yeah, I definitely see why people give 1 stars, but it always feels a tiny bit cruel xD.
      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, it is definitely scary…Which is why, whenever I order books…it takes me approximately one week to decide which books to take. No kidding hahaha.
        You’re welcome! ❤

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  4. So, I’m the odd one out on this discussion. One star means, and I quote from GoodReads “did not like it”. If the system doesn’t let you honestly say that you didn’t like a book, then the system is flawed. A one star rating doesn’t mean “I hated this book” or “I can’t believe the author gets away with publishing junk like this!”. It means I (and that’s a personal pronoun) did not care for this book. The reasons are myriad why I may not like it, but simply using a one star rating doesn’t mean anything more than I didn’t like it. And yes, I am also a writer. And yes, I use the one star whenever I don’t like a book.

    Another reason I think it works well to use one star is because the people I follow are people I tend to know personally. If someone I know doesn’t like a book, then I can often tell whether I will like it or not based on how similar/dissimilar I am to the person who provided the rating.

    I’m glad no one but Lenna knows where I live since I’m sure I’ve just created a firestorm of opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are good points! I think my problem is that for a lot of big reviewers, 1 star can also mean “this book was ‘problematic'” or “no one should read this book because it is trash.” Even though that’s kind of dramatic and definitely not everyone’s one star rating means that, I wouldn’t want to come across that way just by giving a 1 star that I intended to mean I didn’t like the book. I don’t know! I’ll have to think about that!

      Yeah, that’s why I definitely think it’s important to have a lower rating option! There are some reviewers I follow that are always honest, and so seeing a 1 star from them makes me know to for sure avoid that book.

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    1. Haha, don’t feel guilty if you honestly didn’t like it! No, yeah, I agree with you that it is important to be honest.
      I guess that could be the case xD. I don’t know… I don’t think I’ve tried guacamole! It always smells/looks to gross xD.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I very rarely give books one star ratings, but that’s mainly because I must be lucky enough to never find any books that give me such strong negative feelings. I don’t really feel very guilty about it, unless I write an actual review, then I’d get paranoid that the author would find it.

    I get what you mean about writing being hard. I’m in the middle of a huge writing project and the thought of showing it to people makes me so anxious because I get so worried that they’ll hate it 😬

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    1. Right?? I’m always afraid the author will see my review and be crushed. Which honestly I don’t have that much power, but still, I worry xD.
      It is scary!! I’m not worried so much about people seeing it as much as I’m worried about it not being finished/good enough. It’s rough!! I’m kind of impressed we writers to this to ourselves…xD. And I’m sure your WIP is amazing!! Good luck!

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  6. I hardly ever give one star, unless the book was emotionally or otherwise offensive. Usually, if I hate the book, it’s 2 stars. I always try to look for a few points in a book that I like. I do think that it is certainly okay, even as writers, to give out one-star ratings. We are only human, after all, and not every book can be for everyone and in the end the most important thing for an author is honesty.

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    1. That’s totally reasonable! I’ve definitely done that a couple times. I think you’re right though, that ultimately there’s nothing wrong with it. Honesty is definitely important… I just need to get over that hurdle of feeling guilty xD.

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  7. I don’t feel bad! Okay, sometimes when it’s an ARC but if it’s a book I didn’t like I AM NOT GOING TO SUGAR COAT IT! I will give it 1 stars but I do sometimes say ‘you might like this book! Give it a shot” even if ~I~ personally didn’t like it. I do see where you are coming from though. Books DO HAVE WORTH, but 1 stars means I DIDN’T LIKE THIS BOOK as oppose to THIS BOOK IS TRASH. IMO

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    1. Yeah!! I get that according to the goodreads rating system 1 star only means “i didn’t like this.” I just overanalyze xD. I’m glad you don’t feel like you have to sugarcoat! I think honesty is super important in reviews.

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