Oh, the Guests! | I Guard My 5 Stars by Holly @ The Fox’s Hideaway

I Guard My 5 Stars Guest Post

I Guard My 5 Stars Guest Post

Hello! This week we’re excited to welcome Holly to the blog. She is the blogger behind The Fox’s Hideaway, a blog featuring book reviews, Top Ten Tuesday posts, and other fun posts. She’s here to share her opinion on rating books, and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts in response. After reading her guest post below, make sure to visit her blog and say hi to her on Twitter!

– Kelley & Asti

I Guard My 5 Star Ratings

Do any of you take a long time in deciding your ratings for books? Because I swear I spend more time doing that than I do in writing the actual review. I’m constantly going back and forth on them, especially when it comes to those half stars. If I DO use the half star, then I have to figure out if I should round up or down on Goodreads. Then I start wondering if anyone actually cares about the rating, or if it really reflects my feelings and opinions on a book exactly. And I turn it into this big, huge deal that takes up so much of my time. It especially takes me a long time when it comes to those amazing books that I’m not sure what to rate: 4.5 rounded up or 5 star all-time fave shelf? And that leads me to this guest post and a question for you all: do you guard your 5 stars? Because I do!


and by galaxy, I mean my bookshelf. :D

So when I first started blogging, I generally rated right after I finished a book. It was my immediate thoughts + all the feelings from a good ending. You know how it is. It’s like a book high. One that makes you see a book through rose-colored glasses. But after a few hours, or even days (hello book hangovers, amirite?), those highs wear down until you’re left thinking a lot more clearly about what you just read. At least for me. When I used to rate straightaway, my feelings would either stay the same or they would change a little bit more negatively after I would start analyzing the book for my review. And most of the time, those initial impressions after finishing were so much HIGHER than they should have been. But I had already rated it, and was I allowed to change that upon further reflection? Yes, but if I did that, then SO MANY books would have had different ratings, so I kept them all. But I changed my style of reviewing.

There are so many books I read in 2013, and even 2014, that have higher ratings than I would have given them had I read them now. It’s why I don’t rate until AFTER I review a book anymore. For example: Divergent? I was OBSESSED with it at the time, and you know, I thought I had loved Allegiant. But now every time I think back on it, I just want to yell at myself for giving it 4 stars because I don’t feel that way about it anymore. When I rated right after finishing, I didn’t let myself think critically about the book. I didn’t analyze it, or look further into my feelings. I didn’t ask myself: okay, but did I actually love it that much or am I just in that book high still or did the hype get me?  Upon more reflection, I can actually step back and let myself THINK instead of just feel. So many of the ratings, especially the 5 star ones, ended up being basically inflated. It was honestly what I felt when I rated it, but after time passed and I read more (and better) books, I started to wish I’d been less careless with them.

I think a LARGE part of why my reviewing and rating process has changed is because I’ve gotten more picky with books. When I read in high school, I tended to have genre phases, such as adult mystery, inspirational fiction, a stint in YA that didn’t last very long. But when I started blogging, it opened up my eyes to all the books I’d been missing, and all the ones I never would have found without this. I started gobbling up everything within reach, and through that, I became aware of typical tropes or character arcs or plotlines that didn’t sit well with me. I’ve figured out what does and doesn’t work for me (though sometimes that changes anyway, but that all depends on how well an author gets the job done, so to speak). And through that, I’ve become a lot more particular on calling a book a favorite. It has to be really special to get a 5 star from me.

And this all brings me back to a point (because I know I do have one, somewhere in here) I was trying to make: I guard my 5 star ratings. Sure, ratings probably aren’t the most important or biggest factor in deciding what books to read or buy. And I don’t know if many people pay that much attention to them. They’re more for ME than anything else. I know I don’t have to be so hard on myself with ratings, but when it comes to wanting them to reflect how I felt about the book, I want them to be perfect. Does that sound stupid? And with 5 stars, I don’t wanna just give them out to any book I loved. I want those to be the books that truly matter to me. The ones that have changed me in ways I didn’t think was possible. The ones I will hold close to my heart and reread over and over again. The ones that deserve all the stars in the night sky because they’re that special to me.

Do you guys also take a long time in deciding ratings? Or does it not matter much? Do you give out 5 stars like candy at a parade or do you save them for the ones that you can put on your all-time favorites shelf?

Read 10 comments

  1. Yesss, while I’m reading a book I’m already deciding what I’m going to rate it. I used to rate based on how much I LOVED a book before as well but these days I’ve rated and reviewed so many books now I tend to see how much it stacks up against OTHER books that I’ve read. That elusive 5 star rating is hard for books, even for those I loved to achieve them, but I rate 4.5 stars more often XD Lovely article Holly!

  2. I really, really enjoyed this post, Holly! You and I are very similar when it comes to the change in how we rate our books. I used to be more generous with my 4 and 5 star ratings, since I would rate my reads right away. And sometimes, I’m still able to tell right away how I would rate a read – except for 5 stars. I’m very particular now about which books earn that elusive 5 star rating from me; I want them to be special, the ones that REALLY got to me and have me thinking about them and craving a reread. So happy to read about how you act similarly!

  3. Great post, Holly! I think about this a lot. I’m the worst impartial rater, because I always do what you describe in the beginning – I rate books immediately after I finish them, when I’m awash with feels, without really thinking about the book objectively. On one hand, maybe it doesn’t matter, because I don’t know if my ratings are really affecting anyone. On the other hand, every time I go through my Goodreads shelves, I cringe at my ratings. I can never remember why I rated books so highly half the time. I’m fairly free with my 5-star ratings, although I do have a favorites shelf, which I guess would be the equivalent of a six-star rating. Also, I was talking to someone else recently about how we rate different genres differently. Even though fantasy is my favorite genre, I tend to rate contemporaries higher, probably because I tend to be a awash with the Feels when I finish them. Basically, my ratings are completely unreliable, and if someone wants to know if I liked a certain book, they should probably just ask me. :D

  4. I think I wrote a post that was almost exactly like this at one point – it’s an issue that plagues us all! Like you, I’m now a lot pickier about my ratings and five star reads are much fewer and further between (and I had the same issue with book highs too). Now I use 4.5 stars way more often and I even have an All-Time Favorites category that is only for the best of the best of the best!

  5. Great topic, and things I’ve thought about before. When it comes to ratings, I do rate the book right after I’ve read it. I’ve found if I leave it a while I either forget the things that did annoy me that would knock it down a little, or I focus on the things I enjoyed too much, and it bumps it up a little. So I rate when my opinions are still fresh. When I’d been blogging for 1 year, there were some books I STILL thought about, that I had rated lower (3 stars), I decided to “calibrate” my ratings by reviewing them all at the end of the year, to see if any should be bumped up or down, particularly in relation to each other. When you’ve read 50 books and rate them, they may go up or down if your benchmark moves after reading 150 books, for example. I am definitely fussy about 5 star ratings though, and I don’t give them out easily, the book has to be a major favourite that I feel I will love forever. If a book doesn’t hit that mark, it will get 4.5 stars.

  6. RIGHT? I have to agree with this so much. When I first started to read books, everything was pretty much 5 to 4 stars. If I could finish it, then it was a good book! I’ve noticed that I am really stingy with my 5 star ratings this year. That group is growing the slowest, and it should be that way! I want to be able to feel confident about my opinion of a book, even 5 years down the line. The books I rated in 2011 and 2012? I often cringe when I go back and look at the ratings. Because I know that they need to be updated. From 2013 to today, I find that those ratings are pretty good to go.

  7. I definitely think rating a book five stars is something special, and they’re the books you think will stay with you. I wasn’t as picky with that when I started reading a few years ago, and I’ll often re-read books to see what I think of them now. They almost always result in a decrease of star rating. It also took me until July to find my first 5-star rating of the year! That was a bit depressing, but when I did find it, I was ecstatic.

  8. I think I used to be very critical of my reading and reviewing and would rarely give a book 5 stars, but this year there’s a lot more in comparison, and I can’t say I’m not happy about it because I feel like I’m being fair to them now, and that’s much better me thinks. I will, nine times out of 10 now, if I’m consider 4.5 stars or 5, I wait a few days and then decide, it clears my mind. Great post Holly! :)

  9. I’m completely with you on this! Sometimes I rate based on feelings right after (because my first instinct after I finish a book is to tell Goodreads, and they want to know my rating immediately) and later wonder if that was really the right rating. If I think a book is a potential 5 star I *usually* know right away because it’s generally amazing all the way through, but sometimes I will sit on it and try to truly digest the book and how much I believe it will stay with me in the long term.

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