Alright, Alright …I give up. I’ve always said I’m not going to publish my rating system because frankly …
That’s what it boils down to. Because:
That said, if I at least try to rationalize what I’m doing with my star ratings, it probably comes down to something along these lines:
DNF or refuse to read as a matter of principle — e.g., something that others already have exposed as plagiarism, or by a BBA who’s made a public spectacle of themselves. (“No star rating” is actually the only rating policy by which I abide without any variance.)
Vile. Avoid at all costs. If you don’t, I won’t be held responsible for the consequences — just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Insubstantially varying degrees of awfulness, for any number of reasons (plot, characters, writing, you name it): books that make me wonder almost as much as the half-star and BBA filth how they ever got published at all. Highly unlikely ratings for me, though: While I don’t read any ebooks, at the same time I also prefer to actually own the books I read, so I tend to be careful about the way in which I spend my money, and I know my own literary tastes well enough to have a fairly sound sense of what is going to work for me (and what isn’t). It takes a very strong recommendation from someone I trust for me to spend any money on a book about which I already have substantial misgivings going in. — Also, if I feel I’m headed for a 1-star or 1 1/2-star read, I’m much more likely going to DNF than torture myself all the way to the finish line. Life’s just too short for that sort of experience.
Readable (just about), but seriously “meh.” I made it to the end, but the book never engaged me, nor did it make me want to read anything else by the same author. Very likely, also riddled with flaws and / or transgressing into major pet peeve territory without too many redeeming factors.
Below average, with still a fairly substantial “meh” factor (see above) and / or flaws / pet peeve offenses way too big to overlook. Possibly also a book by a writer who (without necessarily being Lit Nobel / Pulitzer / Booker material) I feel could do better, but for whatever reasons fell short of what they seem to have in them.
Average. Neither completely unreadable nor knock-me-off-my-socks spectacular. The good and bad parts more or less offset each other, or if it’s running afoul of one or more pet peeves of mine, other readers might view things differently and enjoy the book more than I did. Possibly also a book by an author whom I consider Lit Nobel / Pulitzer / Booker material, but who seriously fell short of their capabilities in this one. — If it was my first book by this author, I will quite possibly give them another chance; however, with me typically it’s “two strikes and you’re out” … not three.
Above average. A truly enjoyable read, even though there are individual aspects where I would have wished for more, or for something different, or which leave me puzzling over authorial intent, etc. — Alternately, a book whose strengths and considerable significance in the overall literary heritage of humankind I acknowledge, but which I didn’t enjoy enough to want to read it again any time soon. I am, however, almost certainly going to read other books by the same author.
Vastly above average; I greatly enjoyed the reading experience and will definitely read other books by this author (if (s)he isn’t already a favorite author of mine anyway). Whatever smallish things may not have sat quite perfectly with me were, on balance, hit out of the park sky high by everything that I liked. This is a book, and an author, that I will unreservedly recommend to others.
A phantastic book; almost definitely “all-time favorite” material — as is the author.
Perfection. Desert island stuff. Without this book in it, the world would be a lesser place. Quite possibly, a life-changing reading experience.
Over the years, I have developed a fairly accurate sense of what will work for me, so most of my ratings are in the 3 1/2 to 5 star category — these are also the books that will most likely inspire me to write a review.
Also, among these books it’s often just a matter of minute degree, nit-picking, or simply spur of the moment whether I opt for a half star more or less. (Bless BookLikes for making half-stars available, btw; for the longest time I thought I didn’t need them, but I’ve since decidedly come ’round to loving them and wouldn’t want to give them up again for anything in the world.) I’ve been known to waver back and forth pretty badly between 4 and 4 1/2, and 4 1/2 and 5 stars in particular. (Hey, I’m a Libra … I’m supposed to be indecisive.)
A negative reading experience on the other hand, whether it’s just “meh”, abominable, or DNF, tends to make me want to move on to something else sooner rather than later. Unless the book (or the author) has seriously ticked me off in a way that can only be dealt with by a longish rant, I will very likely not bother to write a review at all — or if I do, not one exceeding a couple of lines and the odd meme.
But when all is said and done, it all really just boils down to …