Ponderings of a Bookworm {1}: What’s With All The 5 Star Reviews?


July 12, 2015 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm

Hi guys!  Welcome to my new feature, Ponderings of a Bookworm.  It’s where I talk about different topics, bookish and non-bookish, whatever’s on my mind really!  I wanted to have an outlet to channel my thoughts, and what better place than my blog 🙂

Today’s topic is What’s With All The 5 Star Reviews?


I’ve been tidying up my blog lately, doing some overdue upkeep that I’ve put off and procrastinated on for almost a year.  Sadly, that’s nothing new for me!  One of the things I’ve been doing is updating my pages, particularly the Review pages where you can find all my reviews.  I archive my reviews on the blog three ways: by author, by title and by rating.

When I was updating the page where you’ll find my reviews by rating, I noticed something that had me a little worried: I have A LOT of reviews in the 4 stars, 4.5 stars and 5 stars categories, but not so many in the 3.5 stars and under brackets.  Why does this have me worried, you may ask? Read on!

When I started blogging, I read a lot of post for blogging tips, review tips, basically what makes a book blog interesting and, you know, good.  One tip which came up more than once was the importance of having an even spread of review ratings for the books you’ve read.  Basically, don’t have your ratings skewed all high or all low, have an even amount of books in each rating category.  The rationale behind this, from memory, is that you won’t be taken seriously by readers or publishers giving ARCs if you rate everything 5 stars all the time.

So, does this mean I’m not a good blogger?  Am I not reviewing books properly?  Am I not harsh enough, or too kind when I give my review rating?  I’ve thought about this all day and I’ve decided the answer to these questions is a resounding NO.  There is no right or wrong way to blog or review books, and I’ve come up with a couple of reasons why my ratings are higher than I expected them to be.

  1. I don’t read books unless I think I’m going to like them on some level, and my reviews reflect that.  Call me crazy, but if the book doesn’t sound interesting or for some reason I don’t think I’m going to like it, I won’t read it.  I don’t request ARCs unless the book sounds like something I’d be interested in.  I don’t have time to waste on books I don’t think I’ll like.  I’m selective in what I read, and after 27 years, I know what I like.  So basically, if I don’t like a book or it doesn’t rate highly, it’s not because I went into it expecting not to like it – it’s taken me by surprises.  By the same token, I like a lot of the books I read!  So, therefore, they’re going to rate highly.
  2. I’m just starting out as a blogger – yes, I’ve been doing it for 18 months, but I’ve only reviewed 44 books so far.  That’s an average of 2.44 books per month (which I’m trying to increase btw!).  When I review a book, it’s comparative to the ratings I’ve given other books.  In the beginning, I hadn’t reviewed many books and they rated higher than they may have if I rated them today.  Some of the ratings have changed over time, and I’ve gone back and rated them a half star or more lower than they were originally, because my opinion has changed.  I’ve become pickier as time has gone on, because I’m becoming more well-read, and I’m more selective in what rating I give.  I’m more likely to give a lower rating now than I was when I started out.
  3. That being said, I rate books honestly by how I feel about them at that time and not by some arbitrary system that’s supposedly out there, telling bloggers how to do their job.  My book reviews are independent, even (especially) the ARCs I review.  I’m not going to skew the rating to fit some bell curve of how they should be, according to some standard that I haven’t set.  That doesn’t really make them independent then, does it?
  4. Reviews, and the rating I give to books, are my opinion.  That’s it, they’re just my opinion.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and there’s no right or wrong opinion when we’re talking about book reviews.  You may not agree with my rating, or I may not agree with yours, but that doesn’t make me right and you wrong or vice versa.  There’s no such thing as a wrong rating, and my ratings aren’t ‘wrong’ because they’re consistently positive.

So, I’ve decided that I’m not going to care that my ratings are more often than not 4 stars or higher.  I’m a positive person and I like to see the good in things, including books.  If I like something, I’m going to tell you about it!  That being said, I have no problem giving books a poorer rating when it’s deserved, but not to fit some scale of how it’s ‘supposed’ to be.

What do you think?  Is it a problem when bloggers are consistently positive in their reviews, or should we try to find the negative more often?  Do you have an even spread of ratings across your book reviews or are your reviews skewed more to one side, positive or negative?


4 thoughts on “Ponderings of a Bookworm {1}: What’s With All The 5 Star Reviews?

  1. I review books as best I can. I’ve been doing this for 2 ½ years at this point and I do not see a reason why I have to have an even amount of ratings. I tend to pick up books I know I’ll like or of course I’m gonna have higher rates books right? I say everyone should blog how they think is best. Our main goal is to tell ppl about the book and if publishers like our reviews and blog then that’s a plus.

  2. I love everything about what you said!! I tend to be a pretty easy going reader, and, like you, I read things I assume I will enjoy. For the most part, I do rate pretty high. I did, however, just rate something 2 stars. BUT it was the first 2 star in a very, very long time. I would never look at someone’s rating reputation and judge them based on that. I think it’s sad that some people may not take a blogger seriously because of their ratings. Personally, I think focusing on having evenly skewed ratings seems more untrustworthy. How can you guarantee to have spread out review ratings, you know? You can’t! Such a great post!

    • I completely agree, if bloggers purposely skew reviews to spread them out evenly, then it’s definitely not trustworthy. I’ll review a book accordingly and I have no issues giving poor reviews, but I won’t do this to fit where I may have a gap in ratings. Thanks for stopping by!

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Hi! I'm Bernadette, a 27 year old lawyer who loves to read (duh!), especially to escape my day job. I love to talk about books but I don't always get the opportunity to do so, hence my blog! I adore YA literature, most genres of Adult Fiction, and I've also been known to pick up a non-fiction book from time to time. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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