What Do I Look For In a Good Book? // A Look Into My Rating System!

Rating books is one of the hardest things I do as a reader.

I actually think it’s like that for all readers in general! Does this badly written book deserve a high rating if I enjoyed it? Should I give it 3 stars or 3.5??* And I’m not going to deny that I gave 5 stars to almost every book I enjoyed when I first started rating books 😳 (I’ll be honest that book blogging has changed me to become harsher when it comes to rating books, so I barely ever give five stars anymore.)

*the struggles I go through over these Tiny Little Things.

So today, I’m going to be discussing the factors that weigh into the final rating of books I’ve finished, along with some books I’ve enjoyed (and books I didn’t love so much)!

A little addition to this post – in light of what’s been happening recently due to hate crimes targeted at Asians, here are some things you can do to help:

Now, onto the post!

flower divider

enjoyment

This is probably the top thing I look at while deciding on book ratings. Fortunately, most of the books I’ve been reading these days have interested me, but if I’m not very invested in a book, I’ll be less likely to give it a good rating (if I even finish it).

I’ll admit, an example of this would be Cinder. I remember reading this for the first time and really loving it (though I need a reread soon), even though it was full of cliches and problematic content. But it was such a guilty pleasure read for me; I loved the characters so much and I couldn’t help but give it a high rating!

characters

Many of my 5-star reads are due to how much I loved the characters.They play such an important role (since the whole book is literally all about them!), and depending on how much I love, relate to, or care about the characters, there’s a higher chance of me liking the book.

Character growth and development is also a must for me! If a character has the exact same mindset or personality from beginning to end, it feels so flat to me. On the other hand, if I can tell that they really grew and their perspectives have shifted, and combined with my love for them, I’ll hopefully end up enjoying the book!

plot & pacing

Plot is kind of a flexible thing for me. I can handle books with little to no plot (like contemporaries, which are mostly character-driven), but plot is a vital element in fantasy and it’s something I always look for.

One book I absolutely despised was The Night Circus, which was neither a plot-driven nor character-driven–it was a setting-centered (I didn’t think this was even real but TNC made it a thing) story. Which I found out I hate after reading this!

writing & pov

Writing influences my ratings but doesn’t play a major part, unless it starts to affect my enjoyment of a book. Gorgeous prose in writing is something I always love to read, but not if it gets too flowery or dense, and simplistic writing styles almost always work with me, since it’s so readable.

For me, perspective can really impact my thoughts on a book. If there are too many narrating characters, it’s hard to keep track of every single one, and I will most likely get confused 🤔 And depending on the point of view the writing is (first, second, or third), it’s easier to tell different characters’ personalities apart!

emotion

Basically how much it made me cry!! It’s a wonder how little words on a page can bring me to tears of sadness or laughter. These are the ones that I love significantly more than just any other book.

For instance, The Ones We’re Meant to Find (I was going to use Starfish again but I feel like I’ve mentioned it too many times here)! It took me a little while to get into it, but then I read the ending, and then it was cry time. Afterwards, I just could not stop thinking about it and it ended up as one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year.

The Mirror Season is another book that broke me and then put me back together. I adore every single part of it with all my heart: Soft characters, a secret garden, and a magical bakery is really all I need in a book. I lost count of how many times I teared up over specific scenes 🥺 This is a story that is so, so powerful and will be important to so many people.


how do you rate your books? what are some good books you’ve read recently?? do you have any recommendations for books that made you emotional?

p.s. a small update: I’m sorry for this shorter-than-usual post, but I’m officially on spring break (!!!) and I’ll hopefully be able to be more productive next week!

45 thoughts on “What Do I Look For In a Good Book? // A Look Into My Rating System!

  1. Ok this was a really cool post to read! It was fun to learn about your book-viewing/reviewing process, and think about my own 💕 (some of my criteria’s rather hazy at this point, which results in a lot of dropped reads 😂 maybe if I figure out what I’m really looking for in books, I’ll have a wee bit more success in choosing books I’ll finish!)
    Oh wow The Night Circus sounds so INCREDIBLY boring! I had no idea that was even a thing! (maybe it’s in its own genre loool) sounds like an interesting idea that rather fell through.

    Like

  2. ahhh Katie i love this post and i agree with a lot of the things you said! my rating system is very personal and subjective lol, i definitely rate books mainly based on my enjoyment, as well as how many emotions i felt while reading it. i care more about the characters than the plot, and as long as the writing is clear and understandable, i’m good. i appreciate beautiful writing but it’s definitely not a requirement for me to love the book (and honestly if the writing is too flowery or lyrical for my taste, it would dampen my enjoyment :’)) this was a really great and thought-provoking post!

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  3. this is such a good topic of discussion because you’re right!!¡¡ I feel like every reader struggles with this. mostly I take into account the factors you mentioned but also, sometimes the genre of the story gets in the mix. anyways, great post!

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  4. The emotions and characters definitely play a big part in the rating for me. If I cried, the book will definitely get a 4 or 5 stars. Another thing that personally affects rating for me which book out of the 2-3 books I am reading I prioritise more because that really tells me how objectively I was into reading that particular book.

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  5. This is a great post! I personally think characters play a huge part in how much I’ll enjoy a story; if I couldn’t connect or care about the characters, I usually ended up not enjoying the book because well, most books do centered around their characters… I may still continue reading if I find the plot intriguing though, but in general characters took a huge chunk of my assessment 😀

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  6. This was so insightful, thank you for sharing Katie! I can definitely relate on the “enjoyment” factor, and brilliant characters can often cause me to overlook flaws in the other elements of the book like plot ahh… Ooh I’m pleased to hear about The One’s We’re Meant to Find, I’m ready to have my heart broken by the end 🥺. Lovely post as always! 💖

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  7. This is such a cool post idea! Personally, my rating of books is a mixture of my enjoyment and of how good the book is objectively, though my enjoyment comes first most of the time. For example, if I absolutely fell in love with the characters and the plot sucks, I will most likely rate it 4 or more stars despite that last aspect.

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  8. I can’t wait to read The Ones We’re Meant to Find! I’m a huge fan of sister books, and esp after reading your comments, I’m super excited.

    I’m horrible about rating books– like, just thinking about it makes me sweat, haha. I love that you have a system that works for you and keeps things consistent. It’s really awesome. Thanks for sharing that! 🙂

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  9. This is such a good post! I am exactly the same when it comes to rating books. I have a lot of guilty pleasures that I have given 5 star ratings to that are quite regularly bashed by other reviewers (ahem, Twilight) and that’s fine! I have loved loads of badly reviewed books and also hated loads of highly rated ones. Funnily enough 5 star ratings are quite few and far between for me too and the “feeling” is what makes me give 5 stars more than anything else. If I absolutely loved it regardless of how it was written then ill give it a 5!

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