How I Rate Books

Hello readers! I have been blogging now for around six months. I started back on Wix and just recently moved here. However, I have never posted anything about how I rate books. I know everyone does it differently, and I would love for my readers to know how I give a book each star rating.

Before we go any further, I want to disclaim that there is an affiliate link in this post for an online used books store called Better World Books. I do make a commission when you use my link and make a purchase.

First, I am going to go over each star rating and why I would give a book that star rating, and then I’ll show you an alternate method I use if I just can’t decide what to rate a book. I did not come up with it myself, and will link the person who did.


Five stars for me does not mean I didn’t have any issues with a book. I can usually think of, at the very least, one thing I didn’t like about every book I read. However, the main way I give a book 5 stars is if the book gives me that blissful feeling while I’m reading it. I have to have been totally invested in the characters and plot to give it five stars. I mean, I want to laugh with the characters, cry with the characters, and feel all the feelings along with them.

The second way I would give a book five stars is if I think I grew as a person while reading it. This does not have to be literary fiction or the intent of the book. However, if I can’t stop thinking about the book and the messages it held, I will give it a five stars.


Four stars for me can mean a few things. Firstly, if I liked it but it didn’t do one of the things above, I’ll give it four stars.

Another way a book can get four stars is if I liked most of the book, but part of it let me down. For instance, I gave the book Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant 4 stars. I loved that book, but I really didn’t like or understand the end of it. Another one I read this year is called This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith. I personally didn’t like the last 1/3 of the book, causing me to drop my rating to 4 stars.

Four stars is my most common rating, and it mostly is for the books which do not fit in the five or three star category.


This is a pretty simple one for me. I put all books in this rating that I could take or leave. I didn’t love the book, but I didn’t dislike it either. I usually didn’t feel like I gained anything from reading the book. It didn’t get a huge emotional response from me in one way or another.


There are two reasons, again, that I could give a book two stars. Two stars is NOT always a bad rating, for me.

If I do rate a book that I DNF, I will give it 2 stars. I don’t add every book that I DNF to my read pile, but I give it 2 stars when I do. This just meant I don’t think the book was for me. I can give a book 2 stars and realize why other people like it. I will always put in my review what didn’t work for me, so other people can see why I DNF’d the book. When I rate a book 2 stars in this way, it isn’t always bad rating, unless it falls under the next reason. If you read my post about all the books I DNF’d in 2020, a lot of them fall under this category.

The other reason I would give a book 2 stars is because it made me frustrated or angry while reading it, and not in an intentional way. For instance, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russel. That book made me angry and upset, but it was the actual intention of the story, so that doesn’t apply. However, in December, I read Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. I hated all the characters. The police officer was aggressive toward all the witnesses. In my opinion, when the witnesses would misinterpret what the officer was asking, it felt like the miscommunication trope, which is my most hated trope. I also guessed the ending, which just made it worse. I was frustrated through the whole read, so it does apply here.

I have not given a book 1 star since 2018. This rating, for me, means the book was offensive and I couldn’t see any reason why someone would read it. The book was a Dr. Dolittle book and it was so incredibly racist. I was reading it out loud to my child when I came across some words I would rather not repeat, and returned it to the library. POC characters in the books are described as stereotypically and are caricatures. Even if you are a person who can separate authors from the art, there is no possible way of doing it in this case.

If I want to share Dr. Dolittle with my kid, I will watch the Eddie Murphy film, from the 90s, that I grew up watching myself.

Reading and watching reviews about books really allows you to filter these things out of your life. Nowadays, I will usually find out if a book is racist or problematic before even reading it, but I don’t really know of anyone who has read that book particularly.

Alternate Method – The CAWPILE System

I don’t use the CAWPILE system often, but I will do it if I can’t decide on a rating. Recently, I read Fortuna Sworn by K. J. Sutton, and I wasn’t sure if it was a 3-star or a 4-star. So, I used the CAWPILE system to decide. After putting all the numbers in, it gave me a high 3-star, so that is what I rated it.

Original CAWPILE video by Book Roast:

A Blog post version (not written by Book Roast):



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