Rating Systems – To Use or Not to Use

It’s a debate chirping through Twitter, winding through the blogosphere, tossing back and forth in my mind every review I write or read. Should I, should I not? Its a tough question.

To use a numerical rating system, or not to use one. That is the question.

The answer is a complex one, dear friends. No, its not really complex, but I just wanted to say that. I will even pause here for laughter to commence.

I will no longer assign a book a number. All books were not created equal. All books cannot be judged with the numbers one, two, three, four, or five. Plot matters, characters matter, the story matters. Numbers are not enough to describe that. Numbers are numbers. Words are words. There’s a difference. So from now on, I will be using a rating system that uses words, not numbers.

Sometimes the words will be one, sometimes they will be many. If you want an example, my rating for CROSSED: Disappointed. My rating for ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD: Loved.

Loved, Liked, Disappointed. Those will be my new rating system. As you can tell, those three words will never be enough to describe a book. Loved will never be enough to tell you how I felt about ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD and BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY (both of which I loved in different ways). For that reason, I write reviews. Read the review for more information. Glance at the rating for an idea of what to expect.

How about you? Have you leaped onto the no-numerical-rating-system bandwagon? Or are you staying true to the numbers?


Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply


    October 29, 2011

    Comment love for IceyBooks: Great post!

    And you may be interested in this: “TheBookBuzz.org Provides Parent Ratings of Public School Books.”

  2. Reply

    Gianna [A Neverending Fantasy] [YA]

    October 29, 2011

    I sincerely love this idea. I'm going to use your idea (giving credit of course)! You're right. Books shouldn't be graded with a number. :)

    Great post!

  3. Reply


    October 29, 2011

    I use a star rating for my reviews. I like blogs that use ratings for their reviews, because sometimes I just don't have time to read everyone's beautiful reviews, so I just take a quick look at their rating to see how the book measures up. I know it's kind of lazy, but I follow so many blogs I don't have time to really read through everyone's reviews. And some people write REALLY long reviews.

  4. Reply


    October 29, 2011

    Oops. I admit I missed the point of this post. Sorry. In my defense I saw your tweet about comment love and decided to give some. Feel free to remove my post, and now this one, if you wish.

  5. Reply

    Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com

    October 29, 2011

    While I love ratings, I understand your decision. Sounds like a good middle ground.

  6. Reply


    October 29, 2011

    @Anna, that's the viewpoint I've been holding on to all these days. Not everyone has time to read the full reviews. But using this system, hopefully I'll be able to catch the best of both worlds.

  7. Reply


    October 29, 2011

    @Gianna [A Neverending Fantasy] [YA], go ahead! Feel free to! It isn't much of a unique idea though, hehe.

  8. Reply

    Lauren M

    October 29, 2011

    I like the idea of using words instead of numbers to describe your overall feelings about a book! I'm still a numbers kind of gal, since I'd probably have a tough time coming up with a single adjective. :P Looking forward to seeing this new rating system in action!

  9. Reply


    October 29, 2011

    I'm thinking of getting rid of my numbers. I want to do it based more on the emotion the book made me feel – similar to yours loved, liked, etc. :D
    So many people changing how they rate at the moment. Thanks for the discussion.

  10. Reply

    Julia :)

    October 29, 2011

    I've been considering getting rid of a number system too. I'm a little too attached to my ice cream cone images I use though…. :P I really like the whole loved, disappointed, liked idea though! I'm finding it harder and harder to compare books with numbers because like you said: words describe way better then numbers ever can!

  11. Reply

    Mary @ BookSwarm

    October 29, 2011

    I started out with a grading system (seemed logical, since I'm a teacher) but decided to drop it because I didn't really like giving a grade. Instead, I do the positives and wishes — some books get more positives, some more wishes.

    But I like your Loved, Liked, Disappointed! Even though there's more to it, those are simply descriptive.

  12. Reply

    Gina @ My Precious

    October 29, 2011

    Using words instead of numbers is helpful. I love ratings. For me, a potential reader, I find them extremely helpful, even more so if the reader goes on to describe why they deducted stars etc or used a certain word for description.

  13. Reply

    Meghan @ Books and a Cup of Tea

    October 29, 2011

    I've been thinking of doing this myself. You've help shift me a little more in the direction of it, too!

    The problem for me with a numbers rating system, is sometimes I might give a book a 4 or 5 and realize later I didn't really like it all that much, or realize it was more than what I gave it.

  14. Reply


    October 29, 2011

    I started out without a rating system…I've been told on and off I should add one. Honestly I didn't because I was lazy. I've thought about it, but it just seems too hard for me to rate a book on a number scale! For the reasons you listed.

    Your new system is much more realistic to me, I've debated adding one like it but have yet to come up with terms that I like. Eep. LOL! Who knows maybe I'll join the bandwagon eventually. ;)

  15. Reply

    A Canadian Girl

    October 29, 2011

    I like the idea of using words but I've always been partial to numbers probably because I'm so used to being graded.

    If I'm checking out a review, I read it in full most of the time but a rating system really helps me figure out what the overall thought of the reader was. I think most people understand that even if two books are assigned the same number you might like one better than the other or like them for different reasons.

  16. Reply

    Mimi Valentine

    October 29, 2011

    I totally agree with you! I don't think numerically rating books is the best way because they're never really accurate, you know? Because how you feel about different books can't always be compared — you might like one book so much more than another, but they still get the same rating! x)

    Awesome post, Hasfah! I think you're so smart for using words instead of numbered stars! I can't wait to read your reviews with them! :)

  17. Reply


    October 30, 2011

    I like a rating for the simple reason that sometimes peoples reviews are kind of all over the place, they like this, didn't like that, but what was their overall FEEL of the book when they finished? However, your using the words as a rating type system fixes that problem. So this will work for me!
    I do agree that a rating system is hard to work with. It's not really fair.

  18. Reply


    October 30, 2011

    I have always used words as a rating system. I agree – numbers are just too hard! But ratings just give a small glance into my opinion of the book, you really must read my review to get the full picture.

  19. Reply

    Jessica A.

    October 30, 2011

    I don't usually pay attention to rating systems. Some people's rating may be different than mine so I like to really read what they had to say about a book so that I can determine if I would like it.
    There have been a couple times when a couple people have given a book high ratings and I ended up not liking the book at all.
    So I really try to read the review and not just the final rating.

  20. Reply


    October 30, 2011

    I like ratings, whether they use numbers or words, like yours. I like to get a feel of the review before reading it, like you said. I may consider going to a word rather than a number system, myself.

  21. Reply

    Patricia's Particularity

    November 1, 2011

    I have been wondering the same thing for a very long time too. I love the words you have chosen though. I would think that for Book Bloggers reading a review is a given but I will even admit that there have been times when time will not allow me to read a review at the moment so I look right to the rating. In situations like this a rating system of any kind is a great thing – but I also know, myself like many, my feeling for a book changes over time depending on many different things. I.E. I'll admit I was enamored by TWILIGHT when I first read it but after time I lost that excitement and found the writing not a great in quality compared to many of the other vampire books (i.e. Vampire Academy). Is this because I read more Vampire books after that and I had more to compare? Probably, but you never know.

    Great post! I think I need to come to a decision about this as well…