How Do You Review Books?

I always find it very interesting to read reviews of books, especially what each reviewer believes are the best qualities of a book, and, in other cases, what they felt did not work in the story. I know, from my own experience, that these reviews assist me to decide whether to take a chance upon choosing a book to read, apart from the obvious things such as the cover and book theme/story. I find it fascinating looking at the various reviews a book may receive, and, how some books divide reviewers dramatically. If a book has received ratings ranging from * up to *****, with a tendency for reviewers to rate it either very high on the scale, or rate it very low, this definitely piques my interest. In many instances, I am intrigued to see why reviewers have rated the book in this way, and, wish to review it myself, in order to provide my own critique.


From my own experiences of reading and reviewing, for me to rate a book as a ****star or *****star book, to be honest, I can ‘feel’ that it falls into either one of these categories. It is a gut feeling about a work that you can sense, especially when I judge whether or not I can give the book five stars. For me a four star book is one which is very well written, has swept me away, is literate, etcetera, but, which I feel I cannot award five stars for a certain reason. Maybe the four star book had elements which were not developed enough, or which I felt could have been explored more, but were not. The five-star book, on the other hand, is something that is generally flawless, in my humble opinion, and a work that I could not find any fault with. While there may be some very minor quibbles sometimes, the story may be so entrancing, compelling, powerful etcetera, that I am drawn to award the work five stars.

This is just my viewpoint on a topic which we could all talk about for hours on end, as each reader has such a different take on an individual book, and how they feel about it. Now, let us return to the original topic of this post – how do you review books?


4 thoughts on “How Do You Review Books?

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about reviews since I set up my blog, and I’ve even drafted up a series of posts about them. I haven’t been giving a star rating because sometimes it seems arbitrary to me. What do you give a book you liked but wasn’t the best ever? A three? That seems low…Hard to determine.

    • I agree, sometimes it is not easy to give star ratings. Everyone critiques/reviews works in different ways, and some works are just difficult to give ratings to. For me, with some of the books I review, I wrestle with the decision at times, and say hypothetically to myself “Can I award this work 5 stars/4 stars?”, and listen to my gut instinct to see if I go with the four or the five star rating. I only write reviews for works which I feel that are either four or five stars as I like to make other readers aware of works which have either amazed/compelled/rivetted me, and if I feel that the work is either three, two or one stars, I do not review it. For me it makes things easier, and more clear cut, but that is just how I go about my reviews.

      I do not think that if a book does not have a rating that it is necessarily the end of the world. I have read books which are critiques of films and books which do not specify a rating for the book/film in question, but, go more into depth explaining how the reviewer felt about the book, its strengths, weaknesses, etcetera. Probably having a rating is for the ease of a prospective reader, but, its effectiveness is always up for debate…just my take on things.

  2. I generally try to be as positive as possible, and generally do not leave anything less than a 4 star rating. My thinking is that it’s difficult enough to be a writer as it is; no sense making it any more difficult for anyone else. Sad to say, that isn’t everyone’s way of thinking.

    I also try to review as frequently as possible. But time and energy are limited, and so I don’t review books that I (privately) do not think are deserving. On the other hand, the fact that I have not reviewed a book should not be construed as a negative criticism.

    I hope this helps. (I wrote a much longer response earlier, but somehow lost it, due in no small measure to my own incompetence and the intervening quirks of this particular computer.)

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