Thursday, July 25, 2013

the goodreads average user rating

First of all, I have to brag for a moment. :-)

Apparently I'm in the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads. Woot woot! They don't explain exactly what that means, but I assume it has to do with the percentage of books I've reviewed. Whatever the case, I was glad to hear it because I do love Goodreads. Plus, it's a good lead-in to something I've been wanting to discuss . . .

Assuming you have a Goodreads account, have you ever looked at your average rating score?

If you don't know what I'm talking about, I don't blame you. It's a fairly unobtrusive feature. Beneath each user's profile picture, there are statistics listed including number of ratings and number of reviews. Just beside a user's rating count (to the right of it), you'll find that user's average rating in parentheses. And if you click on it, you can even see your rating frequencies. My ratings break down like this:

  • I've given 5-stars to 16 books (that's 4% of my rated books)
  • I've given 4-stars to 74 books (or 21%)
  • I've given 3-stars to 161 books (46%)
  • I've given 2-stars to 71 books (20%)
  • I've given 1-star to 24 books (6%)

That makes my average rating 2.96 stars. 

my new bookshelf!

So when I saw that, I got to thinking . . . Since I'm below 3 (the average rating for books), does that mean I'm a critical reader? Am I too harsh? Or, am I choosing too many so-so books? It's close to the median rating, of course, but as I clicked through my Goodreads friends' scores, I noticed that most of them have a much higher average rating, usually above 3.5. What does that say about me (and about them)?

Of course, you also have to consider that Goodreads has a skewed rating system. Instead of making 3-stars the "okay" or "average" score, 3-stars means "I liked it." The run-down goes like this: 1-star (I did not like it), 2-stars (it was okay), 3-stars (I liked it), 4-stars (I really liked it), and 5 stars (It was amazing). I know I'm not the only one that has a problem with this rating system. It's limited and would probably work much better with either more stars (9 stars? 10 stars?) or half-stars. Although I have 161 books all rated 3-stars, I don't think that I would rank them all at the same level.

Since my score is between 2 and 3, that means I rate most books between "okay" and "good." That sounds accurate, but it would certainly be nice if I could rate more books above 3 stars. Maybe I need to rethink my strategy for choosing books . . .

Anyway, I'd love to hear what your Goodreads average rating is and what you think of it. Are you 4+ stars and love every book you read? Or are you below 2 and very hard to please? Do you think the Goodreads rating system works well? I'd love to know your thoughts.

P.S. I promise I'm not over-thinking this! I'm just a very organized person who loves thinking about statistics, scores, lists, etc. :-)


  1. My average rating is skewed way high (3.99). I used to rate everything I read, but then I got an agent for my own writing, and I felt weird rating any author's book below a 4 basically. If I ever happen to sell a book and join that author community, I don't want to have rated anyone's books a 1 or 2 (or even a 3, because that's below the average rating for a lot of books) in case I ever meet them. I'm probably being a little paranoid, but I guess I'd rather be safe than sorry.

    1. I should mention that I don't rate every book I read a 4 or 5--I just only rate the books I LOVE and leave the others blank. Hmm, I guess that means an author could still deduce how I feel about their book.

    2. I'd never thought about what authors do about their ratings and reviews on social media! I'm glad you brought it up and I completely agree. I don't think it's a good idea for published authors to critique each other's work harshly on sites like Goodreads. It fosters a negative atmosphere in the community, especially since authors know how bad it feels to get a bad review. And like you said, if you ever met the other author, it could be very awkward!


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