A “Rate It” Rant

Rating systems drive me nuts.

I’ve been told they are a necessary evil at the doctor’s office.

But seriously.

How do I even know where to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10? I don’t think I’ve ever been at a 10. That seems like that must be pain that makes you pass out in self defense. I’ve never done that.

Well, there was the one time I got a shot of Novocaine up my nose and I passed out, but that was differently terrible, not insanely painfully terrible, though still not something I’d ever recommend. I birthed three children with no drugs. That wasn’t all warm cuddles, but I didn’t pass out or anything.  And while I remember it being painful, it was a different kind of pain than stubbing your toe. Just as when you have the kind of back pain that makes you think your spine will sever if you move the wrong way it’s different from the constant ache of a tooth. Yet somehow you are supposed to pick an arbitrary number on the same sliding scale for all of them?!?


Conversely, I’m not always sure I know what no pain feels like. There have been times in my life that I thought I didn’t have any pain.  Then I found out that I did, I just had been living with it so long I didn’t even realize it was there until it was gone.

So, basically if you don’t know what the top of the scale would be like and you aren’t even sure you understand where the bottom lies, and pain comes in so many various forms and my 5 of pain probably isn’t the same as your’s, how are you ever supposed to pick a non-arbitrary number when asked!

What a crazy system!

Fortunately, despite my above list of aliments, I don’t have to go to the doctor and rate my pain very often.  And I get to avoid that rating system all together. Except for Wednesdays.

Perhaps you have noticed, Wednesdays I post book reviews.

Book reviews in which I never give them a rating on a scale because I hate that. Giving a book a rating is almost as bad as rating pain. My internal rating scale is not the same as yours. And how can I rate a young adult fantasy novel and a collection of nonfiction essays on the history of kitchen tools on the same scale? It’s not even close to the same kind of writing!  And the world expects you to rate books on a scale that goes no further than five.



Let’s look at the top and bottom.

At the bottom we have one. Those must be the worst kind of book. Perhaps a book that you couldn’t even finish would qualify. Of course, then one would wonder why you would review it, I wouldn’t, but at least we have our bottom.

Which means on the opposite end we have fives. To be totally opposite of a book that was so terrible as to be unreadable, it has to be AMAZING. The kind of book that becomes a classic or at very least the kind of book that no matter what kind of reader a person was, no matter what subject matter they gravitated to, even if the book was totally outside their normal genre, you would feel confident putting it in their hands and saying “You’ve got to read this book!”

There aren’t a lot of ones out there (thank you editors of the world) and there aren’t a lot of fives out there. So that leaves way too many books to squash into the remaining three numbers! Because I’d rather not spend my time reviewing books just to tell people what I hate about them I’m not reviewing books that are twos. That leaves me 3 and 4. So 3 ends up being a nice solid story and 4 is a book I really liked. And that is just not enough numbers people! Not enough at all.

The moral of my rant (can rants have morals?) is that if you run across my reviews on Amazon or Goodreads and wonder why they are predominantly fours with a few threes thrown in, that’s why. And if you are an author wondering why I gushed about your book yet gave it four stars, that’s why. And if you are the person with the power to add a lot more stars to the book rating system you have my total support!

15 comments on “A “Rate It” Rant

  1. junekearns says:

    🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 for that, Jessie.

  2. jenanita01 says:

    Reblogged this on Anita & Jaye Dawes and commented:
    Brilliantly put, I find it hard to grade my emotions. Either you like something or you don’t, no good asking me how much…

  3. Agreeing with you here, if for no other reason than almost all of my goodread ratings are 3&4.

  4. thinkbigmuch says:

    Of course, than one would wonder why you would review it, I wouldn’t, but at least we have our bottom.

    “then one …”



    • Jessie says:

      Man, gotta talk to my editor about missing that. He was probably too overwhelmed by my total lack of punctuation. Turns out I get sort of run-on-ey when I get rant-ey… And I’m going to thank about leave more grammatical errors, just because it’s nice to see your smiling face in my comments! 😛

  5. I love your rants. Makes me feel as though I’m not the only voice crying out in the wilderness. Suggestion: apply the medical pain rating scale to book reviews. “When you read this book, how would you rate your pain in a scale of 1 to 10, with a 1 indicating the book caused you very little pain and a 10 indicating the book caused you unbearable pain and anguish.”

  6. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I deal with this in rating job applicants. Telling someone to explain a difference between a 6 rating and a 7 usually cures them of picking a large scale to use next time.

  7. Susie says:

    George has told me that stepping on your own urinary catheter tube while one end of it is secured in your bladder is a 10.
    Rating books is no big deal. Most of my reading gets a three (average), while the ones I really feel are a good read are four, and ones that I want to assign for others to read get a five. Bad books do get a one or two, but I try avoid them. While that leaves me with a whole pile of threes, at least I can quickly sort out books to recommend. Don’t feel that you need to take my advice, because I like numbers and ketchup!

  8. Peter S says:

    Seems like most of the average rating on Goodreads are between 3 and 4 stars. It’s rare to see any average rating of less than 3 stars. Seems like it would have to be an exceptionally bad book for anyone to take the time to write a bad review on that site, usually I just don’t finish it if the book is not at least average.

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