3 stars – Is It a Bad Thing?


So this is something that I’ve been thinking about for awhile and finally decided to write a post about it.

If you read a lot of my book reviews, or follow me on Goodreads, you’ve probably noticed that I give a lot of 3 or 3.5 stars.  For me 3 stars usually means the book was decent. Like it was good but it wasn’t good enough for me to love it or adore it.  But sometimes I find myself unable to define why I gave a book three stars. Sometimes I feel bad about giving a book 3 stars because I think it’s a good book just barely not good enough for four stars.

It’s been on my mind a lot because I feel like people see three stars as a bad rating.  But I’m starting to think that it’s not.  1 or 2 stars is obviously a bad rating. It means the book was awful or just plain stupid.  4 stars means good, 5 stars means brilliant. But what does 3 stars mean? I really want to get better at rating books because I want to do justice to writer’s works.

What do 3 stars mean to you? Is it a good rating, bad rating, or something in between? 



  1. It’s very interesting because I think everyone has a different standard of star-ratings… odd as that sounds. 😛 To be honest, I give most things 5 stars, because to me that means it was a really good book or didn’t really have anything I DISLIKED about it, or in general blew me away in some way… but then, I’m an ENJOYER of books, not a critic, and I also tend not to read a book unless I’m fairly sure I’ll like it. So 4 stars usually means, for me, that I either didn’t find it quite 5-star material, or that it was better than a 3-star. 2 stars means it lacked something or disappointed me in some way, and 1 star means that I wish I hadn’t read it — I could have done something better with the time because I just disliked the book. So 3-stars? I don’t know, it’s sort of a middle-ground for me. I think it means it was pretty average and wasn’t BAD but it wasn’t really great either. I don’t know… So to ME at least, 3 stars more means “Okay” than “Good”. So… I dunno, it’s weird how we all have a different outlook on what the ratings “mean”. 😛 A very interesting topic!

    • Agreed! That’s great, I think it’s a good thing that people rate things differently, it creates a balance I think.
      You know I never thought about that before but I think that is one of the biggest differences between book reviewers. Some of us enjoy books, some like me are more critics. Which is totally cool.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

  2. For me 3 stars is the lowest good rating. 3 stars might mean I don’t have a ton of praise to give the book, but I still enjoyed it. A book I rate at only 3 stars is probably one I wouldn’t reread, unlike a 4 or 5 star book.

  3. I like the explanation that 3 stars is the lowest “good” rating. 5 stars means, “This book really impacted me. I enjoyed reading it and, after reflection, still find that it had good ideas, an interesting message, and very limited plot holes.” I think I’m a critic and not really a book enjoyer. I’m just a little too analytical to read something (or watch something) and not think about inconsistencies or improvements. 4 stars means that it was either really emotionally impacting but had a few plot holes or inconsistencies, OR was very well written but not as emotionally powerful. 3 stars means that I probably enjoyed reading it, but I didn’t react strongly to it and maybe it wasn’t well thought-out in terms of plot/character development, etc. I will recommend 4 and 5 star books to friends, and only recommend 3 star books to friends if it’s their kind of book.

    1 star means I hated it and wish I hadn’t read it at all. 2 stars means it was somewhat worth my time, and I may have enjoyed parts or aspects of a book, but I probably didn’t really enjoy reading it or enjoy it as a whole.

    • Yeah agreed. I tend to be that way too. It’s amazing how little inconsistencies can be so annoying. And once they start multiplying my enjoyment of the book (or show) goes down greatly.
      We seem to have a fairly similar rating system. 🙂

  4. 3.5 is like 70%. A B grade. A bit better than average. 3 is regular or perhaps mundane. 4 is very good. Multiply your score by 20 and get the percentage. If I got a 3 I would feel I failed. 3.5 I would feel it’s better than most.

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