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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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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