Dear Goodreads. Please Give Me 1/2 Stars.

First, a huge thank-you to readers for all the support lately. The encouraging comments and listening ear, especially relating to yesterday’s post, mean a lot. Day #1 of online schooling went better than I expected; there were no tears (from children or their mother) which in itself felt like a major win. I did lots of “joyfinding” with highlights including: watching the kids put on an impromptu Encanto dance party (thanks, Spotify), reading some very fun picture books at bedtime while surrounded with hot magic bags, and laying in Levi’s bed listening to him talk, and talk, and talk as he was falling asleep. On a day I had been dreading, it was mostly good moments and I’m so thankful.

My post title says it all. And I presume if you’re reading this, and use Goodreads, you know exactly what I mean.

I’ve been logging my reading history on Goodreads for years now; I remember the evening I discovered the site and spent hours glued to my laptop screen finding and rating a decade or so of my favourite books.

But I am endlessly frustrated by not being able to give 1/2 stars.

To me, a 4-star book is very different from a 5-star book. But some books are neither or a 4 nor a 5 – they are exactly 4.5.

I’m not asking for the moon here; in this case, the moon being something ridiculous like 1/4 stars…

For some context, in the Goodreads vernacular, 2 = “it was okay”, 3 = “liked it”, 4 = “really liked it” and 5 = “it was amazing”; I stop reading 1’s which, for posterity = “did not like it.”

Here is the official stance on this topic, from the Goodreads website [with some of my own thoughts added in for good measure]:

After much [much = a lot; this means it has warranted significant investment of time and resources) investigation and debate [so I can’t be the only one with strong views on this], Goodreads has no plans to implement half stars. This is mainly due to the added layer of complexity that half stars would add to the rating system [what about the layers of complexity you’re adding to MY life, when I have to decide between rating a book a 2 or a 3, when clearly it is screaming to be labelled 2.5].

I am all about simplicity…but it’s really messing with my book reviews.

Please tell me I’m not the only reader out there that feels this way?

Header photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

21 thoughts on “Dear Goodreads. Please Give Me 1/2 Stars.”

    1. Right? Glad I’m not the only one. I think about this almost every single time I log a book! I guess I might be overthinking things a bit…but still. It’s a nuisance!

  1. I’m terrible at rating anything. I’m one of the most indecisive people, ever. I feel like I rate pretty much everything a 3 or a 4. hahaha. It feels nice and neutral, without being overly harsh or overly generous with my rating. LOL! I probably lean to the side of rating higher than lower, if I’m on the fence, because I feel guilty giving a book a low rating. Even if I didn’t really like it THAT much, I feel bad for the author if I rate it too low. haha! Empath problems.

    1. I’m the same way. I rate a lot of books a 4 that really are more like a 3; I also feel bad giving a “bad” rating. Hence why I need 1/2 stars!

  2. Have you considered using another platform, like The StoryGraph? I’ve never used TSG, but apparently you can do stars in quarter increments (!) and can migrate your entire Goodreads catalog over. I think one of the drawbacks is that not as many people use it, so if you rely on GR for its community-based discussions, it might not be a great alternative. However, if you use GR mostly to track your books and to-do lists, it might be worth a switch to a non-Amazon company.

    1. Wow – great suggestion. I’ve never even heard of StoryGraph (I really don’t use Goodreads for the community element, so never really researched other options).
      Thanks for the tip!

  3. That would be frustrating! I can appreciate they are trying to simplify the process (by giving a very limited number of options), but in doing so it’s actually made it more difficult. Well, maybe this makes it easier for new readers to make their selections (as opposed to the ones rating the books)?

  4. I don’t use Goodreads, but yes, I can see how there should be something between “really like it” and “it was amazing!” Having said that, I’ve been intrigued by Goodreads for a while… maybe this post will finally get me to check it out

    1. I do love it. Mostly for the fact that I can see a pictorial snapshot of all my books at the end of the year which I (childishly?) find mesmerizing and fun.
      No pressure to do this, though. There is no magical impact of recording books on Goodreads. I think not writing reviews definitely makes it a more pleasant experience for me because it takes very little time to manage; I know some readers leave long reviews for each book and I can see it taking quite a bit of time (but I’m sure they enjoy this aspect of the process…I just don’t, so may have a different take on using Goodreads from many others)!

  5. I also wish they had half stars on Goodreads. I will often call out my half star rating in a review and say “3.5 rounding up to 4 or 3.5 rounding down to 3.” I am using a separate tracking sheet in excel this year and it gives me an option for quarter stars. But that is just too granular for me. 1/2 stars seems perfect.

    Also, we should be friends on goodreads! I have the hardest time finding people but I think this would get you to my profile:

    1. Ah – I never really thought about adding 1/2 stars in the reviews but that’s genius (I basically NEVER write or read reviews in Goodreads; I’m going to write a bit more about my tracking system later this week in a post, but it sounds like you do something similar in that you use a separate sheet. I write a short blurb about each book inside a private spreadsheet I keep on GoogleDrive and then do the starred reviews in Goodreads).
      I found you (and so now you’ll have found me) on Goodreads!

      I think you can view my “shelves” and while they don’t go toward my “read” books, I do add and star any picture books the kids and I find to be 4 or 5 stars. You might find some you’d like to read with the boys (I think the shelf is called kids-lit)!

  6. hahaha…this is an interesting observation. I just feel missing 1/2 or zero rating for some books that are total waste of time. 🙂

    1. Good point. I tend to not rate (or finish reading) these books, but I can definitely see that being a useful addition as well!

  7. I would very much like 1/2 stars as well. I don’t see how that would make things more complex than trying to decide between a 4 and a 5.

  8. This is what frustrates me to no end with Goodreads! I can’t understand why it would be SO complicated. And even if it is, figure it out! This is what we all want!

    Another commenter mentioned StoryGraph and I just started using that app. I really like the community element of Goodreads (I get a lot of recommendations from my friends!) so I don’t think StoryGraph will ever be my main reading tracker, but they allow for quarter-stars and many other data options that will be fun to look at over the year! Plus, it’s a non-Amazon company, founded by a Black woman!

    1. Hmmm. I definitely don’t use Goodreads for the community aspect (how introverted of me); I don’t necessarily feel drawn to make the leap over, though, either, and start from scratch. Maybe, just maybe, Goodreads will come through with 1/2 stars and everything will be perfect. Wishful thinking, I’m sure. Abby is currently taking “persuasive” writing in her class; maybe I need to channel some persuasive writing skills and write Goodreads petitioning for those darn 1/2 stars?!

  9. This is funny. I actually like it being a 5 star rating system because more options usually makes it tougher for me. (I am thinking about my migraine app – going with a 5 stage rating for years and suddenly its 10. Messed me up majorly.) As for books though I do see the necessity of 1/2 stars on occasion. On my blog I do give out half stars when reviewing. At goodreads however if it is a half star I round it up. Thinking the author would be happier for a higher rating and just because I didn’t like it to make it the full star other people might choose the book because it has such a high rating. Don’t know if that makes sense but I feel like I am being kinder that way.

    1. I definitely round up and I understand it being favourable for the authors, so that’s a good point. I just miss the freedom of being able to say what I really think with the rating, and don’t feel like I can do that with whole stars?

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