#LetsDiscuss2020 – Rating Books – TCL’s #DiscussionSunday #6.


Some people like to use stars (like me). Some people use other ways to rate books. Fellow blogger Claudia over at The Love of Books recently posted that she’s developed a brand new rating system for giving stars (or in her case hearts) to books that she reads. That made me that we should discuss:

How do you rate the books you review?

Discussion Sunday #letsdiscuss2020

Let me start by saying that there is nothing wrong with not using any rating system at all. Lots of bloggers prefer to stay away from putting up any type of rating, be it stars of points or whatever. That is totally valid, and I’m not telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do on their own blogs or book reviews.

That said, Claudia found this on a YouTube video by Book Roast, which is very fun to watch! But if you don’t want to watch the video, here’s the breakdown of the system from Claudia’s post:

The Book Roast’s rating system, called CAWPILE, involves giving a book a score from 1-10 on seven factors. The factors are:

  • Characters
  • Atmosphere/Setting
  • Writing Style
  • Plot
  • Intrigue
  • Logic/Relationships
  • Enjoyable

Each topic is given a score:

  • 0 – 3 = very poor
  • 4 – 6 = mediocre
  • 7 – 9 = really good
  • 8 – 10 = outstanding

You then add up the seven different scores (one for each topic), and divide the result by 7 to get an overall rating of between 1 and 10 for the book. This number is used to determine the rating of the book:

  • 0 – 1 = no rating
  • 1.1 – 2.2 =  ♥
  • 2.3 – 4.5 = ♥ ♥
  • 4.6 – 6.9 = ♥ ♥ ♥
  • 7 – 8.9 = ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • 9 – 10 = ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

On the face of it, this sounds pretty complex. But, if you think about it just a bit, I am guessing that it isn’t really too difficult to work out. The whole CAWPILE idea certainly helps you break down the elements of a book, so you can evaluate it moGlittering Starsre properly. Surely if you’ve struggled with how to rate books you’re reviewing, this would be a good way to start.

That said, my question is, do all readers and reviewers see each of the CAWPILE elements as being equal? See, if they’re all equal, then there’s no problem with this system. But if they’re not equal, then rating one category highly that the reviewer sees as less consequential will skew your results. See what I mean? If not, let me be more precise.

For example, some say that at the most basic level, there are really only two types of novels. Character driven novels, and plot driven novels. Obviously, every reader and reviewer will have their preference – some prefer character driven novels, and some prefer plot driven books. To give them equal weight, when the reviewer puts more importance on one as opposed to the other, seems unfair – to the reviewer, and ultimately to the book! This also doesn’t take into account how someone who, for example, values a certain type of writing style, might be willing to forgive plot holes and flat characters, simply because they love the author’s way of using language.

G0yRFinally, I’m not sure if boiling down our ratings to a mathematical formula will work for everyone. Yes, I’m sure that this could be a very valuable tool, especially for newer reviewers, or reviewers who want to start using a rating system. I worry, however that for someone who has been reviewing and giving ratings to books for a while, this method might become more of a hinderance than a help.

This whole thing raises a whole lot of questions, some of which include:

  • Do you have a rating system for the books you review?
  • If you do, is it a mathematical one like this, or do you go with your gut?
  • If you don’t give out stars or hearts or whatever, would you consider starting to use such a system, or do you find them to be irrelevant or that they feel fake?
  • If you do rate books, what is more important to you – the characters or the plot – and will one or the other’s excellence or failure color your rating for that book?
  • When you read a book, do you pay more attention one (or a couple) of the CAWPILE categories than others, or are they all equally important to you?

I could go on, but this should start the discussion off.

This post is my sixth entry in the 2020 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!


16 thoughts on “#LetsDiscuss2020 – Rating Books – TCL’s #DiscussionSunday #6.

  1. I go with my gut, but with a twist. I read various genres, so what I expect from a cozy mystery is very different from a thriller or literary fiction. A cozy mystery that I give 5 stars to means it was fun, entertaining with a good storyline, but someone who reads literary fiction might only give it a 2 or a 3 or not read it at all, Not sure if that makes sense or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It makes sense, but in truth, I try to approach every book on its own merit. I read mostly literary fiction, but if you notice my recent book review is for a mystery novel that got my heart pounding, so I gave it 5 stars.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I usually rate out of my gut feeling. Whether I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading, or thought it was time better spent doing something else. Time is precious, especially as we get older.
    That being said, I see a lot of merit to the ‘CAWPILE’ approach.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For me a rating is just a number and it changes for every reader because of their personal take-away from any book. I’m more interested in reading a review that points out good / bad or indifferent points which interest me enough to pick up a copy for myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t heard of the CAWPILE method before and it doesn’t sound like sth I would use. Like you said, we all prefer one thing over another, they can’t all have the same value for everyone, so I think this system is pretty flawed.
    As for my rating, I mix the overall feeling (4-loved it, 3-good but nothing extraordinary, 2-not good but has some redeeming qualities, 1-can’t believe someone actually agreed to publish this) with four other factors that can raise or lower the rating by one star max (writing, plot, characters, themes). So, for a five star rating, I need to love the book so much I can’t shut up about it and it has to excel at all 4 factors.


  5. Wow! This leads to robust discussion! I consider many elements when giving a rating! I have the most difficult time when the writing itself is exquisite but the plot or characters didn’t engage me. When that happens I have to conclude that I’m just not the right reader! One element that is so important to me and I didn’t see listed in the seven factors is THEME! A book with engaging, substantial, meaningful, and thought provoking themes (but not dark themes) almost always receives a high rating from me. The other factor that’s important to me is the enjoyment factor…for this element I include engaging and unputdownable! Any book that I have awarded 5 stars has great themes and is compelling in some way. My perfect read has a balance of character driven and plot driven. A book that focuses solely on one at the expense of the other is not usually satisfying for me. The 3 factors of theme, engaging, and plot/character balance are at the crux of my rating system. All of the other factors can cause my rating to slide up or down by a half star or more. It has taken me a long time to know what elements are the most important for me, and I think the topic is definitely worth a great deal of thought and discussion! And, no, I don’t think all factors are equal! I’m willing to overlook some things if my big three are solid! Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I need to think about this more. I am aware of the CAWPILE method, but do not use it. I tend to go more by my gut. I also tend to issue ratings somewhat by genre. I know it sounds strange but I have different standards for genres. My expectations for a romantic comedy are not the same for a non-fiction self-help book. Does that make sense? So I suppose my answer is: I rate from the gut, with qualifiers. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

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