I was thinking a lot about the way I rate books on Goodreads. The 5-star system is pretty effective to capture my thoughts.
1-star: I typically don’t rate books that I’ve rage-quit, because what’s the point? Those would probably get a single star, if I did. I just don’t feel right giving an opinion on something that I haven’t fully experienced. So you probably won’t see any books with only one star in my ratings.
2-stars: These are the books I finished but didn’t enjoy. Sometimes I don’t enjoy them because of craft reasons—my MFA has changed my tastes in a lot of ways, though I don’t want to imply that my tastes are objective by any means. Ratings are always subjective. Totally dependent on the person’s tastes. You probably won’t see many written reviews on my 2-star books. I tend to write them up so that I have them for later reference (in case I need a reminder about the book or my opinion on it), then never post them publicly. It’s hard enough being an author without having a bunch of people slam your work. And there’s just no way to tell if I don’t like it for a purely subjective reason that’s totally out of their control, or if I genuinely think that their writing sucks by all conventional standards. *shrug*
3-stars: These are the good books that I enjoy but probably won’t go back to re-read. They’re either not in my main wheelhouse, not executed in ways that catch my love and attention, or have some faults that are glaring enough that I can’t be wholly enthusiastic about them. I will usually post my reviews about these, though I always feel a little bad doing so, because anything but a rave review can be hurtful, depending on the author who’s reading them.
4-stars: Books I really enjoy and would be happy to re-visit/re-read. Awesome execution, compelling characters, interesting worlds—there’s a lot that can catch my eye, and with any 4-star book there’s something I really love about it.
5-stars: The best of the best. Top of all lists. These books touched my heart and changed my life. I don’t give out five star ratings often, because they really have to make an impact. There are books I’ve read ten or more times and they won’t get five stars from me, because that’s how exclusive that club is. (That said, my five-star rating books aren’t for everyone. Usually they hit me in the feels in very specific ways, and other people might consider them 4-star books, rather than 5. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. :D)