Trying Books With Bad Average Rating, Part 1: Discussion and TBR

Throughout the years, I’ve become very picky when it comes to selecting what books to add (and keep) on my wishlist and to-read list. I’ll admit that I delete books from them relatively easily, but can you blame me? There are too many books, and not enough time to read them all, so seeing a negative review from a favorite blogger? DELETE. I keep forgetting what the book is about? DELETE. I’m tired of seeing the same book on my tbr, and thinking I’ll never get to it. DELETE. 

These are fast ways to reduce my to-read list, and they work well for me, so even though it might be unfair for a book to delete it because I forgot what it’s about, I’m not mad I use these “methods” to lower the number of books on my tbr. But there is one thing I’m ashamed to admit – I’ve been known to lose interest in titles simply because they had a low(-ish) average rating on goodreads.

me after that admission
book cover of The Hazel Wood

Thing is, I know this is a bad way of judging a book – especially when I’ve come to a point where anything lower than 3.7 makes my fingers itch to delete a book from my shelves. I’ve read plenty of books that had low average ratings, but I enjoyed the heck out of them, so rationally, I know that a bad (and especially a mediocre) average on Goodreads doesn’t necessarily indicate the quality of a book. For one, I read The Hazel Wood in 2018, and I found it beautifully written, engaging and atmospheric – a strong four star read that was close to reaching the magical fifth star. Yet, I cannot let go of this way of thinking.

I’m also fully aware that extremely highly rated novels don’t always work for me. Why seeing a high average rating can strengthen my excitement, I doubt I’ve ever added a book I wasn’t sure I wanted to read solely because it had a nice rating. So why do I delete a books from my tbr solely because they have a bad/mediocre rating?

I really don’t have an answer to that question. But because I know this way of deciding is not the best, I’ve been working on unlearning in. Even so, I tend to have less motivation to read low rated novels than high rated novels, which is obviously not ideal. I should be able to concentrate on the blurb, and on reviews – see what aspects worked, and what didn’t for reviewers, and decide if a book is for me based on that.

In an attempt to prove to myself that low ratings don’t matter, I am making a post – well, two posts – for this topic. As you’ve seen, today’s post includes a discussion (and I can’t wait to hear your input as well!) and information about, plus my expectations for the five books I want to try for this series. The second post, coming on Saturday, will feature my opinion of the first few chapters of these novels – I’ll tell you my first impressions as well as my final decision: am I going to continue these books, or am I getting rid of them?

Marni Bates

average rating: 3.11

number of ratings: 238

why so low? Reviewers found this book confusing and messy, some even said they couldn’t understand what was happening at certain parts.

my expectations: I’ve read and liked two novels by Bates before, which is why I originally purchased Dial Em for Murder. The fact that nearly every review mentions it being confusing seriously worries me, though. I mean, a mystery novel that leaves you not only unimpressed, but massively confused is the. worst. thing. ever. To be brutally honest, I’m not expecting to like this, at all.

Rachel Heng

average rating: 3.31

number of ratings: 2400

why so low? A common problem people had was the MC, who didn’t feel truly well-written. Also, some say the world building is well done, but if you think think it through, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

my expectations: The premise sounds unique and fascinating – a world where people can live forever raises a lot of questions, and I’m curious how they’ll be handled. It does worry me, however, that the heroine wasn’t complex or well-written according to many, because I’m more a character than a plot person. Still, with such a cool concept, I feel like I’m going to enjoy this a whole lot. We shall see, I suppose.

Iain Reid

average rating: 3.38

number of ratings: 22,388

why so low? I’ve seen people say that the plot wasn’t well-written, or was too weird – the ending is something more than one reviewer found hard to grasp even after reading it multiple times. Still, the general consensus is that the writing and story-telling is great, so there are good things here.

my expectations: I have pretty high expectations for this one, to be honest. I loved the way the blurb sounds, and it looks like something fast and short, but still impactful. I can be very frustrated when I can’t something, so I’m very afraid of that.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

average rating: 3.65

number of ratings: 1992

why so low? Honestly, I had to scroll down a bit to get a negative review, which goes to show that 3.65 is not at all a bad rating. Some mentioned not liking the characters, or finding the plot lacking, but my favorite person has to be who claims CDT is “preachy” because it covers social issues. I mean, thank you for making me more pumped for this, I guess?? 

my expectations: As my previous sentence shows, I’m pretty damn excited for this, and I believe I’ll love it – from it being diverse to the unique world and vampires, Certain Dark Things is screaming my name. 

Jennifer E. Smith

average rating: 3.68

number of ratings: 30,472

why so low? Oh boy, there are a lot of reasons why reviewers didn’t like this, some of the more common ones are how it wasn’t unique, how the romance was hard to root for because there was no chemistry, and how there seemed to be zero plot. 

my expectations: I loved The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but dislike This Is What Happy Looks Like by Smith, so this could go either way, I suppose. I’m thinking it’s going to be okay, but somewhat mediocre. We shall see. 

Let’s chat!

Do you judge books based on their goodreads average rating? Have you read any of these novels? What were your impressions? Don’t forget to check back on Saturday for the results!

20 thoughts on “Trying Books With Bad Average Rating, Part 1: Discussion and TBR

  1. Pre-judging books based on mediocre GoodReads ratings? *raises hand slowly* Guilty! I do it all the time. And to be honest I don’t feel bad about it because, like you mentioned, it’s just one more way to keep my TBR in check. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! LOL

    I’ll be interested to see how your experiment goes! The only one of them I’ve read is The Geography of You and Me. I think I gave it 3 stars. It was my 3rd book by Smith and the one that finally made me think, “You know, I don’t think her books are for me.” There was nothing *wrong* with the story… it just felt very generic to me. And the characters were apart for 80% of the story and that got old for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True – we HAVE TO keep our tbr in check. Even though I said I won’t do it again I ended up deleting multiple new releases from my tbr/wishlist because of their ratings. ๐Ÿ™ˆ

      Yeah, I read two books by Smith, and then started another one – Windfall, I think it’s called? – and I couldn’t even get into that. There are a few authors like that, who feel very generic to me, but have tons of (successful) books out, and I just don’t get the hype haha.


  2. I find all of Jennifer E. Smithโ€™s books very mediocre. I never think that her characters have much chemistry, and the stories are just dull and predictable. I wish she would put more twists into her stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want to be like that, too!! But then I always think of how I’ll have less books on my tbr if I delete ones that have a mediocre rating. ๐Ÿ™ˆ I don’t do it with authors I love, or books I’m very excited about, so that’s something haha. And I agree about deleting problematic books.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm this is interesting! I don’t really judge by its rating, but lower rating tends to make me read existing reviews more carefully. If, most of the reviewers tend to agree on the same thing that is my bookish pet peeve (girl hate, too perfect/passive mc, etc), I’ll skip that book. I’ve only read the Geography of You and Me- I think the concept is really unique and I love the blooming chemistry, but that’s just it. I felt like it never got developed and yeah, it is a very generic story ๐Ÿ˜…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely do that too – depends on the book, really. If I’m excited about it, I’ll do more research… otherwise I usually just delete it. ๐Ÿ™ˆ Oh man, you’re like the third person to say that The Geography of You and Me is generic, so I’m worried alright.


  4. I love this! What an interesting premise! I actually don’t delete a lot of books from my tbr, but I have to admit that I do lose interest based on average ratings. Which just doesn’t make sense because 4-5 star average books have been 1 star reads for me so… >.< I'm interested in reading your thoughts on the books you chose!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I only use average ratings to deter me from a book, IF I am on the fence about it being a ME book. When I do that, my cutoff is 3.5 stars, because there are many books I awarded 3.5 stars and really enjoyed. I love JES, and The Geography of You and Me was another fun and cute Smith book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a great post! To be honest, I could probably stand to be a little more selective about the books that I add to my GR TBR cause it’s so big that it’s just silly now ๐Ÿ˜‚ I don’t tend to pay as much attention to the overall rating as much as I do to the reviews left by people I follow or reviewers I know have similar tastes as me. Looking forward to seeing what you thought of these reads and this trial!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I never really look at the average rating, but more so my friends ratings. If my friends and people who usually share my opinions disliked it then… sometimes I still give it a try? I really read reviews so it depends on WHAT they actually liked or disliked about it. From your list I have Certain Dark Things and I have heard that it is either okay or bad but I still want to try it anyway as well ๐Ÿ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

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