22 comments on “What Makes a 1-Star Book?

  1. 1 star books are pretty much always DNFs for me now. Occasionally I will read to the end for book group but no one minds if you hate it and don’t finish. I don’t really review DNFs any more, it’s a bit like why waste the time? I might put one line on Goodreads.

  2. I definitely agree with all your reasons for rating a book 1-star. I’ve rated pretty much everything I’ve read on GoodReads, so I went to check and found I have only given 5 books 1-star ratings. One I felt guilty about because it’s a classic, but I truly hated it when I read it for school, “The Jungle.” The others were just awful experiences and I wish I could have gotten my time spent reading them back! Another was an early book by Janet Evanovich that got re-published after she got popular was one I barely even have words to describe how bad it was — I had a good laugh about it with my grandma and aunt though because they are Evanovich fans who can’t stomach her really early stuff either. And the two Incarceron books — they were just so bizarre and I don’t know why to this day I bothered with the second book — wishful thinking that they would get better? If I didn’t start DNF’ing I probably would also have a few more to add to the list.

    • Learning to DNF hasn’t completely solved my problem, since it might not help with those first two reasons. But looking through my list, I do wonder how many that fall into that third category I would give up on if I read them now.

  3. The Just Wasn’t Worth It option is frequently why I give 1-star reviews (or would potentially since I most often just don’t finish those books). It’s so sad when a book lets you down like that though, reading is for fun and it’s such a disappointment when you pick up a book that doesn’t bring that enjoyment. I love the image you included for this post btw – it’s so fitting and kinda hilarious! Poor guilty book! :D

    • I actually used it in my 5-star post too… I just liked how it represented judging the books. But I guess it does seem extra stern in this context.

  4. I wonder if there’s something to add here about expectations. I think that when I dislike a book that the rest of the world seems to crazy love, it sort of makes my dislike of it more vehement — like if I’m the only person in the world available to dislike this book, I’d better dislike it EXTRA HARD. Do you ever have that reaction?

    (I have it going the other direction too. There are a few books (Mary Renault’s The Charioteer, Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Greensleeves) that not very many people seem to have read, and so my love for those books has to be extra extra emphatic, to make up for it.)

    • Yeah, I have a few of those books. I’d say more often those hyped books that I just don’t get end up as 2-stars… I didn’t actively dislike it, I just didn’t see what was so great about it. But there are a couple 1-stars that fall under that category, and you’re right, I do sort of hate them the most!

  5. I have rarely given 1 star reviews, but when I do I agree that they illicit very strong feelings. I also put my DNF books in this category simply because I rarely DNF and the few that I have just ticked me off for one reason or another … again, a strong feeling!

    • See for me, DNF’s aren’t necessarily strong feelings. A lot of the books I give up on aren’t making me angry, but they’re not making me want to keep reading… so a good chunk of them probably would end up as 2’s.

  6. Funny thing is I have a hard time giving out 2 stars and 3 stars.. but one stars I can hand out like candy. If I am really disappointed in a book.. BOOM 1 star! I do give DNF 1 star too. I know that is whole other debate but from me they get the 1 star!

    • I have no problem giving out 2-star ratings… but, it takes a lot for me to really dislike something rather than just dismissing it as not for me.

  7. My 1 stars are DNF. When I dislike a book this much, I rarely finish them. I also dislike 2 star books but there is usually one aspect that will make me keep reading to the bitter end. And my main feeling when a book is 1 star is disappointment; there was a reason I picked it up so it’s sad that it failed to deliver. But expected too, we can’t love them all.

    • When I DNF, it could be for any number of reasons, so I don’t feel right rating those. That said, there’s definitely a correlation between the time I started DNFing and a sudden drastic decrease in 1-star books.

  8. I feel the same way, although I guess I’m slightly less likely to give a book a 1-star rating than it seems like you are. A book pretty much only gets a one-star rating if I DNFed it. If I was able to at least finish it, that signifies to me that it pretty much belongs in the at-least-2-stars zone. There’s only been one (I think) book that I’ve ever finished AND rated 1 star. And that was because I felt obligated to finish it, but really really wished that I’d just decided to DNF it, so it was basically almost kind of like a DNF.

    But I’ve been known to even give DNF books higher than one star, too! Maybe I’m too nice? I don’t know. Sometimes there are books where it’s an “it’s me, not you” kind of thing, where I can appreciate the book itself but just am not into it and need to DNF it for one reason or another…so I might decide to give it 1.5 or 2 stars because I could objectively see positive things about it that made me not want to rate it only 1 star. Great post!!

    • I don’t rate DNF’s. I suspect if I did, more of them would be 2-stars than 1-star. I might give up on a book for many reasons, but it’s more likely to be indifference than actual dislike. Thanks for reading!

  9. I’m with you 1 star produces a strong feeling of dislike, I agree with your points and for me I’d expand the list to include incorrect information, this applies more to historical fiction but can seep into other genres too. It makes me angry and these days I don’t finish books like this but I do a short review explaining (nicely) why it didn’t work for me!

    • Inaccuracies don’t normally bother me unless it’s a subject I’m really familiar with. Then it can be hard to let go. But for the most part, I assume historical fiction (and other genres as well) will take certain liberties.

  10. If I was compelled to continue reading rather than DNF, and then at the end a “meh” book got even worse, I think I get angry more than anything else! Interesting post, lots to think about.

Comments are closed.