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Rating Books – My Experience Using CAWPILE for 6 Months

As I looked back on my 2021 reads at the end of the year, I realized my ratings were all over the place. My ratings were often swayed by my general mood, if it was better or worse than my prior book, or other facts that didn’t really have anything to do with the book. The ending of the book also seems to have a huge impact on ratings since it was freshest in my mind. Especially with reading a lot of ARCs, I wanted to fix this. I stumbled across CAWPILE and have been using it for all of 2022. Here are my thoughts after rating 50+ using this system.

Background

CAWPILE is a rating system created by Book Roast on Booktube, you can find the 2022 version of their CAWPILE video here. The rating system using a 10-point score for seven different categories to generate a rating on a 5-star system, with and without half stars. The seven categories you rate each book on are Characters, Atmosphere, Writing, Plot, Intrigue, Logic and Entertainment, hence CAWPILE. This system is widely used in the bookish community and comes with a monster of a tracking spreadsheet to calculate your ratings as well as track a bunch of other stats.

My Thoughts on CAWPILE

I like having the rating system to help guide my star rating. Most books I find I already have an idea what the rating will be but when I’m stuck between two ratings, it does help to break it down into these parts. I feel a lot more confident that my ratings are consistent across books I have read. That said, I still do find the system a little too open-ended and arbitrary.

Finishing a book and then rating the characters on a scale of 1 to 10 is just not as easy as it sounds. There is a cheat sheet to help with the scoring but it is generic, to be used across all categories. I plan to put together my own explanation of what each score means. This probably sounds ridiculous but without me having some kind of scale, I do sometimes feel like I base the 1 to 10 scores on the star rating I think the book should end up with and that just defeats the purpose all together. So some kind of scale like 1 being I hope they die in a horrible accident, 2 being I’d really like to slap them, all the way up to 10 being I want them to be my new best friends and I’ll be heartbroken if anything happens to them. Yep, I need that scale for all of the categories and will be figuring something out.

The only other thing I don’t love about the rating system is that it’s really hard to get a 1, 2, or 5 star rating. It seems to push all of my rating to 3 or 4 stars. I don’t think I should have a ton of ratings that aren’t 3 or 4 stars but there are some books I thought deserved 2 stars that I had to go back and lower some scores to get it there. I think this is just from my natural instinct to not want to give the lowest or highest scores to any book. Maybe I can fix this by defining the ratings more but otherwise, I may need to tweak what ranges go to each star rating (most importantly in the half star ratings, all of those round down when it goes to full star only ratings and if it’s really close, I thin half stars sometimes need to round up).

Long story short, I do really like having this framework to rate my books but I think a little extra effort on my end will tailor this system better to my own personal taste.

The Books

One of the things I looked at in writing the above was my highest and lowest CAWPILE ratings to see if it lined up with the best and worst books according to my memory. Things sort of line up but definitely not perfectly.

I’ve given 10 5-star ratings so far this year, but that’s actually 9 books as I read Heartstopper Volume 4 twice. This also includes 2 rereads, The Hunger Games and Black Sun. So it’s 7 individual new reads. My favorite book of the year so far is Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer but this is actually the lowest rated of my 5-star reads according to CAWPILE. Still, these are all great books. Here’s the full list:

  • Know My Name by Chanel Miller – 9.36
  • Misrule by Heather Walter – 9.21
  • Castles in Their Bones by Laura Sebastian – 9.14
  • Twist of Fate by Kelley Armstrong – 9.14
  • Heartstopper Volume 4 by Alice Oseman – 9.07
  • Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse – 9.07
  • Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer – 9.00

I did the same with my 1-star reads and these I definitely agree with. I’ve given three 1-star ratings and The Beholden was by far the bottom of the barrel. As I mentioned above, you really need to give horrible scores across the board to get CAWPILE to come out as 1 star so I’m not surprised this list is short but these all deserved it.

  • This is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kacen Callender – 2.29
  • A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha – 2.29
  • The Beholden by Cassandra Rose Clarke – 2.00

Spreadsheet and Stats

I give Book Roast a lot of credit, the spreadsheet is pretty great. It is built in Google Sheets which initially bugged me since I don’t know that program very well and I know Excel extremely well. But being able to easily access it from anywhere is nice and it works well. I think for next year I may get rid of some of the categories of information just to make it more streamlined to the stuff I actually care about. But it’s great to have a starting point if nothing else and it makes some nifty graphs. Here are some of my 2022 stats which are fun to look at and give you an idea of what this free spreadsheet can really do.

I’ve finished 55 books so far in 2022 and DNF’d two books. I’ve read 19,089 pages, which is only from completed books and pages count only towards month when I finish the book. I also use a reading app that tracks daily pages read and I use that as a better way to get pages read each day/month.

About 67% of books I’ve read are physical books from the library and about 25% are eBooks which are mainly ARCs. I’ve also read 4 audiobooks and for 1 book, I read a combination of the physical copy and the eBook.

I’ve rated 67% of books either 3 or 4 stars. I’ve had 10 5-star reads and 3 1-star reads.

I continue to read books mainly by female American authors but the percentages are slightly lower this year. About 29% of the books I’ve read have been from BIPOC authors which is nearly identical to last year. In a new stat for this, I read slightly more books from authors I’ve read from before than new-to-me authors. I’m actually surprised that’s not higher given the number of series I read.


Thanks for reading! If you use another system for rating books or have made any of your own adjustments to CAWPILE, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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