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Rating Books – Tweaking CAWPILE to Fit My Needs

I starting using CAWPILE to rate books in 2022. I really enjoyed having a more systematic way to rate books and the stats from the spreadsheet. However, I did find a few things not to my liking or needing a little update to match my personal preferences. I wrote another blog after 6 months of using CAWPILE that goes into detail on that. But here is how I’ve updated it for myself for 2023.

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.

Update #1 – Weighting the Categories

The first change I’ve made to the CAWPILE rating system is to weight the seven categories differently. In my mind, I care much more about the characters than the atmosphere and so on. So I decided that they should not receive equal weight and updated the average 1 to 10 ranking to give double weight to a few categories and even triple weight to one.

The three categories that I’ve given double weight to are Characters, Plot and Logic. I can never decide if I’m a more plot-driven reader or a more character-driven reader. I want both to be good and my favorite books are a split of plot and character driven books so I really like both. But either way, these two categories are very important to me. Having great writing and a great atmosphere means little to nothing if there isn’t a good plot and characters to go with it. Logic also received double weight because this is where world-building comes in. As someone who reads a lot of fantasy, world-building is often a deal breaker for me, I need a world that makes sense and is well explained.

Then the one category I decided needed triple weight is Enjoyment. I read because it’s fun, enjoyment deserves to impact the final rating more than any other category.

So now my average score out of ten is based on Characters x 2, Atmosphere, Writing, Plot x 2, Intrigue, Logic x 2, and Enjoyment x 3. I think this will allow me to rate each category truthfully and come out with an average score that reflects what’s important to me.

Update #2 – Changing the Ranges

I have discovered that I have a really hard time giving books the highest or lowest scores in any category. In 2022, only 1% of my scores were 1s and only 4% of my scores were 10s (which includes some rereads that got 10s in multiple categories). This is just never going to change and it made it near impossible to get a rating of 1 or 5 stars. So I tweaked the ranges slightly to reflect what in my mind on the 1 to 10 scale equates to a 1 to 5 star rating. I did not update the half stars as I’ve gone to using full stars only for my own ratings.

Star RatingOriginal CAWPILE RangeMy Range
0 stars0 to 1.0None – See Note
1 star1.1 to 2.20 to 2.4
2 stars2.3 to 4.52.5 to 4.9
3 stars4.6 to 6.95.0 to 6.9
4 stars7.0 to 8.97.0 to 8.5
5 stars9.0 to 108.6 to 10
I can’t imagine that I’d ever get a score below 1 but if I did, I’d want it counted in the 1 stars.

I think this will allow me to rate books the same but see more of a range in my star ratings and more accurately reflect how I feel about the book.

Update #3 – Define the Ratings

The one thing I did after my first 6 months of CAWPILE was to put together a little key for myself on what the ratings mean to me. The original spreadsheet has some guidance for rating on the 1 to 10 scale but it’s generic and I just felt like I was making up numbers to match the star rating I thought it should get. So I made myself a numbering system for each category and I’ve tweaked it slightly throughout the last 6 months but overall, it’s been super helpful. Here are how I define the various 1 to 10 rankings. I do give half scores (like 7.5) if I’m stuck between two.

  • Character
    • 10 – I would die for them
    • 9 – I’ll think about these characters often
    • 8 – The characters are really good
    • 7 – I really like some of the characters
    • 6 – I sort of like a few characters
    • 5 – No strong feelings
    • 4 – 1 or 2 characters aren’t terrible
    • 3 – I couldn’t care less
    • 2 – I want to punch them. They don’t seem like real people.
    • 1 – I hope they die
  • Atmosphere
    • 10 – Setting is amazing and unique
    • 9 – I want to read more books in this setting
    • 8 – I really like the setting
    • 7 – Setting is pretty good
    • 6 – Nothing special, a few cool things
    • 5 – No strong feelings
    • 4 – A few things were good
    • 3 – Haven’t I read this before?
    • 2 – Boring, Boring, Boring
    • 1 – Where did this book take place?
  • Writing
    • 10 – Wow, that was awesome
    • 9 – Excellent
    • 8 – Very good
    • 7 – I liked it
    • 6 – It seemed pretty good
    • 5 – No strong feelings
    • 4 – I had to reread stuff repeatedly
    • 3 – Why would you do that?
    • 2 – They need an editor / I’m confused
    • 1 – They didn’t use quotation marks and other stupid choices
  • Plot
    • 10 – Awesome
    • 9 – Very unique and good
    • 8 – A little different, I liked it
    • 7 – I liked it but not unique
    • 6 – I liked about half of the plot points
    • 5 – No strong feelings
    • 4 – I liked one plot line but mostly bad
    • 3 – Totally predictable or confusing
    • 2 – There might have been a tiny plot
    • 1 – What plot?
  • Intrigue
    • 10 – Read into the night
    • 9 – Couldn’t put it down
    • 8 – I want to read more from this author/series
    • 7 – I thought about it while not reading
    • 6 – A few surprises
    • 5 – No strong feelings
    • 4 – I didn’t really want to pick it back up
    • 3 – Totally predictable and boring
    • 2 – It dragged on and on
    • 1 – It’s only how many pages?
  • Logic
    • 10 – I could be queen I understand this place so well
    • 9 – I understand this world and then some
    • 8 – I totally understand this world
    • 7 – No holes but I have questions
    • 6 – Mostly explained but a few holes
    • 5 – No strong feelings
    • 4 – Some really big gaps
    • 3 – The author never explained stuff
    • 2 – Most stuff made no sense
    • 1 – Nothing made sense
  • Enjoyment
    • 10 – I need to read it again
    • 9 – I’m sad it’s over
    • 8 – I had a good time
    • 7 – I’m glad I picked it up
    • 6 – I didn’t hate reading it
    • 5 – No strong feelings
    • 4 – Eh, I’m done
    • 3 – I’m glad it’s over
    • 2 – I should have read something else
    • 1 – Why didn’t I DNF?

Example – Assassin’s Quest

To show how this works, here is how I rated my most recent read, Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb.

Characters – 8.5: This is the third book in the series and I really like the characters. They’re not all-time favorites but several characters are very well done.

Atmosphere – 6.5: The setting has some cool stuff but mostly was just fine in this one. Lots of traveling where the setting was just cold woods.

Writing – 7.5: I like Hobb’s writing, it was quite good.

Plot – 6: There was some good stuff in here but too much of it was boring traveling.

Intrigue – 5: I was definitely intrigued by the beginning and ending but the middle was boring. I evened it out for no strong feelings and a 5 rating.

Logic – 7: The world-building for the overall world is very good but mainly done in the earlier books. This one had some additional information on the magic that I thought was confusing and a little weird.

Enjoyment – 7: Despite some issues, I’m glad I picked it up and will continue in this series.

So with the weighting, the overall average is 6.92 out of 10. In my ranking system, this equates to 3 stars.

In the original CAWPILE calculations, this would still have been a 3-star read although in that system it falls pretty squarely in 3 star (6.79 and 3 star is 4.9 to 6.9). In my system, it very nearly was 4 stars (6.92 and 3 star is 5.0 to 6.9). I was torn between 3 and 4 stars so CAWPILE did its job and helped me decide. In this case, my changes didn’t change the result, but I know it will for other books so we’ll see how this works for 2023.


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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