Read Local


In keeping with numerous popular platforms’ standards, we use a one-through-five rating system (though we add our own spin by using “to-be-read piles” instead of stars, diamonds, jewels, and the like). But how do we assign a number of TBR piles to a book?


Assignment of ratings to books, of course, involves subjective determinations, and each of our reviewers has their own standards and preferences. But we wanted to include some basic thoughts to help demystify our TBR-pile assignments.


First, we don’t plan to post books that earn only one or two TBR piles.


1 = this book isn’t worth reading.


2= this book was so-so.


3 = a “decent read indeed.”


A three rating means we enjoyed the book. It didn’t catalyze deep introspection . . . change our life plans . . . make us reevaluate all our literary preconceptions . . . or land the book on a shelf next to the Nobel Laureates. Maybe the book could even have used another editorial pass or two. But it was a good read.


Some of our reviewers add a plus or minus to their ratings, especially ratings of three, to help boost a book or to express a wish that the book had had just a little more of that “something” that makes books pop.


4 = this book is totally worthy of inclusion in a person's to-be-read pile.


A four rating fits for great reads. The reviewer really got something out of this book. Maybe the story sent them on a new life journey, or the prose leaped off the page and galloped into the heavens. Books that earn a four might win contests or launch authors into speaking engagements to discuss unique adventures.


5 = add this one to your to-be-read pile right now!


A five means this book hit the reviewer hard, reached in deep, made that reviewer’s head ring. . . . A book that earns a five deserves attention. The prose dances, the ideas sparkle, and the story cries out from the pages. Occasionally, a reviewer may prize prose over story or may fall in love with the topic of the work regardless of hiccups in the writing. But a five indicates that, for that specific reviewer, this book meant something more.


On rare occasions, a reviewer won’t assign a rating. The book involved solid execution but was “too quirky” to really capture the reviewer’s interest. Or the story was great, but the mechanics lacked. Something along those lines may mean that a reviewer doesn’t feel comfortable putting a number on a book. (Honestly, putting numbers on books can feel quite sticky!) So they don’t.

Read Local, L.L.C., is a small (we hope to grow!) community of book lovers. We review books published by independent/university/small presses and post our reviews and thoughts in an effort to raise awareness of independent-press books. The Read Local, L.L.C., entity is owned by the parent company of Stoneman House Press, L.L.C., and that publisher's work appears on this website (we make money when Stoneman House sells books), but not everyone who writes content for us or participates in our community works for Stoneman House. Aside from Stoneman House, we also have relationships (personal and/or professional) with some of the authors whose books appear here. Some (like Sage Webb) write reviews for us and help lead us (and they make money when their books sell). We note when we have a relationship with a book, publisher, or author. Otherwise, we do not have relationships with the authors and publishers listed here. They appear here only because we liked their books and we like reviewing books. (We will be as transparent as possible when we post here about things in which we have a financial stake. Not just because of regulations like those in Part 255 of Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations, but because we really are here just to have some literary fun.) If you are an author or publisher of a book that appears here, feel free to reach out to us! We'd love to hear from you. We are at And if you are an author or publisher and you would like us to remove your book from our site, just let us know. We are here to serve the literary community. If you have questions, reach out.

(We also love innovative art and photography. Just sayin'.)

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