Why Seven Mustaches?

You may be wondering “Why on earth did Lydia invent her own rating system? Why not rate books using the same five-star system as Goodreads, Amazon…” the list could go on, but I think you get the point. This question is more complicated than it seems. Here are just a few reasons why I opted to create the seven-mustache rating system:

  1. No one actually agrees on what a given number of stars means. On Amazon, a 3-star review is considered critical, while on Goodreads, that’s the “I liked it” level.
  2. The five-star system doesn’t allow enough gradation unless I can award half stars, and then there would be too many levels.
  3. If I just increased the number of starsthat would have been confusing. Imagine if I said something was a five-star book and you didn’t realize I rated on a seven-tier system. You would think that I thought that book was freaking amazing when I just found it enjoyable, but perhaps not enjoyable enough to reread or to own a copy.
  4. Mustaches are fun, and I like to be different. I had to pick something other than stars, and I’ve always had a fondness for mustaches.

Now that you understand my reasons, let me introduce you to the rating system, and what it actually means.

The Seven-Mustache Rating System Explained

The first thing I want to note is that I’m not only rating books. To some degree, I’m also rating my reading experience. If a book is great, but it comes into my life at the wrong time, it may get a lower rating than it deserves on its own merits. Conversely, if a book is mediocre, but it meets a need in my life at that time, it may get a higher rating. Everyone does this on a subconscious level, but I want to be transparent about it.

Some books are great the first time you read them or seemed great when you were twelve, but when you try to reread them, it feels like something is missing. Other books may be difficult to read the first time. Maybe the author showers you with character names like they’re confetti or there’s a ton of historical and cultural context you don’t understand. Years later, you may reread that book and find it much easier to become immersed in the story because you’re already acquainted with the characters and their world. With that in mind, here is how I award mustaches:


One and two-mustache books range from dangerous (i.e. promoting crimes, eating disorders, etc.) to just incredibly poorly written, formatted, edited, etc. I tend not to get far in these books because I consider them an obvious waste of time. I don’t review books on this level, because I have nothing good to say about them, and I don’t enjoy tearing books apart for spite.

Three-mustache books were okay. They usually have major weaknesses in the writing and I kind of regret reading them because it means I wasn’t using that time to read better books. Sometimes exceptionally difficult books get a three mustache review the first time I read them, but a four or five mustache review later when I reread them.

I liked four-mustache books. They weren’t mind-bogglingly awesome, but I don’t regret the time I spent reading them. They were entertaining and/or useful and I got real value from them. Some of the information in a nonfiction book may have been out of date, but there were still enough useful tidbits to keep me happy.

I thoroughly enjoyed five-mustache books, but not enough that I need to own them. I may never reread books on this tier, or I may if the whim hits at just the right time. I am more likely to own nonfiction books on this level because there were enough useful pieces of information that I couldn’t just take a few notes and return them to the library.

Six-mustache books were great. If I don’t own them, I’ll buy them, because I plan to reread them someday.

The seven-mustache tier is reserved for my absolute favorites. These books may not be flawless to anyone else, but I love them. They have made such a deep impact on my psyche that I can’t let them go. If I sold all of my stuff and moved into a tiny house, these are the first books I would replace in ebook form. They’re precious to me. I read them again and again and again. I buy copies for other people. I book evangelize because everyone needs these books in their lives.