How I’m Reviewing Books in 2021 – The CAWPILE System

A photo of a typewriter with a page that has 'Review' typed onto it.

As I’ve mentioned a million times, 2020 was my first year of reading and reviewing books properly. I went into 2020 giving most books 5 stars, and the more I read and the more I got into the swing of reviewing, the less frequent they became. When I was writing my 2020 wrap up, I noticed just how many 5 star reviews I’d given out and up until around August I don’t think I’d given out a 3 star review (I’d given out lower and higher.. I just didn’t give out 3 stars). I think that the lack of 3 star reviews was because I’d got it in my head that 3 stars = bad book which completely isn’t the case.

When looking at how I could improve my reviewing going into 2021, I came across a blog post which mentioned the CAWPILE reviewing method and I was completely intrigued. After a little bit of digging, I found that this was a system created by Booktuber Book Roast.

The CAWPILE system is a way of reviewing books more critically, and not just plucking a number out of thin air, which is what I’ve been doing for the last year. CAWPILE stands for:

C – Characters

A – Atmosphere

W – Writing

P – Plot

I – Intrigue

L – Logic

E – Entertainment

Each category is given a rating out of 10. Add all of the scores up and then divide the total by 7 (because there’s 7 categories). This will come out with a very exact number which you then reference against this system to get a star rating (or just use her spreadsheet because it does it all for you)

Up to 1.10
1.1 – 2.2
2.3 – 4.5☆☆
4.6 – 6.9☆☆☆
7 – 8.9☆☆☆☆
This table shows what star rating the number you calculate equates to. For example if once you’ve added up the score from every category and divided it by 7 and the number comes out at 7.7, then it is a 4 star read.

I’m really glad that I’ve found this method as it will mean my reviews are more consistent, and not just going off whatever mood I was in when I finished the book (anyone else!?). I’m also not the kind of person who gives for example a 4.25☆/5 or a 3.5☆/5 rating. I like all of my ratings to be round numbers – otherwise it just gets a bit complicated and daft – so this works really well for me with it just coming out with 1 rounded number.

I’m hoping to move away from the ‘it was really good’ or ‘it was alright’ book reviewing system I was using last year as let’s be honest, it wasn’t working. I’m hoping by making me critically think about many different factors rather than the book as a whole that my reviews will become generally better!

A Google Sheet spreadsheet which contains an example of how the CAWPILE rating system works. It has the 7 categories along the top, and then the score I gave for each. With the overall star rating of the book at the end.
Here’s an example of the spreadsheet and how it works. These are my two most recent reads.

If you want to watch a video of G from Book Roast explaining the CAWPILE system, then this is the most recent. In the description of the video there’s the spreadsheet for you to use the CAWPILE rating system for your own book reviews. Click here to watch the video!

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7 thoughts on “How I’m Reviewing Books in 2021 – The CAWPILE System

  1. I’ve seen this around, saw all the data, got terrified and ran away 😂

    My review ratings are vaguely based on *feelings* and do sometimes change when I’ve thought about the book more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the same. My ratings highly depend on what mood I’m in when I finish the book. In the circumstances where I wasn’t in the greatest mood when I finished the book, I’d give it 24hrs before posting a review anywhere!


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