What Makes a Five Star Book?

chatI’ve been using Goodreads a lot more recently as well as Letterboxd (pretty similar but better features and for films! Give us the half star option Goodreads, please!) and this has made me rate books using a star rating more. I never used to do this much a few years ago and I think blogging has made me more aware of it but I really struggle with them sometimes. Seeing everyone else rate a book with star ratings makes me subconsciously do it now and sometimes I really struggle and just write a paragraph about how I feel overall about the book as well as what I liked and disliked. I am intrigued however, by how people work their star ratings and I wanted to have a little chat about it. 

I suppose this sounds a little ironic, but I would be a terrible reviewer. Yes, I know I co-run a blog on which we both write reviews but in terms of writing pure reviews and being a ‘professional’ reviewer, I’d be terrible. I’ve read quite a lot of people’s reviews, from casual bloggers to ones written for online newspapers, but I’ll be honest here – I don’t really use individual reviews to choose what books to read next.

From speaking to others, I think a lot of people are similar. If a person I know recommends me a book because they think it would be my thing or they’ve really enjoyed it, I’m very likely to add that to my TBR and want to get round to it. I will check the rating on things like Goodreads just to see what the general consensus is, but even if it is fairly low on there, if someone I know thinks I will enjoy it then I trust them.

I find it hard with writing reviews sometimes as they are subjective. I think sometimes a lot of ‘professional’ or formally written reviews try too hard to be objective but I honestly really struggle with that. How do you objectively review a book? I know there will be a kind of skill to it but at the same time, there isn’t one right answer.

For me, rating a book, or film, is very much based on feeling. I’ve read some books that are brilliant but they aren’t a five star for me because they don’t feel like a five star. I’m not being pretentious here, not at all – to be honest, I think a lot of other people will feel the same way.

I recognise that some of the books I rate as a five star have elements I’m not a huge fan of but that doesn’t matter. All my favourite books have an odd, even just tiny thing I don’t like but nothing is perfect – and that’s okay and completely normal. If something really speaks to me and I connect with it for whatever reason and love it, then it’s a high, probably five star rating. All my favourite books are ones that have affected me in some way or have made me see things differently, and that is the most wonderful thing to come from a book, film, tv show or anything!

How do you rate books? And what makes a five star for you?

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10 thoughts on “What Makes a Five Star Book?

  1. Same it mostly feeling to me, I am very hard to please when it comes to 5 star reviews. If the book completely sucks me in and I don’t notice the pages turning then I know it will be a 4 or a 5.

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  2. I definitely agree that some books just feel five stars for me, and for me five stars are a lot more about personal feelings and likes rather than if a book is good literature if that makes sense? 😂😂 I am also really fussy with my five star reads like a four star read for me is a really good read that I would definitely rave about and recommend but a five star read just had that something special that made me fall in love with it!

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  3. Totally agree – I give four star ratings all over the place. But five star ones are those that leave me feeling like they were something extra, even when I cannot put my finger on exactly what it was. And some of those still have issues with them, but I can overlook that in the greater scheme of my feelings. I’m a super emotional person. haha

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    • Exactly! I recognise a lot of my favourite books have some issues (however big or small) but I address them and overlook them if I can. I can criticise my favourite books though and I think that is a fairly important thing to be able to do. I’m also super emotional so I think ratings are very based on that! – Sophie x

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  4. I will forever side-eye Goodreads for refusing to introduce half-star ratings, and their reasoning behind it. 😦

    This is such an interesting discussion, I rarely give books five stars, but I agree with you on how they’re all based on a connection I formed with it, no matter if there objectively may be “faults” with a book. 🙂

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    • RIGHT, honestly all I want is the half star option because in my opinion there is a big gap between a 3 star and 4 star etc. The people at Letterboxd are babes for giving this option for film fans.

      That’s really cool to hear! I find it really interesting to hear what people think about ratings and how they rate books – Sophie x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I always find I give my 5-star ratings to my favourite books only, and I could really like a book but still give it 4 stars because I didn’t completely adore it. That being said, I’ve kind of stopped using star ratings now on my blog and I’m finding it so nice to just write my thoughts about something without having to think about the rating I’d give it!

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    • That’s really fair – it’s a bit thing to rate something 5/5. And I love that! It’s the same reason I’ve changed the way I write reviews because I don’t like as much structure and I have fun writing it more as thoughts than as a strict review – Sophie x

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