Exclusive, elusive, excellent: The Five Star Post

I read a lot of books. I read about 205 last year (approximately 4 books a week) and I liked most of them. My rating average is 3.78, which is pretty high, and I have no one-star books. But rating is really, really hard. I often will look at a book again and change my rating. I have very few 5 star reads- maybe 15 a year. In this post I’m going to discuss why I give so few books five stars, why my ratings can change, and what the best books look like.

sorry about the terrible writing!
sorry about the terrible lighting!

So, on goodreads (which is pretty much the way I deal with all the books in my life) I have a read-again-and-again shelf. This is for books that a) I’ve read again and again or b) that I plan to reread in the future. These are all 4- or -5 star books and I think that they are worth rereading (I’m a rereader!) This and my “yes” shelf are the ones I really like. I should actually make a five-star shelf, but I haven’t yet. The thing is, that I give well over 50% (maybe 65%) of books that I read a four star rating. And I can’t help wondering if this is because I have good taste in books, because I’m not afraid of dnf’ing (did not finish) bad books or because I guilt myself into thinking that a book deserves five stars.

Some of my five star books/series (I can’t be bothered with links, sorry)

-Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton

-Old Kingdom by Garth Nix

-Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper

-Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

-Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

DSC02279I’m inclined towards imperfect ratings. Occasionally, my ratings goes down (The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl) but often they go up. I find that I am thinking about this book a lot. I am recommending it to all my friends and librarians. I want the next book desperately. For example, Cinder, one of my favourite books EVER, got a four star rating at first. Some of the books named above I read in the Dark Ages (pre-goodreads), so my rating had maybe changed, but I will mark three star books up to four and five stars down. My ratings change, because though no book is ever perfect, the ones I mark as five stars are as close as it comes. Initially, I see the imperfection of a book as I rate it, and then I write a review (at least most of the time) and it helps me to process. But I have marked upThis Song Will Save Your Life, Legend and Rose Under Fire, because all books have imperfections, but for me these are as good as it gets. Ratings are not written in stone: they change, you change.

This part of the post is highly subjective! Don’t get angry, just discuss in the comments.Also, this is for novels I read for fun. Non-fiction and school are a bit different.

My perfect book is strong in character and setting. The way that the characters engage with their environment and the world around them makes me think about my choices and my world. The characters are real in their thoughts and actions, written complexly, and a little bit flawed.DSC02282 The book will have a plot that is fun to read and it will have a writing style that is clear. There will be less infodumping and more subtle realisation of setting. The book will be funny and serious. There will be friendship and love, and complexity of good and evil which makes you question your own morality. You will never be bored while reading.

Does any book perfectly fit this description? NO. Am I going to keep reading and writing anyway? YES. Is Goodreads amazing? OH YEAH.

Do you find rating hard? Do you change your ratings? How would you describe a perfect book, and have you ever read one? Do you love goodreads like I do? Tell me in the comments!

Oh, and by the way: Shar and I have lots of exams over the next month, so we’ll be posting a bit less. But we’ll still reply to all your comments and post at least once a week. Okay? Okay.


6 thoughts on “Exclusive, elusive, excellent: The Five Star Post

  1. I like rating when I can, but essentially I’ve come to the system of “do I want to read this again?” and if I do then good and if not okay. I’ve changed my ratings before, especially because my idea of a perfect book constantly changes. 🙂 I’m not a Goodreads fan like you (although I do have one), it’s a lot easier for me to keep track of books in a different way. (Also, I have not read those books. Alas. 😦 )


    1. Yeah, rating is hard. And it is difficult for me to separate enjoyment from depth. There are lots of different ways of categorising books and maybe my passion for goodreads came off as a little obnoxious in this post, sorry. The question really is: is there such a thing as a perfect book? or is it different for everyone.


  2. Hi Shanti!

    Nice, informative post! My ratings do change, but usually during the time I’m reviewing a book (I count this time period as when I start writing review notes and to the moment I actually publish the review). I really try to sit down and think about my rating as I’m starting the reviewing process. I would say the perfect book out there is Dangerous Girls by Abby Mcdonald. It’s SO twisted and perfect, and gosh, I’m still shocked today by the plot twists and all of the crazy characters. I really suggest you check it out!


    1. I have heard of Dangerous girls, but haven’t gotten ‘around’ to it it yet. Thinking about ratings is important, and we shouldn’t give automatic stars, so it’s definitely a topic worth thinking about


  3. First of all, Tiger Lily is one of my favorite books of all time too! *high fives*

    And I completely agree with you on this. I rarely give any books 5 stars, because those are pretty much my favorite books of all time. When I do give books five stars, like you, to me it signifies that the writing, characters, and plotline were all well-developed and complex. Not only do they have to be perfect in the technical aspects, but they also only had to have impacted me specifically in some way too.

    Thanks for sharing, and fabulous post! ❤


    1. Tiger Lily was fantastic. I listened to the excellent audio version. Yeah, five stars are really good. I definitely agree about the personal impact.
      You’re welcome!


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