F is for… Five Star Ratings!

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April 7, 2014 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm

So, I had originally planned to do a book review for the letter F, but then a whole bunch of things came up and it never got written… So I decided to do another discussion post instead!  Today’s topic, 5 star ratings 🙂

I’m not particularly liberal with giving a book a 5 star rating.  Only two books I’ve reviewed on the blog so far have been bestowed with this highest honour, The Book Thief and On the Jellicoe Road.  If you check out my Goodreads page, you’ll see that I’ve given other books a 5 star rating; some of these I’ve intended to be rated 5 stars (eg the Harry Potter series) and some of these I’ve actually rated 4.5 stars (eg Anna and the French Kiss, see my review).  That’s a quirk of Goodreads, and I’m sure you’re all aware of their crazy system that doesn’t allow for half star ratings.

So what gets a book a 5 star rating from me?  Of course, it goes without saying that the writing has to be stellar, with no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, but 5 star rated books have to go beyond that for me.  Number one, it has to give me ALL THE FEELS.

These feels can be happy or sad, or somewhere in between, but it has to touch me in some way.  I also have to be able to connect with the characters, and generally I have to like the MC – I really struggle to read books where I don’t like the main character, or at the very least understand why he/she is unlikeable.

More importantly, the characters have to stay with me even when I’ve finished reading the book; they become unforgettable.

I also think about whether a book deserves to join the ranks of those I’ve already deemed to be rated 5 stars – did I love it as much as I loved On the Jellicoe Road or Harry Potter?  Was it as thought provoking, as engaging as those I’ve already rated 5 stars, even if it was in a different way?  In determining that, I generally consider the abovementioned factors. That being said, I’m more likely to give a book a 4.5 star rating than a 5 star rating, especially if I’m a bit on the fence 🙂

That’s about it really!  What about you, do you hold back a bit on the five star reviews?  Or do you give them out willy-nilly?

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12 thoughts on “F is for… Five Star Ratings!

  1. Patricia says:

    I love to read and get ansty if I don’t have a book to read. I don’t give many 5 stars. But I probably give 4 stars too often. I guess I want everyone to read and I don’t want someone not to read a book because I said I didn’t like it.

  2. bookmammal says:

    Wow–I agree with every point you’ve made here! I don’t write formal reviews on my blog, but I do use the star ratings on Goodreads–more as a reference point for myself. I’m definitely not a “willy nilly” person–I think I’ve given out two 5-star ratings this year out of 30 books so far. I do often compare my impressions of a book with my thoughts about other books in order to arrive at a final rating–and sometimes I’ll even go back and change a rating after some time has passed and I’m able to compare a book with others.
    Nice post!

  3. I’m really stingy with my 5 star reads on the blog. I think in almost 2 1/2 years I’ve given out maybe 15? Maybe? Out of, I don’t know, about 400 reviews? Somewhere around there. For me they either have to have me so completely enthralled I can’t look away or days later still have me smiling or something along those lines. And gah yes I do wish Goodreads and Amazon would support half stars. That would be so nice!

    Happy A to Z-ing!
    ~Anna
    herding cats & burning soup.

  4. Cait says:

    I’m pretty liberal with my 5-star ratings. I mean, I don’t throw them out for no reason, but I do have STACKs of books I loved! It’s hard, though, because The Fault in Our Stars is like an aaaamazing and mind blowing book and I LOVED it beyond words. But then I just read Dead Ends and I loved it so much…but not as much as TFIOS. So do I give it 5? I had nothing wrong with it, so I did. Buuut, yeah, I have shelves for “super uber favourites” on Goodreads to class my 5-stars. x) I think Goodreads needs more ratings sometimes!

    • I get what you mean. I gave The Book Thief and On the Jellicoe Road 5 stars but they impacted me completely differently, and Harry Potter differently again. But even if I didn’t love The Book Thief as much as Harry Potter doesn’t mean it’s any less deserving of a 5 star rating 🙂
      I reckon I need to create a “super uber favourites” shelf – that would definitely help me sort out the ‘5 stars’ from the true 5 stars in my book. Damn Goodreads and it’s arbitrary rating system!!!

  5. I probably gave out more 5 star reviews than I should. Right now I am trying not to give books a star rating, but just talk about what I like/dislike about the book.
    However, I completely understand and agree with the reasons why you give books 5 stars. The characters and their stories have to stick with me. I have to love them and not want the story to end because I want to read more about them!

    Great post!

  6. littlecely says:

    We’ve been loaned “The Book Thief” the movie and I’m excited to watch it. I’ll read the book soon after. I feel that is better for me to do becasue when I watch something after I’ve read it, especially if it is fresh in my mind, I always find it lacking in some way.

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Hi! I'm Bernadette, a 27 year old lawyer who loves to read (duh!), especially to escape my day job. I love to talk about books but I don't always get the opportunity to do so, hence my blog! I adore YA literature, most genres of Adult Fiction, and I've also been known to pick up a non-fiction book from time to time. I hope you enjoy your visit!



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