The Elusive Five Stars

Lately, I came to the realisation that I have barely given books the full five sparkling stars. I rate books really simply -- as according to Goodreads' explanation whenever you hover over the blank stars.

I'm no star-miser and I give plenty of 3- and 4-star ratings. I also rarely pick and read books I don't find any redeeming qualities or gave me utter grief. There's only one on my read list and that's Wuthering Heights. Even the stories I find hard to swallow, I find at least one element that I liked and the book becomes a 1.5 or 2-star. I'm not stingy, or picky, in fact, I want to give books ALL THE STARS!

Givin' out stars like a boss.
But at the same time, it seems to be getting harder for me to find a book that I feel totally justified in giving 5 brilliant stars to it. Does this contradict my earlier statement of not being a star-miser? I give full stars to books that:

  • Made me cry real tears (because normally, I'm a cold-blooded creature)
  • Made my heart ache like someone held it and is on the brink of crushing it in Evil-Queen-Regina-style
  • Gave me creeps so bad that I want to crawl under my sheets, close my eyes, and wait for daybreak
  • Got my mind spinning into overdrive because of all the questions and possibilities it brings up
  • Gave my imagination a run for its money by creating a world so beautiful, so vivid, so wonderful that it must exist somewhere in one of the many universes
That's about most of my standards, I think. I don't mean fulfilling all of it, just one will do. So you see? I'm not very picky, or am I? I guess it's still very subjective because everyone's emotional range is different and I do believe it takes a lot to push mine into Epic zone. God, I feel like a Sherlock.

Bored. Bored! BORED!
Do you have this problem, fellow readers? 


  1. Hi, I just found your blog through Oh, The Books!

    Rating books is SO HARD. I love to rate things, but it also stresses me out. I usually end up rating everything up, unless I'm in a particularly discerning mood, in which case I'm stingy with my stars. I often browse my Goodreads shelves and wonder how I could possibly have rated books so high. But I do agree that the difference between a 5-star book and a 4-star book is how it makes me FEEL. Great characters and a great plot mean nothing if I don't connect with them and come out with a book coma. :D

  2. Well, the more you read, the higher your standard will be. You're certainly not the only one, Tory! Many people generally experience the same way after they've been reading reviewing for some time. I do realize that I'm less inclined to give a book 5-star rating despite enjoying it. I take a lot of factors into account but mostly the characters, the pacing and the emotional impact. Though sometimes if my gut tell me to give a book 5 stars, then a 5-star rating is what it will get :)

  3. You're definitely not alone. I feel like it's much easier to rate a book three or four stars than five. I'm not sure if it's just because those books that I've given five stars are so good that nothing really compares, or if it's being slightly intimidated that if I give a book five stars people will expect it to be good so there's more pressure. I have no idea. But I do agree that those books that get five stars are the ones that create a reaction - the ones that make me FEEL and CARE and all that stuff. Especially the crying bit. I don't cry often when reading, so when I do it I definitely don't forget that book!

  4. Yes, I have the same problem! I can't remember the last time I've given a book 5 stars, when I used to give them out all the time. I guess your standards go up once you read more. It's sad, though -- I haven't been able to give out a 5-star rating this year so far! I really need another book like that to have me give them ALL THE STARS EVER. It's been a while since I loved a book so much!

  5. Yes, yes, yes! Although, I am kind of a star-miser. I've noticed that most books on my blog are rated three stars, only a handful are rated 4 stars, and NONE are rated 5 stars. I've declared the Harry Potter books to be five-star reads, and I haven't discovered any book quite like them since.

  6. Excellent post! I strongly agree with you that ratings and reviews are just very subjective and they all depends on our personal feelings when we read the book. Some of the reviewers rate a book based on several aspects of a book but I tend to rate a book higher if I enjoy the ending. I wonder if that's not a good practice.

  7. Hi Maraia, yay for you (or more for me, haha)! OTB is one of my personal top favourite blogs! :D

    I KNOW. I often rate things up right after I finish them then edit them down later on when I go on a Goodreads clean-up, mostly because I can't remember feeling good about that book anymore. It's ALWAYS the feels. There's also the occasional "peer reader pressure" where everyone loves the book and then I read it, I enjoyed it but then I wonder why is everyone giving it 5 when I feel 3-4 about that particular book. o_o

  8. Oooh yeah, that's true! It never occurred to me (until now that you've mentioned it) that I'm constantly seeking that same emotion that the books I've given 5-star ratings to in the newer books I'm reading. I guess I'm doing it unconsciously. :o I think emotional impact is what affects most readers in giving or not giving a book 5 stars. ;)

  9. ALL THE FEELS!!! We, non-crying readers, must unite! But it's also those books that made me cry that I avoid talking about with others (unless it was initiated by the other party) because I know that not everyone's gonna feel the same and I'd rather not get into an argument about it. Feelings are difficult to talk about for me, lol. All the books so far that have made me cry are contemporaries, and surprisingly (har har) I don't read them often. (GO AWAY, FEELS.)

  10. I think hype also causes me to NOT rate a book 5 stars because of all the expectations I have for it. I have rarely rated a book 5 that's new and that I've read upon publication. But I'm not an updated reader so I may be super excited about a publication, I may end up reading that novel one or two years later, lmao. So that kinda helps my case! :p

  11. Yikes! Haha, your fifth stars are more elusive than mine, aye! ;D I hope you get to find some 5-star novels soon, pretty sure you'll find them soon. HP is definitely hard to beat, but as a fellow Potterhead, I'd say it's only difficult, not impossible. ;)

  12. You're most welcome! It's great you can find love in lots of books. Most of the time, I only LIKE or ENJOY a book, that literally translates to 3-4 stars. It's hard for me to love something, haha. I'm searching (in the books I read) for an intangible emotional impact that's pretty hard to describe in words. It's that bit that makes something 5-star for me. ;D

  13. I think that however you rate your book, as long as you think it's justified, you'll be fine! Endings do make a difference! A book can be horribly paced or awkwardly written, but it can have a great ending or just one particularly great character that helps the novel to redeem another star for itself.

  14. Mine too! Not only are the bloggers the best, but their blog is always a great way to meet people - case it point! :)

    YES, peer pressure. I could pretend I never succumb to it, but that would be a lie. I know it does sometimes affect my ratings. (Also, if I read too many negative reviews of a book before reading the book itself, that often ruins it for me.)


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