Discussion: should we give books 5 stars? And if you do, what’s important for you?

Hi dear friends,

 

Today’s discussion topic is a “lighter” one!

It’s been triggered by some teacher of my daughter as she “never gives 100% (or 20/20)  as perfection is impossible and there is always room for improvement!”.

It made me think of our rating system.

5 stars is her “100%” and if we follow her reasoning we should never give them as the author can always improve something.

 

Do you agree?

 

Well I don’t.

I give five stars and even 6 stars or “all the stars”.

Does it mean that the books getting these ratings are flawless and perfect?

Not necessarily.

I give five stars and more for different reasons:

When a book made me feel everything the character’s felt. Preferably very powerful emotions. I walked in the character’s shoes, ate and drank what they ate and drank. I was them;

When a book made me forget the world. I was so immersed in the story that I could not stop reading and procrastinated on everything else (like chores, work, …). I usually end up hiding in the bathroom (the only place where the family does leave me alone, dog aside) to finish the book;

When a book opened my eyes. Made me see a topic under another light. Made me think. Made me doubt my beliefs. Humbled me;

When a book destroyed me;

When a book touched me deep in the soul.

 

Some of my five or all the stars:

A Charm of Finches by Suanne Laqueur; Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T Sullivan; From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (nearly all her books are five stars); Forever Right Now by Emma Scott (and her Full Tilt duet as well as her Beautiful Hearts Duet); Heartbreak Warfare by Kate Stewart and Heather M Orgeron; A Girl Like Lilac by Victoria L James; the Binding 13 and Keeping 13 by Chloe Walsh; The Silver Cage by Anonymous; A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi; A Curse So Dark and Lonely as well as Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer, I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios; Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff; The Honors series by Rachel Caine …. I could go on and on.

As you can see, emotions are key to my rating system.

Now let’s chat! Do you give five stars? What makes you give them? Do you have some books to recommend me?

Thanks for reading!

Sophie

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57 Replies to “Discussion: should we give books 5 stars? And if you do, what’s important for you?”

  1. I don’t need perfection to give a five star rating. After all (ahem), I’m not perfect. I consider the book within its genre and think about how it affected me emotionally. Did I LOL? Cry? Sleep with the lights on? Did the amateur detective in the cozy charm me?

    Good post, good comments from others!

  2. I am very stingy with my 5 stars and will only rate it a 5 if I can read it again! NOT that I will just the willingness to read it again will make me give a 5 star. That’s really about all that will do it. Otherwise it’s a 4/4.5 etc.

    Mary

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I am more generous it seems! Maybe too generous?

  3. Great post Sophie! I used to be far pickier with dealing out my 5 star ratings, but have recently become much more lenient with them. I’ve found that a deep emotional connection to the story is definitely a deciding factor in a 5 star rating for me.

    Also, I LOVE I’ll Meet You There! <3

  4. I totally agree! There are many books that have gotten a 5 from me out of emotion rather than perfection. In fact, A Very Large Expanse of Sea is one such example! I sped through it in less than 6 hours, I loved it so much, and so even though I didn’t ship the romance, I couldn’t not give it 5 stars! Most books that evoke an emotional reaction get a 5, sometimes even when beforehand they were merely a 3!

  5. I don’t think we should hand them out like crazy but I think, if a book deserves 5 stars, we shouldn’t hold back.

  6. I agree with you! When I give a book 5 stars (or bananas as the case may be 😉 ) it doesn’t mean it’s perfect- I always think of it as being perfect for me! I really like how you break it down- I really relate to your reasons for giving a book all the stars. Emotions are key to my ratings too. Wonderful post!

  7. Olivia-Savannah says: Reply

    I totally think it’s okay to give a book five stars. In some of my reviews I even explain how the book is imperfect but it is getting five stars anyway – because I loved it. And that’s all there is to it. It can be fun and enjoyable, you fall in love with the characters and are shocked by the plot. Which is all five star earnings for me. Especially if there are some deeper themes addressed as well.

  8. I do give 5 Stars Sophie, for the same reasons that you do. Even if it has a few minor flaws, I love it when a book totally wraps me up!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly Daisy! We have to forget the world!

    2. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactlt Daisy we have to forget the world!

  9. I had a teacher like that in college and it drove this A student insane lol! It’s forever stuck in my head and I definitely don’t agree. Especially when it comes to books. There are too many factors and reading is so subjective. I always give out 5 Stars if I loved the whole book, deeply connected to the characters, felt every emotion they did and know that the story will stick with me for a long time to come.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Same here Jen!!!!

  10. Absolutely! I love giving 5 stars, I can totally appreciate everything an author goes through to get these books in my greedy little hands. No one and nothing is perfect, but who am I to judge so harshly? Books provide an ESCAPE and if an author can successfully engage my mind for even an hour, I’m truly grateful! 🙂

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      100% agree with you TRisy!!!

  11. Ug, I’ve had a few of those teachers who never gave 100%. I just found them frustrating and bad for my GPA. I give 5 stars to books. I agree that no book is perfect, but if it makes me happy and allows me to escape from the world, I’ll give it all of the stars.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Escape from this world is one of the main reasons why I read books AJ!

  12. I definitely agree with you that a book doesn’t have to be “perfect” to get 5 stars. Reviews are subjective—and they should be—so we have to realize that 5 stars doesn’t necessarily mean perfection.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Nicole subjective is a key word here indeed! It’s how we experience the book! We are not professional publishers just readers and lovers of the written words. Reviews should show how we experienced the book.

  13. I’ve heard about teachers who don’t give 100% because of that very reason. But they especially do that for written assignments rather than things that multiple choice, for example. I think the reasoning behind it, for the written assignments, is interesting. It is true that a lot of things can be even better but sometimes the flaws makes the book even better and more “normal” too. I do give 5 stars when I felt like I was part of the adventure, that I got something more out of it, that I would re-read/re-watch it again in the future! Great discussion post, Sophie! 😀

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh yes! Being part of the adventure is a perfect way to describe it Lashaan! I must embark in the story, be swept off my feet!

  14. Ok, well i can’t even comprehend this…
    So, what happens when someone gets right every answer on a test? How many % is that? My brain hurts.

    But, back to books. Yea, i do give 5 stars, when i really enjoy a book. It’s never one thing… sometimes books make me feel / think all kindsa things and then it’s boom, 5 stars 😀

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Bwahahahah boom 5 stars indeed Norrie!

  15. I remember I had a teacher like that once too who never gave out a perfect score. I don’t really agree with that way of thinking. While I agree that perfect might not be achievable, that’s okay. If I give a book a 5 star rating it usually means I enjoyed it a lot and more than most books. I might still have some things I didn’t like, as I do believe even a 5 star book can have things I didn’t like. But that doens’t mean it doens’t deserve that 5 star rating.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly Lola! It’s how you experience the book that is important! Not his lack of flaws.

  16. I certainly give five stars! Yes, there’s always something that can be improved, but how the story made me feel, or how well-researched a non-fic book is and if it taught me things and was engaging, those are more important than ‘could this be improved?’ Also, your daughter’s teacher sounds like an @$$. That’s like setting kids up for failure…

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Well I do agree with you on the teacher’s part!!

  17. mmhmm- I have the same reasoning as you !

    My five stars are mostly ONE ID WANNA REREAD – very important as I love rereading, if that book was good but I don’t wanna jump in it again … well sorry but that’s sticks to a four.
    ALL THE FEELS !! yep, relating to this one again. I wanna feel something, I wanna be broken and have my heart shattered. I wanna laugh, or happy jump around… (though you’d say I cry easily.. mmh )
    Very important also, I need to be attached to your characters. Take Finch from all the bright places or Lucas from the sovereign serie – I need to want to scream about thoses EVERY.WHERE. no matter the reason. xd

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Re read and all the feels! This is a perfect summary Kristina!

  18. Urg I hate that philosophy! Yes there is always room for improvement but also nothing will ever be perfect. A 100% shouldn’t be an impossible grade! I would be very upset if that was my teacher! (tho I was also a math major so in my world if you got all the answers right you got 100% haha I guess there is more wiggle room in other subjects, but still! That sucks!)

    I am a super lenient grader/rater. I give 5 stars all the time! I rate based on how well I like the book, so if I love it then it gets 5 stars from me!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Ha yes math can lead to 100% indeed Brittany!!! LOL

  19. I think the most important point is to be consistent. So when I read a review from you, I know what your criteria is for a 5 star. I took ratings off my reviews. If you want to know my ratings, you have to go to Goodreads. I know many don’t like this but the more I blog the more I realize I have to do what works for me. ♥️

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Of course you have to do what works for you Dani!!!! This is YOUR blog and YOUR rules 😉

  20. I think I want to be the voice of dissent here, by saying that if you are going to use a rating system, and then, explain that 5 stars (your choice) means a book is great. You need to clarify by what criteria. Then, I’m happy if you say your 5 stars is about “the read” and not about the book, and all that that entails, including (as I do in my own personal reviews) 5 different criteria.

    I think it’s all about making sure readers of your reviews understand what those criteria are, and why you award them. Then we’re all good.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahaha Alexandra be the voice of dissent then 😉 I explained my rating system on the blog so I hope I should be good! But honestly reading is such a passionate affair for me!

  21. I agree! I give books five stars when they make me think about them for a while after I’m done or when they completely pull me in. 🙂 Does that mean they’re perfect? No but they still deserve five stars to me.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly Abigail! They stay with us, leave a mark!

  22. Five stars from me means I loved the story. It might not be perfect but it worked for me. Made me feel and stayed with me.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      What a perfect way to summarize the “5 stars effect” Laura!

  23. First of all, that teacher is ridiculous. While it is impossible to be perfect, it is not impossible to be perfect on one paper. You get all the answers right, you were perfect. I put smile-y faces in my students’ 100s because I WANT them to get one. Ridiculous.

    Second of all, I completely agree that giving a book 5-stars does not mean it’s perfect. I even write sometimes in 5-star reviews “The one thing I didn’t like is…”. 5-star just means I’m in love with the book and want to read it again and again and again. My BIL does movie reviews, and he never gives anything an A+, though, so this is a thing that people do.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Katie I completely agree with you on the teacher! I am not a big fan of her!

  24. For me, five stars doesn’t mean I think the book is perfect. To me, it means I loved the book, it’s a favorite, and I want to read it again and again. I don’t give a ton of five stars, but there are books that knock it out of the ballpark for me and I love.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly Kelly!!! It’s really personal how we give them.

  25. I agree. If a book is amazing to me or becomes an immediate favorite, that’s a 5 star for me. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just moving or impactful to me in some way so that when I finish it, I’m like now THAT was a truly awesome read!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Impactful! I love that word Greg! Yes it fits perfectly for a five star read!

  26. I rarely give five stars and one stars to a book! The book doesn’t need to be a perfection but it must fully entertain me. It was one of those books that you want to finish in one sitting.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly, finishing it in one sitting can be a good clue it will be a 5 stars!

  27. I agree with you and Confessionsofayareader. I’ve wanted to give books 7 stars – 5 just isn’t good enough at times. Case in point, the River of Time series by Lisa Bergren, a time travel tale set in medieval Italy before the Black Death that is too die for, with romances that are sexually pure rather than purely sexual. If you haven’t read it, do now, right now! 🙂

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahahaha OK miss bossy pants LOL

  28. I agree with your points and I am sorry your daughter has that teacher. It’s horrible to have mentality and be over anyone. These authors can not make everyone happy however they will touch someone and they deserve credit for that not being told it wasn’t good enough. Sorry for the rant but I had a teacher like that once when I was little and after a while you just feel like nothing you do is good enough. Again sorry for going on. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Well I totally get your rant Sophril!!!

  29. I don’t give book five stars very easily like I don’t give them one star either. I give books five stars when they make me want to recommend them to everyone and when the book might even be called one of my favorites.

    It sounds weird for teacher not giving children 100% if they did well enough to deserve it. I was never those students because I was lazy af but if I deserved one and as a kid and I had a teacher like that I’d have been so sad.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Wanting to push your books on everyone is a good sign they deserve 5 stars indeed Jamsu LOL

  30. I agree with you. If it captures me and tells me a great story, then yes 5 stars.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      The feelings are the most important aspect of the readinge xperience!

  31. That’s a really odd thing for a teacher. I understand encouraging kids to do better. But she’s really telling them that they’ll never be good enough. Ugh.

    I give a lot of books 5 stars for most of the reasons you mentioned above. The book doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s how I felt reading it.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Same here and I can’t say that I am a big fan of that teacher!

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