#LetsDiscuss2022 #3 – Joy & Sorrow – #DiscussionSunday.


Seeing as last year I had a whole bunch of books that I gave 4.75/5 stars, I thought about…

What makes a 5/5 star book?

Discussion Sunday 2022


These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section. So, with that out of the way… let the controversy begin!

What made me think about this topic?

As mentioned above, last year I had a bunch of books that I gave 4.75/5 stars, and I was wondering what it was that prevented me from giving those books a full 5/5 stars.

My Thoughts…

This is actually going to be a pretty short answer. Basically it is two things (and there’s a hint to those in the title of this post).

First, if you can make me laugh, there’s a very good chance that the book will get a high rating. There have been books I’ve read where I smiled and giggled the whole time I was reading them, and invariably, these books got very high ratings. However, humorous books that made me only smile here or there, might just miss out on that final quarter of a star.

Second, if you can make me cry, well that means you’ve touched my heart. If you can touch my heart, then you’ve made me emotionally invested in the characters – even if I didn’t like everything they did or approve of some of their choices. If I’m emotionally invested in the characters, then it is almost a complete shoe-in that the book will push me over to full 5/5 star ratings.

Obviously, quality writing and a story line that keeps my interest play a big part in my ratings as well. But if you can make me laugh or make me cry… you’re absolutely on the right track!

There you have it!

So… what about you?

How do you determine if a book deserves a full 5/5 star rating?

This post is my 3rd entry in the 2022 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!


38 thoughts on “#LetsDiscuss2022 #3 – Joy & Sorrow – #DiscussionSunday.

  1. I often find myself giving a book five stars if I can imagine myself re-reading it. It is almost as if I am making it into a modern classic. Five stars means the book has something important to say and I imagine it will keep on saying it long after I am done reading it. I’m pretty stingy with my five stars, obviously. Here is my February discussion topic: What do you do when a favorite author dies? Let’s Discuss!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy a book with good characterization. If an author has created a realistic, strong woman, even better if there is an obstacle to overcome, then I will finish the book. I adore books that have MEMORABLE characters that you continue to think about long after you’ve read the last page.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely agree about the emotional connection! Aside from being well-written and all that other good stuff, I need that emotional connection to make it jump to 5-star level.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I started reviewing on Amazon and their guide to ratings is simple – 4 = I like it, 5 = I love it. So I used that, and have stuck with it ever since. Since I basically love reading, the result is that over half of all the books I read get 5 stars. I’m OK with that, and think they deserve it. But it does make it harder to differentiate the truly stellar books, so I do that in words – “recommended” for a solid read, “highly recommended” for an excellent book, and very occasionally an exceptional book gets “my highest recommendation”.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s been a long time since I read a book that I would rate 5/5, but I read 3 (out of a 4 book series) about England and the Vikings in the time of King Alfred by Millie Thom and would definitely rate them 4 1/2 out of 5. They were thoroughly enjoyable with in depth characters and being a female author, less of the battles and blood and gore and more emphasis on the way of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great topic! I tend to agree with the emotional content, though I give 5 stars for more reasons. In my Eiffel Tower ratings (https://wordsandpeace.com/2012/07/20/my-rating-system/), I titles 5 stars as “OMG, you have to read this book NOW. So a book that I want everyone to read. Usually based on the quality of the writing.
    Keeping track of my books this year with CAWPILE has been actually good at looking more closely at how I rate books. See how G at Book Roast put that together (the video will start exactly at the CAWPILE part): https://youtu.be/P0uGtQlxb2E?t=690)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think I would have to care about the characters to give 5 stars to a book. Sometimes it’s a book I wish I had written or that I know I want to own or read again. But I guess it is a bit indefinable.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. a book that is heavy on the historical dramatics of the time and a quick wrap of an ending as if the author ran out time and must finish the book usually does not sit well with me; thus they get a very low rating; well never a five. I don’t know if anyone understand what I meant; reading a book that seems good from the beginning; it grips you at the start (thrilling you, filling your imagination as you become an inhabitant and on and on is the read) than an abrupt ending…well either you did not read it fully to see what was taking place and missed the clues or you were mislead in that it was not a good book but you soldiered on reading to the very end which seemed an abrupt ending.

    Not really, I read plenty of good books with abrupt ending and it’s annoying when the book just end; here’s the killer and that is that; or they live happily ever after and that is that.

    So what could be a better ending; cite an example

    Don’t bother; abrupt ends are the worse is all that I meant to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I totally agree there. Having dragged me solidly into a period of time and the dramas going on, to be dumped back to reality at the end as the author cut things short always leaves me unsatisfied. Rather like those movies that leave you not really knowing what happened at the end, one of those WTF moments!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My approach to 5-star ratings is very unscientific — if I finish a book feeling like I wouldn’t change a thing, it gets 5 stars! Like you, especially if it made me laugh or cry, but also if I feel an afterglow of happiness or an emotional connection… or it was just so silly or off-the-wall that the reading experience was outstanding. Super subjective, but then again, aren’t all ratings?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I agree, particularly with your second point. However good an author’s writing is or how great their plot might be, if they don’t make me care about the characters I’m unlikely to give the book five stars. When I think of my all-time favourite books, nearly all of them are books that made me cry – and a few made me both laugh and cry!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I agree with most of your previous commenters,. An emotional connection though I don’t have to laugh or cry necessarily. And a book that lives in the mind long after being finished – one such as Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend the Living, which I’ll never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, one that stays with you is important, but… you don’t usually know that will be the case when you’ve just finished reading it and are writing the review. See next week’s discussion article that touches on that.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Emotion is one of the most important criteria for me to give a book a full 5-star rating. Usually, it means it makes me cry, but it could also be that it makes me think really hard about something. Or I continue to think about the book long after I’ve read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t give my reviews star ratings on my blog, but I am forced to on Goodreads and find it very difficult. I hardly ever give a five-star review, but to get one, a book has to transport me to a different place and time, get me really involved. Making me cry helps. I struggle with Goodreads ratings because I seem to give a lot of three- and four-star ratings, but in my mind, I’m giving out 3.5 or 2.75. You get the idea. And what that means is that it may look like I like two three-starred books the same, but one might be barely three stars while another is just short of being four stars. I think you’ve conquered that by allowing the fractions. That’s why I have avoiding using ratings at all. When I first started blogging, a couple of friends asked me to include ratings, but I understood that as just a way to avoid reading most of the reviews, so I didn’t do it.

    I am always a little suspicious of star rating systems anyway. I have one blogger friend who always mentions how many stars a book has on Goodreads, but if you look carefully at Goodreads, I defy you to find any book (except a known difficult classic) that has fewer than close to four stars or more on Goodreads. That’s because there are a lot of easier graders than me, and also because so many people are rating that there are bound to be lots of people who love books that I can’t stand. That’s why, to me, reading the reviews makes more sense than looking at the star rating. One of the worst books I ever read had a 3.75 rating on Goodreads. It was only reviewed by about a dozen people, and it was clear that most of them were the author’s good friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, the star ratings on Goodreads are never an indication of if you will like it or not. No two people read the same books, remember! I’ve read 5 star reviews there for books that were SO badly written, I couldn’t believe they were real.

      Liked by 1 person

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