JULY 30: WHAT MAKES A BOOK A 5 STAR READ? (SUGGESTED BY M.T. WILSON @ THE LAST BOOK ON THE LEFT)
Prompts: How do you decide whether a book should get 5 stars? Do you try to keep 5 stars rating prestigious, or do you give them generously? Do you have a checklist of things a book must accomplish to be 5 stars? Are 5 star books perfect, or just very good? What are some of your favourite 5 star reads? What made them stand out?
I think 5 star reads are really interesting. As I’ve read more and more, I’m giving less and less 5 star ratings to books and I think that this is because I’ve got more to compare them to. I would say I give them out generously, nor do I hold them back. I rate pretty instinctively so I don’t think that there’s always a huge rhyme or reason behind it; I go with my gut.
Here are a few things that do influence my decision:
- PLOT: For me, plot is really important, especially as I tend to read a lot of crime and thrillers. I love plots which keep me on the edge of my seat, wanting more and that shock me or in general provoke an emotional reaction.
- CHARACTERS: I like my characters to be complicated and morally ambiguous. A character or a story that is too clear cut isn’t going to float my boat. I also like to see character development through the story. It doesn’t matter to me if the characters are likeable; it’s more important that they are interesting.
- EMOTION: A book needs to provoke an emotional response. I need to feel invested in the story, to sympathise with the characters or to despise them, to be moved by their story. Emotional reactions don’t necessarily require me crying, it could be getting my heart racing or me whooping for joy.
- WRITING STYLE: There isn’t one particular writing style the really does it for me. I sometimes like things to be full of metaphors and imagery. I sometimes like the book to be to the point. It has to fit with the theme of the book and the atmosphere the author is trying to create. One thing that is a turn off for me is unbelievable or cringe dialogue.
I also firmly believe that the rating we give a book is dependant on the mood or place (physically or mentally) that we are in. For example, when I read Normal People, I’d just had got back in touch with my first boyfriend to hash something out, therefore the narrative of first love really resonated with me. I read The Midnight Library when I was starting to go through another really anxious period so the narrative of regret struck a cord. I suppose something about 5 star reads is when I can see a part of myself reflected in them.
Here are my 5 star reads so far from 2021:
There’s thrillers, crime, horror and literary fiction in there. All the books are really different. What they have in common are brilliant characters, excellent plot and provoked an emotional response.
As this is such a subjective topic, I’d love to know what makes a 5 star read for you!