What does five stars mean to you?

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What does five stars mean to you?

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helmikuu 25, 2019, 11:27am

Finish the sentence, "When I award a five star rating to a book, it means ..."

I know there's a small minority who will never award five stars, on the principle that nothing is perfect. Outside of that response, what's yours?

I have given five star ratings to books I would never read twice, and sometimes not given them to books I count among my favourites. I don't demand divine perfection, because this is a human scale. When I give a book five stars, I'm saying several things at once:

- in the context of this kind of book, or for the subject matter, this one really stands out and deserves to be counted
- the author poured heart and soul into this, combined with a fine talent, and it shows
- it's difficult (not impossible) to imagine how anyone could have done this any better (context again considered - time and place of writing, etc.)
- what imperfections there are did not affect my enjoyment
- this might be a milestone read that altered life, or at least my reading life, for me in some way

helmikuu 25, 2019, 12:09pm

There is also a larger minority that gives out lots of five star ratings.

I seem to be at 1-2%, which feels about right. Many of these are the books I've been going back to again and again. Theology seems to do better than that. Fiction worse. (Except that a fair number of the theology ones are fiction that I also list in theology.

I guess that's the clue. Not just that I really enjoyed them. (Those are the books with 4 1/2 stars.) But that they also mean something special to me, make a difference in my life, or at least have the potential for that.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 2019, 1:03pm

I was surprised how many there were when I looked - I didn’t think I used it much, but I’ve given 5 stars 95 times, which is something like 6% of the books I’ve rated, or 2% of the books I’ve listed. But quite a lot of those were given right at the beginning, retrospectively, and before half-stars were around (or at least before I knew about them). In the last few years I’ve been averaging about two five-star books a year.

From the list in >1 Cecrow: I think the first and last points are the ones that really count for me. Books that are outstanding in their category and without which my life would have been different and poorer. That’s the theory, anyway...

Most of the books I’ve given five stars to are world-class literary novels or history books no-one’s going to argue about, but there are also a few books that I felt really stand out in other genres - children’s fiction, travel, light fiction, memoirs, poetry, and so on. Also some reference books that fill a need particularly efficiently and reliably. And a couple that make me wonder if my finger just slipped too far to the right for once.

helmikuu 25, 2019, 1:45pm

Looking over my ratings, I find I'm a real harsh critic when it comes to stars. I've only rated 3 books as five stars.

And many of my ratings have a complex (in my head) formula I go through. If the story doesn't move well, or it has obvious factual issues, etc., they aren't getting a high rating. To earn five stars, I can't be thrown from the story by the earlier listed issues, and I must connect with/be moved by the characters, story, and writing.

I guess that's why I have only three books with that high a rating. I find it hard to meet that last criteria.

helmikuu 25, 2019, 2:04pm

Five stars--this book "sparked my joy"

Half a star--this book/its author is an abomination I invoke pox upon

helmikuu 25, 2019, 2:45pm

For the most part I only rate Early Reviewer books (because I think the publishers expect it) and I will rate my favorites as an indicator that they are my favorites. I generally don't rate non-fiction because I can comment on a book's readability or how engaging it is, but I am not usually qualified to comment on the quality of its scholarship.

That said, if I rate fiction a 5 (and most of my ratings are 5s) it's usually because I _love_ it. If you put the book in front of me I will drop everything and not be able to resist picking it up and reading it. Last year I read the same 4-book series over and over for 2 and a half months (sometimes backwards) because I just couldn't exorcise them from my brain. Books that are not diminished by a re-read -- those are my 5 star books.

I also sometimes rate books 5 stars because the experience of reading them was like a kick in the face. These books I may or may not read again, but I won't ever forget them.

(I will also sometimes only rate a couple of volumes of a multi-volume series rather than all of them.)

The problem I have, is that sometimes I might find a book to have very good quality, and I might enjoy it and seek out the rest of the author's backlist, and think it's worth recommending, but it simply does not provoke a hyperbolic emotional response from me. If I don't feel emotionally and/or intellectually wrung out then it doesn't get 5 stars because that's what I want from my reading.

helmikuu 26, 2019, 8:27am

I rate a 5 Star if I have learned something, the research the author has done and a book I would re-read.

helmikuu 26, 2019, 5:21pm

I make no effort to be consistent with my ratings, so primarily it's a guide to how much I enjoyed that book at that time.

5* I really had great difficulty putting this book down. The characters invade my thoughts, conversations sparkle, the worldbuilding is consistent inventive and thorough, you want to be there, the plot makes sense and has pace. The writing flows, sentences can be grasped whole and urge you onto the next. There is joy in the reading experience. Books I remember and urge others to read.

4* less than above, there are hiccups along the way. I can put this book down, but only at the next break. Some but not all of the following problems may be present - Maybe not enough characters with detail, or too many, Plots that drag a bit here and there, world that have internal inconsistencies, names and writing styles that require me to re-read sections.

3* generally ok but frequent problems from the list above

2* seldom used. Books that were ok but I didn't like. Unnecessary unpleasant scenes and characters. Coupled with poor writing heavy foreshadowing jumping POV.

1* worse than above.

1/2* wooden characters clump through unbelievable settings but the writing's so clunky it's hard to tell.

non-fiction: stars relate to readability and errors noticed.

helmikuu 26, 2019, 11:19pm

Five stars is a way to say “Hallelujah!” Or, if the book deserves something more in a Leonard Cohen mood, “Hallaylooooo ooh oo oooh yuh.”

maaliskuu 25, 2019, 10:42pm

I use letter grades in my journal, but they convert pretty readily to 5 stars for an "A", 4 stars for a "B", and so forth.

For me, a five-star read (an "A"-rated book) is one that will stay with me because it has an engaging story line and is well-written. It's often a book that goes into my permanent library (very rare, because of space limitations), or one that I will re-read, and/or one that I harangue my reading buddies about -- "You gotta read this!!!"

tammikuu 24, 2020, 9:52am

I'm kind of all over the place with star ratings, but I would generally say that I give 5* to books that I truly love and intend to re-read multiple times. It isn't predicated on how well written I think a book is, just how I feel when reading it.

tammikuu 27, 2020, 10:02am

"I love it, fiercely." That's what my profile says.

>1 Cecrow: Your definition is more generous than mine, describing my 4 or 4.5 stars. A book that I awarded a 5 is one that's a cherished part of my life somehow. I've likely read it a few times and tend to judge other books against it.

That self-centered meaning is for LT; I use a different rating system for Amazon, where I think more along the lines of "Do I want other people to read or buy this book?"