21 comments on “What Makes a Five Star Read?

  1. I’ve given this a lot of thought as a reader and as a writer. I love that you opened it up for conversation!
    Your observations are interesting and engaging.

    Perfect pace is a characteristic I like to see in a story. Too fast or too slow leaves me uninspired to race back to the book when it’s reading time.

    Well-drawn characters are a must. Even if I don’t like the character I want to know all about them and understand them.

    Twisty plots! I love surprising, yet inevitable twists and turns in books. Sandra Brown is great at them.

    Heart-felt romance. Give me the feels! It’s why I’m reading the book. If they’re absent, well…I may never get back to that author. Nora Roberts has mastered this, which is why she has published more than 200 books.

    Immersion. I am always looking for a story to draw me in and make me forget all about the clock. I have about an hour a day to read, but a great book will wipe all the rules out.

    Fantastic world-building. I love fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi, where stories are set in worlds we don’t know anything about before we read that story. Show me a world I’ve never seen before and you’ve got me hooked.

  2. “Stories about stories” — I am WEAK for those! Especially when it throws you in right from the start. Maybe it’s the child in me but I still love those words: “Once up on a time…” or any variation thereof. Sort of along those same lines —> I love when a story opens up with a poem or a riddle and you have to piece it all together as you go.

    • Me too! Stories themselves are eternal, and yet they constantly evolve over time, so there’s something about a story that harks back to those that came before it that just works so well. Glad to know you enjoy it too! 🙂

  3. I personally also agree about your points of atmosphere and beautiful language, both of them usually tying close with each other. Amazing writing is definitely an aspect that can make me think that the book is exceptional and deserves 5 stars.

  4. What you said!! But seriously, sometimes I become so engaged that something as simple as making me laugh or cry is a sure sign that it’s worth top marks. Okay, not always, but if the writing flows and I’m transported into the story enough to feel what the characters feel – that deserves top marks because the author did what they intended to do and connected with their reader. There are times I have to stop myself from giving a lower rank if I don’t like the ending! I have to judge on the quality of the story and how much I engaged, not whether I was satisfied on how it all turned out! 😁

  5. I was just thinking about what makes that difference for me between a four and a five star read last weekend since I’m having a year where I’ve read a lot of great (four star) books, but very few five star reads, so I loved reading your list! I’ve been thinking about mine and we have some of the same elements! I’m a sucker for stories about stories as well, and beautiful language sways me. I also enjoy books with layers that I can get something new from when I re-read it (Dorothy Dunnett is great for this), and flawed characters are a big draw, I’d even go so far as to say characters who are morally ambiguous, or seem that way for awhile.

    I’d also add creativity to my list. I give points for creativity and if something is so wholly original that I’ve never read anything like it before, or if the book does something, with a character, a magic system, or in its world-building that’s unique, I find that very attractive. In sci-fi/fantasy or historical fiction I often enjoy politicking, either the politics of court or of a campaign or how it factors into the worldbuilding. I’ll have to have a think about other elements that speak to me, I’m sure now that I’m consciously thinking about them I’ll come up with more.

    • I seem to have become a little harsher in my ratings this year too. I’ve been giving out lots of three and four stars, but less five stars than before. The more I think about it, the more it seems to make sense though. I imagine we all simply become more analytical the more we read, as we continually refine what we do and don’t like, and improve our ability to pick things apart.

      Those are very good choices as well! It’s definitely interesting to look back on favourite reads and see what elements unite them.

  6. Pingback: Wrap Up: September 2018 or that was a three star kind of month – I have thoughts on books

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