What Makes a Book Five Stars?

I am a day late for this week’s Let’s Talk Bookish discussion, but I couldn’t miss out on this one. I know that a five star rating means something different to everyone, and it is something more instinctual for me, so it will be interesting to try to put down in words what makes a book a five star read.

How do you decide whether a book should get 5 stars?

Something that has really helped me is the CAWPILE rating system that was created by G from Book Roast on BookTube. This system allows you to assign a number between 1-10 to different aspects of the books such as the characters, the plot, and the writing. I love that there is a category for enjoyment, because I do think that plays a big part into my personal rating. I have been meaning to tweak this system a little bit so that it fits my reading better. For example, while plot is important to me, I do not give it the same weight as I do characters or atmosphere. Let me know if you would be interested in a post where I come up with my own similar based on CAWPILE.

Do you try to keep 5 stars rating prestigious, or do you give them generously?

I would say that I more generous than some when it comes to giving five star ratings! For example, I gave five stars to three books in a row this month, but they really did deserve it in my opinion. I think blogging has really helped me find the books I know I am going to love and I have such a clear handle on my reading taste that I tend to find more five star reads these days.

I just looked at my Storygraph stats for 2021 and I have given 15 books fives stars so far this year. That is actually fewer than I thought considering I have read 83 books as on July 30th. I am someone who gives half stars though, so I have a few 4.5 ratings as well.

Do you have a checklist of things a book must accomplish to be 5 stars?

I suppose that I do because of CAWPILE, which is an acronym that stands for characters, atmosphere/setting, writing style, plot, intrigue, logic/relationships, and enjoyment. So, if a book does all of those things really well they will come out at a five star! I personally put more weight in enjoyment than in those other categories I think, so I definitely need to adjust the system a little bit.

Also, if a book brings up a lot of emotion, whether it makes me cry, laugh, angry (if that was the author’s intention!), etc., I am more likely to give it a higher rating because it obviously means that I formed an attachment to the book and its characters.

Are 5 star books perfect, or just very good?

I actually don’t think that there is such thing as a perfect book! For example, Never Let Me Go is my favourite book of all time, but I recognize its flaws and can see why others wouldn’t like it. A five star read doesn’t even have to be perfect for me. The three books I gave five stars to in July had there little issues but they were not enough for me to deduct a star!

What are some of your favourite 5 star reads? What made them stand out?

There are so many! I am going to share a few of the standout five star reads that I have read so far in 2021. They all stood out for their own reasons. Some had unique settings or characters, others were perfectly paced and memorable, while other still were thought-provoking and have stayed with me, or some combination of all of these and more.

I would love to know what makes a book five stars for you! I am so curious!

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24 thoughts on “What Makes a Book Five Stars?

  1. Can’t wait to read Project Hail Mary! It’s next on my list after I finish the ones I am currently reading so i am super happy to see it’s on your 5stars list.

  2. I love how this post has me thinking analytically before my morning coffee. Haha!

    This CAWPILE rating system is similar to how I rate books, but it’s more number-oriented. I think about prose, plot, characters, and enjoyment; if fantasy, I also consider the magic system and world-building. I suppose I change the structure to cater to each book, now that I think about it, which makes me want to sit down and rethink this process.

    I’m not very generous when it comes to 5 stars; those are reserved for my absolute favorites, like Dune, as an example.

  3. 5 star reads make an emotional impact in some way and give me a book hangover! A 5 star read has to have a WOW factor! I give 5 stars sparingly. I’ve given 6 so far this year with a few more 4.5s that I rounded up.

  4. I’m an emotional reader, so I’m also an emotional rater. I should be more objective about my ratings, but if I close a book, and I’m still thinking about it then it’s either a 5 star because it moved me so much, or it’s a one star because it was so horrible I’m still thinking about it.

  5. My 5 star reads are those that I desperately want to find out what happens and am then bereft when it’s over 🤷🏻‍♀️😂 I have to care about the characters and like them – I hated Atonement because I couldn’t stand anyone in it

  6. I feel I’m pretty generous with 4 star ratings! For me, 5 stars is for books that were one of a kind, impacted me a lot, and I had little fault with. CAWPILE sounds very interesting—I’ll have to look into it!! Wonderful post Kristin 😊

  7. I don’t use CAWPILE personally but I think it is a fantastic system and more accurate than just rating something 5 stars. I hope to listen to Project Hail Mary at some point this year, it seems like something I would really like!

  8. I usually only give five stars if it’s a book I’d like to own. It’s definitely not a specific checklist thing, more a total internal knowing thing.
    I’m very liberal with four stars, but give out the five if I feel a book has earned a spot on my bookshelves!

  9. I think that if you don’t want to stop reading, you care about the characters, and the end of the book makes you slowly close the back cover and just let those last lines sink in, that’s the mark of a 5-star book.
    If you want to read it again, then it’s well deserved.

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