Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Cocktail & Conversation --- About Our Rating Systems

Every other Thursday here at the Broke & The Bookish is  A Cocktail & Conversation time. One of the TB&TB members will pose a question to 2-3 of the other members of TB&TB crew about books, life, music, etc and then they'll answer and we can converse about it. So grab a cocktail & cozy up for some conversation. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, friends.

What makes a book a five star read? How about a one star?

Jamie says:  THAT IS SO HARD because it depends on the type of book. Mostly 5 stars have it all though -- writing I love, made me think, characters I believe in, a story that was unputdownable and mostly EMOTIONS. Most of my 5 star books made me FEEL lots of things. I'm kind of stingy with 5 stars. Like let's say I'm reading something more on the light side but it was super awesome. I might give it a 4.5 because it didn't have the WHOLE PACKAGE. 5's are very special. A 1 means I would rather massage my husband's feet after a day of work and the gym before I touched that book. I don't stars mean the whole time I was probably wanting to put it down because something about it was REALLY bothering me. I don't have many one stars because I typically put them down before I finish.

Bridget says:  A book for me is a five-star read if it makes me take much longer lunch breaks than I'm supposed to and makes me stay up way too late because all I want to do is read. If I'm absorbed in the story to the extent that I think about it even when I'm not reading, even after I'm finished with it, it's probably a five-star read.  A one-star read, in my opinion, is one that spends either too much or too little time on world-building. Too much is just boring and tedious, but too little means I have no idea what's going on. This is my issue with most fantasy: you just get plopped in the middle of a brand new universe with all these new words that you have to figure out. And of course, a bad ending (i.e. either one that doesn't wrap things up, or one that I just think sucks) can ruin even the best book.

Lori says:  For me, a five-star read is a book that just gets to me.  I get totally sucked into the story.  I totally relate to the characters or can at least see their point of view.  I don't want to put the book down, so I usually stay up too late and/or skip meals because reading is obviously more important at that point.  The writing has to be really good in addition to having a good plot and good characters.  There are usually quotes that just knock me off my feet because they are so amazingly true.  I am really trying to be more stingy with my fives.  I think if I went back through my Goodreads list, most books would lose a few stars because on reflection they were just good reads, but didn't necessarily touch me.  A five is just special.  Like Jamie, a one-star read means that I just couldn't get into it.  I don't have many of those for pleasure reading books because if I hate a book that much, I usually just don't finish it.  There are a few books from classes that I have given one star because I had to finish the book and just hated it the whole time.  A lot of things make me not like a book, but being overly preachy and moralistic will make me hate a book

Tahleen says:  A 5 star review for me has to really affect me, make me pause in my reading to reflect, and stay with me for a while. It also must have excellent prose without it feeling like the author is trying too hard to be literary, and the characters must all be well-rounded and fleshed out without stock characters poking around. A great plot can certainly help, but that, for me, is not necessary--I like a good character study just as much. Basically, the book has to say something important without being preachy or overbearing.  I guess for a 1-star, it has to be pretty badly written with no interesting or compelling characters, and with offensive or harmful stereotypes or portrayals of certain ethnic, generational, cultural, or really any group of people. A book has to be pretty bad to get a 1-star review from me.

What about you?  What are your criteria?


  1. For me, a 1 sets up a plot or problems that could be solved easily, but instead, the person who could clear things up just can't manage to get the words out, or something equally stupid like that. To me that's just lazy writing. If I'm convinced that a story is written the way it is because the author couldn't come up with a better idea, it's a 1. A 1 could also star characters who make inexplicable and really stupid choices, not because they don't have an option, but because they're just idiots. I don't mind unlikable characters, but stupid ones that I'm supposed to side with, I just can't handle.

    A 5 is a book that I'll either lose sleep to finish, or deliberately slow down in my reading because I won't want it to end, the kind of book where as soon as I finish it I'm sad because I'm not with those characters anymore. I would say that a 5 is a book I'd recommend to anyone, but that's probably a 4. A 5 is the kind of book where I'm very careful about who I recommend it to, because I'll be so disappointed if someone I care about doesn't love it, too.

    1. That is a really good point about being careful to whom you would recommend a 5! It does hurt when the other person just doesn't get it.

  2. I've discovered that my rating criteria changes, based on the genre I'm reading. When I'm reading Urban Fantasy, the world building/setting and character development has to be outstanding to get a five star rating. When I'm reading a New Adult contemporary fiction, a 5 star rating means I was deeply moved by the book. And a 5 star rating for a zombie themed book means I had a heck of a wild ride :D

  3. for me * = I didn't finish it, just ignore it. ***** = OMG, you have to read this NOW! see my details, and my * are actually Eiffel Towers, with fireworks for 5:

  4. I don't give out many five star reviews but when I do it is usually based on different things depending on the hard I laughed, or if it made me want to cry..or if I can't do anything but read it and hate when it is finished...for a one star review it has to be extremely boring to me and I feel like taking a nap while reading it..and can't seem to actually finish the book.

  5. I've really enjoyed reading other's answers to this!

    For myself, a five star review is kind of special but what works for one doesn't necessarily mean it will work for another. I've only handed out two so far and one was beautifully written with an engaging plot line the other was simply a book that worked under my skin and changed me a little--even though the writing wasn't particularly poetic in any way.

    I don't think I've awarded any one stars and that may be because if I feel that uninterested in a book I tend to put it down and move on to something else. (After my inner battle, of course.)

  6. A five star for me is simply a book that I've really enjoyed. It made me smile, it made me tear up, it stuck with me, I loved the characters, and enjoyed the plot. I actually am pretty free with my 5 star reviews. I don't think that this lessens their value in any way.

    I have only ever issued one 1 star review and it was for a category romance. The hero and heroine were so annoying. I just didn't care for them, didn't care for the plot, didn't care for the book at all. Really though with over 400 reads and only one 1 star book, I'll take those odds.

  7. I feel like my 5 star rating has become harder and harder for a book to get over my years of blogging. I use to give 5 stars out more easily because I hadn't read as much back then so books more easily impressed me. Now after almost 4 years of blogging I find that I've read more books than I did 5 years ago so my 5 star ratings are harder to achieve because I expect a lot more out of books today than I did years ago.
    Great discussion!


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