What Makes You Rate A Book Five Stars? — Bookishness and Tea

What Makes You Rate A Book Five Stars?

While I wouldn’t call myself a very critical reader, I do know that I’ve gotten more harsh in my ratings over the last year, and it has become less common for me to rate a book 5/5 stars on Goodreads, aka the highest rating a book could receive. In a discussion from a while ago, I talked about how I have gone back and lowered my Goodreads ratings for a book because my thoughts on the book have changed.

A five star rating has become rarer and rarer from me. There are a lot of factors that contribute to my enjoyment of a book, and I wanted to talk about the most important ones to me!


The characters need to be well-developed, changing and growing with the story, and relatable. I don’t need to LIKE every one of them, but I need to understand them.


Not too fast, not too slow. I need it perfect. I’m like Goldilocks!

Writing Style

If I dislike an book’s writing, it’s going to have a considerable effect on what I think of the book.


It needs to be interesting and THERE. If I read another book with a lack of plot… ERGH.


While a lack of diversity isn’t necessarily going to CAUSE a lower rating, if a book has diversity (racial, sexual orientation, religious, gender identity…) that is well-done, it’s going to get a higher rating. If the diversity in the book is NOT well-done, it’ll bring a lower rating for sure.

Emotional Investment

If I cry over a book, I am most likely going to rate it highly, because I had to care about the story and characters to be moved that much.

Memorable and Unique Story

If I’m still thinking about the book MONTHS later, it probably deserves a high rating. If it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before (in a good way), it will get a high rating.

Excellent Wordbuilding

Regardless if it’s a contemporary or fantasy, if I don’t BELIEVE in the world, it’s not going to get a high rating. But especially in fantasy, I need to know what the world is like without info-dumping.

If it makes me think

If a book makes me contemplate important issues/matters or opens my eyes to something I didn’t see before, I’m going to like it.

Believable Dialogue

Does what the characters are saying sound like what something someone would actually say, or does it sound fake and odd?

What are the main factors that make you rate a book five stars? Are they the same as mine? Do you find yourself to be a very critical or more gentle rater? How often do you give out five star ratings?

Thanks for reading!



via What Makes You Rate A Book Five Stars? — Bookishness and Tea


3 thoughts on “What Makes You Rate A Book Five Stars? — Bookishness and Tea

  1. As time passes, I too go back and change the ratings on Goodreads — I see this as an inevitable refinement of opinion resulting from reading ever more books. Also, as the reading immersion subsides, I am better able to judge the lasting quality of a book.

    Very rarely do I increase the number of stars.

    My necessary (but not sufficient) condition for five stars is that I will want to reread the book or at least some of its parts. Life is too short to reread endlessly, if not to read ceaselessly, and occasionally there are books I shouldn’t have opened in the first place (although those form a bottom baseline of sorts, so maybe it’s good that that I did).

    I am more likely to give a non-fiction book five stars, as the well-written ones contain a wealth of information I am likely to want to refer to and mull on.

    As for fiction books, all of what you have listed above is important, but I am hardly that objective when judging a story’s merit. It is the overall impression I am left with that needs to “work” and work for me. I read recently that literary fiction is defined to be anything that isn’t genre fiction (way to go!) but that still works as a whole (and is well-written, obviously). Somewhere in there you get the definition of literary merit and lasting quality, too.

    That would be the other necessary condition for five stars: have literary merit in my eyes (which doesn’t exclude genre books!).

    Thanks for the great question and article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have had to leave a few books midway because they didn’t seem to strike a chord in me. I try to persist as long as I can but eventually give them up or just try to finish them. That mostly happens when( I’m highlighting the negative factors but it shall be understood that anything otherwise will be accepted by me) :
    1. A book deviates a lot from it’s genre like a fantasy book with so much romance that you begin to question the existence of the fantasy elements themselves.
    2. The book involves loads of descriotions, especially those of the scenery, without being categorised as a travelogue.
    3. The book involves a lot of unfair practices, stereotypes, etc without the characters opposing or even questioning them.
    4. There is too little description of the characters so that it is next to impossible to form an image in mind.
    5. It involves a lot of unfamiliar or foreign language and we are required to frequently refer to the glossary at the back in order to understand it.

    Liked by 1 person

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