Why I rate books with 5 stars

More or less three years ago, long before I started this blog, I decided to start rating books. For that purpose, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of both the books that I had read and what I thought about the books I was to read. I have recently realised that I haven’t considered many books to be five-stars reads. So, I started to muse on why that was and on what I expect from a “perfect” book, a concept that is not universal and that is connected with readers’ expectations.

First, I love books that get me completely immersed in the story and that I can’t stop thinking about. I recognise such books when I start reflecting on them while I’m not reading, but doing my chores or am at work. Such books get me emotionally attached, but in a way that isn’t cheesy. A five-star book, for me, is not one that tries too hard to make readers cry, but one that manages to get us attached to the characters and the plot, to the extent that we can almost feel that they are real.

I also expect the characters to be complex, not only either truly perfect or truly evil. People are made of many layers, which are a consequence of their own experiences and expectations. I expect fictional characters to reflect that. Even the most unlikeable of characters or the antagonists cannot be purely and totally malicious. I love it when the personalities of the characters are gradually revealed by their actions and when they face unexpected situations that put them to the test. Continue reading