The 5 Steps to a 5-Star Book


It’s okay to be a picky reader. Not all books are created equal, and everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a 5-star read.

Though I don’t hand out 5-star book reviews very often, there are certain characteristics that will almost certainly boost my rating of a book.

Back in July, I published a post on my 5 biggest bookish pet peeves- These 5 Things Will Definitely Make Me Put Down a Book. Today, to change it up a little, I’m going to do exactly the opposite.

Without further ado, here are 5 things that will make me love a book.

1. The main character has interesting and unique hobbies- bonus points if they share one of mine.

I hate YA contemporaries in which the MC has no hobbies or personality traits apart from going to wild teenage parties and fulfilling whatever unnecessary romantic subplot the author has in mind. If, on the other hand, the MC has really interesting hobbies and a unique personality, my opinion of the book will undoubtably be boosted.

An example of this? Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott (We’re reaching deep into the archives for the FIRST book review I ever posted…) One of the main characters in this book is interested in computer science and working on publishing an app. Fun fact: I’m interested in computer science and I have published an app. This automatically made me love the book more than I ordinarily would, because when do you ever see that kind of hobby in a YA romance?

2. Plot twists, plot twists, plot twists!

I LOVE PLOT TWISTS. (If you haven’t discerned that already, well… I don’t know what to say).

One of the timeless debates of book Internet is the question of whether the characterization or the plot is more important to the quality of a novel. If I’m being honest with myself, I value plot over characters most of the time. I’ve heard the argument that if you don’t care about the characters, you won’t care enough to keep reading regardless of how brilliant the plot is. But I disagree: you could have the best characters ever, but if they just sit around and nothing happens, there’s no point to the book.

And one of my favorite parts of reading is being thrown off by plot twists. I can’t explain why I love them so much, but it’s for this reason that I’m so drawn to mysteries.

3. Witty sense of humor

Humor… it’s a tricky thing. I’d shamelessly admit that I think my blog is funny, but other people don’t seem to think so… in fact I’ve been told often that I don’t have a sense of humor. But I know I do. It’s just hard to describe what it is.

I tend to like witty/sarcastic/dry humor, and of course, if I think a book is sufficiently funny, I’m going to like it a lot more.

Example: I’m not yet finished it at the moment, but My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand is definitely one of the funniest books I have read this year.

4. The book teaches me something

I have recently been getting into nonfiction- I really need recommendations!- and I love reading interesting books that give me material to accost people with “did you know?”s in the future.

This doesn’t solely apply to nonfiction, though; much of what I know about history is from reading historical fiction, which is one of the reasons it’s my favorite genre.

Here are some of the most informative and interesting books I have read: A Night to Remember by Walter Lord, Quiet by Susan Cain, and Bomb by Steve Sheinkin.

5. I get that absorbed feeling

This is a very subjective category, but it’s such a defining factor in my enjoyment of a book that I have to include it on this list. I’m not sure if this phenomenon has anything to do with the book I’m reading or if it’s just dependent on my mood at the time, but often when I’m reading a great book, I will become completely absorbed in the book and unable to put it down. To pick it up again feels like stepping into a warm shower or crawling underneath the covers when you’ve been up for 20 hours straight.

Sometimes, I’ll be so absorbed that I won’t hear people trying to talk to me. It’s similar to the idea of “flow state” in productive work.

I don’t get this feeling for every book I read, but the ones for which I do almost always get 4.5-5 stars.

That’s all for today’s post! Do you agree with this list? What makes you give a book 5 stars?

14 comments on “The 5 Steps to a 5-Star Book”

  1. I’m so horrible at being critical when it comes to books, but this is a good list of things to think about! Maybe I’ll use this from now on. By the way, I think your pretty funny. I for one, am a person who is terrible at actually being funny and not being the one person laughing at my jokes haha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For me one of the important things is character development, particularly when I read a big book or a series, if the writer has put people in a story that has gripped my attention I want some growth, to show how the events have changed them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You should check out the book, “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy. It is FULL of plot twists and it’s a mystery. The book is placed during The French Revolution. I’m reading it for school rn and the beginning is pretty boring but then it gets good. Your blog is amazing!! So talented!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This was such a fun post! I love seeing how you break this down. I think I need character driven books, but making me laugh and having plot twists are definitely really important! Thanks for sharing!🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on five-star reads. I can’t agree more about the whole “absorbed feeling” thing, at times that makes or breaks a book for me. 🙂
    Also, I couldn’t let your mention of My Lady Jane pass without notice, I loved that book! (I will say though that the next two books of the series disappointed me terribly.)

    Liked by 1 person

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