Sunday, June 30, 2013

What Makes a Five Star Read?

'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license:

Rating books is so subjective. I admit, I am an emotional reader. I tend to rate a book based on how I felt as I read it, or when I finished. So what makes a book good? Of course, it depends on the genre, but I have found that a five star read for me tends to have most of the following characteristics:

  • Characters I can care about. 
They shouldn't be perfect, but need to be relatable in some way. I need to at least understand where they are coming from. I have to care what happens to them and really want them to reach their goals, whatever they might be.

  • Evokes strong emotion.
Laughter, fun, tears, rip-my-guts-out angst, suspense that has me biting my nails. This definitely depends on the genre, but I tend to love a book that makes me feel something strongly.

  • Unpredictable plot twists.
"I didn't see that one coming" almost always gets five stars from me. It has to make sense in the context of the story, but I like being surprised. 

  • Readability.
I don't like to be bogged down with unnecessary description or narration. Wordiness tends to turn me off, as well as a lot of jargon or unfamiliar terms. I want the story to pull me along. I can overlook some typos, but the fewer the better.

  • Unputdownable.
I stayed up too late, neglected the housework, and fed the kids pizza. For whatever reason the book held my attention so much that I read every spare moment I could manage until I finished. 

  • Something different.
There is something to be said for books that are comfortable and predictable, and it can be risky to step outside of the expected. But again, I like surprises and I usually love a book that gives me something different and that isn't like anything I've read before.

So there's a little peek into my mind. If a book has all or most of these, it generally gets five stars from me. So what's on your list? What makes a five star book for you?

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