Recipe For A 5 Star Read // what makes a book a five star read???

Do you know what’s absolutely wild? We hit 200 followers yesterday. Two-zero-zero. Holy guacamole. It’s still insane to think there are people out there, around the entire freaking globe, that read the sleep deprived words that I furiously type into the keyboard at odd hours of the night. There are actual real live people that read my screeching and bad metaphors and babbling about expectations being the death of me and sprinkle covered donuts. I can’t even begin to tell y’all how thankful I am for not only finding this community, but for each and everyone of you that stop by. Seriously, all you lovely people make my day with your nice comments every single day. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Don’t mind me, I’m just going to celebrate this little accomplishment with a bucketful of black raspberry chip ice cream.

I was looking back at some of my old posts, generally feeling sappy and reminiscing and realized I never explained how I rate books. Whoops. I went into this post hoping to do just that, but then got distracted by being hungry and it sort of evolved into Recipe For A 5 Star Read // what makes a book a full five star read???

Before we completely dive into the whole recipe, I want to talk about 5 star reads as a generality for a hot second. I always struggle to balance quality of the book itself vs my enjoyment of the book when rating. Because there are books out there that might be good books, but just not my cup of tea. But there can also be books that have some more technical flaws, but fill the book-shaped hole in my heart with pure and unbridled joy (or pain! depending on what type of book it is). As a reviewer, I always struggle to balance those two components in a numeric rating. I actually talk a bit about my internal conflict and my general tendency to waffle with ratings in a discussion about Changing Ratings that you can find here!

Out of all the ratings that I do end up creating, I think that 5 star reads are the most feeling based. That’s largely why there are so few of them. I mean, let’s take 2020 reading as an example. I read a grand totally of 289 books last year and only 18 of them were 5 star reads. If I math correctly, that is around 6%. And that’s not even including the 4.5 reads that I rounded up for the sake of Goodreads.

In 2021, the trend of few 5 star ratings holds true as well. I use a super nifty graphic template and the 4.5 stars and 5 stars are separated and found that out of the 46 books I’ve read to date, only 3 books have been true 5 star reads. Again, if I math correctly that is around 7%. And that’s not to mention the fact that one is a reread from last year.

Ok, we are officially done mathing for today. I hope I didn’t lose y’all with all the numbers and percentages and whatnot. The point of all it off those numbers is 5 star ratings are rare for me. And that begs the question: What makes the cut?

Enter my recipe.

I do not want to read a couple hundred pages reading about characters that I don’t like. 

Whiny? Meddler? Constantly laments about feeling sorry for themselves? Why-don’t-they-like-me? Sorry, but those are all no goes. 

With a mediocre plot, the characters could sell me on the book. But even if the plot is a godsend, if I constantly want to chuck baseballs at the main character I’m not going to end up like the book. Characters are key to everything, thus the largest ingredient in the recipe.  

The biggest thing here is humor. I don’t need to be rolling on the floor cackling like a deranged witch or anything, but I want some wit. Characters with next level humor are far more entertaining by those other humorless cardboard characters. I personally am a big fan of sarcasm.

I also pay attention to the way in which other characters are described. If a character is compared to the shining face of the moon, the book is an immediate no go. Especially in the first person, how the main character describes others is so telling and can make or break a book for me. When it comes to deciding to continue reading a book or not, I often check back for red flags like these.

I prefer multiple pov, but in many books it is like playing with fire. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the voice of all the characters sound the same. If it is first person especially, I should be able to tell the difference in the way the characters speak, describe things, and act in general. I want them to have their unique speaking mannerisms, catchphrases, and humor, something that makes that character uniquely that character

The absolute best feeling when you read a book is when you did not see the ~thing~ coming and you have to just sit and stare at the wall for 15 minutes because wow. wow. wow. Did that just happen? This is why I have trust issues.  

That being said, there is definitely a happy medium when it comes to predictability (which is why there are only 4 tablespoons, and not straight up bucketfuls). love being shocked, but I don’t want to be shocked to the point where it doesn’t make sense. Don’t shock me just for the sake of shocking me. There’s got to be those breadcrumbs, that foreshadowing, that groundwork done that makes the payoff worth it. 

The Goldilocks approved happy-medium is when I can see about 5% of the picture. I think I know what’s going to happen, but I don’t really know. It keeps me actively guessing and reading throughout the book and causes no disappointment of an opportunity not seized. Most recently, Namesake by Adrienne Young wielded that 5% predictability like a knife that then proceeded to gut me on the spot because oh my god that end of act 1 reveal came to PLAY.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, predictability isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t destroy the enjoyment of a book completely. If I like the other elements of the book enough, I’m willing to overlook some of that predictability because my other enjoyment trumps it. Predictability does not make a book inheritably bad, but it definitely misses out of the extra credit shock factor.

Sometimes the only difference between a 4 and a 5 star book is just a gut reaction. Do I really feel the book? I honestly don’t know how else to explain it. It’s kind of a if you know, you know sort of situation. If it has that zazz, then it gets the 5 star rating. If it is everything you could possibility, minus the zazz, then it’s a solid 4.5.

Color me a chef, because that was most certainly a recipe made up of 5 star perfection.

What better way to complete my recipe post, then with out favorite rat friend Remy??

What makes a 5 star book for you? What components do you look for? Do you agree with any of my ingredients? Do you have your own secret ingredient? Do you like to cook?


31 thoughts on “Recipe For A 5 Star Read // what makes a book a five star read???

  1. April, I LOVED reading this post! Also congrats on hitting 200 followers, you totally deserve it😊 As for this post, I completely relate to most of the points…ahem, ingredients you mentioned.
    And what a coincidence, I have a post with almost the same topic sitting in my drafts at the moment, which I hope to finish writing soon. Anyway, lovely post, keep writing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahhh thank you so much Rachel!! it makes me so happy to hear you say that!! eee thanks again (for the congrats) (idk just a collective thanks lol 🤗). hehe seems like we share a similar reviewing recipe! ayyy great minds think alike! happy writing to you as well : )


  2. Great post!! Congrats on 200 followers🎊🎉🎉 I agree, characters are what makes the story up for me, with the writing style coming up on a close second. Love that ratatouille gif!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on 200 followers!!
    I agree with so many the things you talk about!
    1) Yesss, I hate characters who spend the whole book complaining, especially if they’re all whiny because no one likes them. Honestly, when that happens, all I can think is “well, no wonder no one likes you, all you do is complain!”
    2) Humour is such a big thing for me too, I absolutely LOVE characters who are witty and sarcastic *insert Nikolai from the Grisha trilogy here*
    3) You’re absolutely right- sometimes you just *know* that that book is a 5-star and other times you can’t pinpoint what makes a 4 instead of a 5. It’s just a *feeling*
    Loved this post so much!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much Susana!!
      1. haha EXACTLY! like the reason you’re having issues is because your annoying. let’s whine about it less and actually do something please and thank you!
      2. yesss if the characters are as stale as a dried cricket, then the book feels bland. HA yessss Nikolai’s wit is truly unparalleled
      3. haha yess i’m glad someone else understands what i was talking about there lol
      thank you so much!! happy reading : )

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congrats on 200!!! I’m almost there myself, that’s an awesome accomplishment! Also, I’ve never heard you ramble about sprinkle covered donuts and I don’t know if I missed something or what haha.
    Also yes I definitely agree with the ‘feeling’.


    1. thank you so much! ayyyy (it’s been a hot minute since you said this (because time has lost all meaning)) so i don’t know if you’ve hit it yet BUT HERES TO HOPING YOU DO!!! 118% deserve it!!
      well it’s less of a ramble per say, but more of a go to ice breaker fact. someone asks, april tell me a fun fact and it will be my favorite type of donut is chocolate with sprinkles. haha didn’t miss anything, just me being dramatic as per usual!
      yesss the ~feeling~ is everything when it comes to a 5 star read

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on 200 followers! I completely agree with the feeling, I have read so many books that were really close to being five star reads, but that didn’t have the feeling. Likable and interesting characters are the biggest part of what makes a five star read for me, I can’t stand books with boring and unlikable characters. This is a great post, the recipe idea was really fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Omg congrats on 200 followers April!! That’s such a huge accomplishment 🤩

    And I completely agree with all of your points here!! Characters will always be the make or break of a book for me — I have to feel invested in the people who are driving the story, or else I’ll just be bored 😂 And yes to that *feeling*! I don’t know how to explain what it is but there’s definitely *something* that makes a book just *click* and boosts my rating to 5 stars.

    I loved reading this list April!! Your posts are always so entertaining 😆


  7. congrats on 200, april! i loved reading this — as i keep reading & reviewing, i’ve definitely noticed a trend (and almost want to keep a tracker/spreadsheet) of what makes a book a 5 star read for me! i found this post so fascinating !


  8. This is a great post! I love the idea. I agree with you about needing all of those things to make it a 5 star read too. Congrats on 200 followers, I’m a new follower hi! 🙂


  9. loved reading this post, April!! and congrats on 200 followers, you deserve this and so many more ☺️ haha i really loved how you used the format of an actual recipe to discuss the elements of a 5-star read! i agree that ~that feeling~ is definitely a crucial ingredient for a 5-star book, it’s unexplainable but there’s definitely *something* that bumps a book up from a 4 or 4.5-star rating to 5-stars haha

    Liked by 1 person

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