It’s a rare thing, that 5-Star book. They only come around a couple of times a year, if we’re lucky. I know I’ve had years where I didn’t read any. So what makes those books so special? Is it a certain je ne sais quoi, or can you define it?
For me, personally, it’s a little of both. My favorite books, for the most part, have very little in common with each other. They’re from a variety of genres in different styles. A lot of times if you asked me what made them so special I would be at a loss for words. They just … are. But there are definitely some characteristics that a book must have in order for me to love it that much.
Note that this is my list, not a universal one.
I’m discovering that I’m a bit of a literature snob. High-quality writing is important to me. That’s not to say I can’t enjoy a book with flaws, but if I’m in any way distracted by the writing style I probably won’t give it 5 stars.
A Great Protagonist
If I’m going to really connect with a book in a 5-star way, the protagonist has to be somebody that I can relate to and like. Again, there is definitely a place for books featuring unlikable protagonists, but so far one of those has never been a favorite of mine. The characters I connect with on the deepest level are typically good people. But they have to be flawed! A perfect character is a boring character. I want to see some growth and character development, and you just can’t do that if your protagonist is already perfect!
Makes Me Feel Good
I usually prefer books with an overall optimistic view of the world. Books that make me feel like life is worth living and people are worth loving. It’s not necessarily that I need a happy ending, or that nothing bad can ever happen. On the contrary, it’s hard to have real optimism without facing some kind of challenge. But grief, suffering, they have to be something I can move past as a reader. Real life is hard enough. I read books to get away from gloom and hardships.
It can be literally anything. A cool concept, unique magic, a one-of-a-kind character, an interesting format, anything. But for me to really fall in love with a book it has to offer something I’ve never encountered before.
Not a Requirement, But Helpful
A Heart-Melting Romance
I am a hopeless romantic. While not particularly interested in reading romance novels, any time a good, convincing romance can be worked into a story I get sucked right in. Think Jane Eyre or The Night Circus. I’m a sucker for a great love story!
A Good Sense of Humor
I love when a book can make me laugh. It’s easy to do, and any book can do it, not just a comedy. Like Elizabeth Bennett, I love to laugh and will happily laugh at just about anything. There’s a kind of special joy from a book making you laugh, though. Most of my favorites have funny moments.
So what about you? Is there anything specific that makes a 5-Star book for you?