Must-Haves for a 5-Star Book

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.


Outstanding Writing

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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

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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

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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.

Something Unique

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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

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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

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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?


18 thoughts on “Must-Haves for a 5-Star Book

  1. Yes, all those. 🙂

    Another point for me is that this is a book I will want to re-read… That it is WORTHY to read again and again. (And by extension, I will get something new out it each time I read it.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good characters and good writing for sure! For me to rate a book five stars, there needs to be something about it that stays with me long after I’ve turned the last page, even if it’s not a happy book. Lina Meruane’s Seeing Red, for example, is not a happy book at all, but it was haunting in its descriptions of what illness can do to a person.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I want to echo ofmairiaantonia, for me I can tell if a book is 5 stars if I finish it and immediately say, “Wow, I want to read that again!” That is something hard to define though. Some of the best books I ever read have been the opposite (like les miserables). I finish and go, “whew, that was rough.” But most of the time the need to read it again is a good indicator. These are all great criteria though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. haha those memes. so great!
    A 5 star book for me is one that I cannot help but recommend! You know sometimes you’re like- well, there’s something in here controversial/not for everyone- so you never mention the book? a 5 star book you overlook anything that could be like that because the book has to be read by everyone!
    I also say a 5 star book is a buyable book because you’ll be lending it out a lot. (i’m a library girl so i don’t buy very many books!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I rented a few 5-stars from the library last year, and then bought them as soon as I could. I agree, a 5-star book is one I want to OWN, not borrow. And speak for yourself. YOU can lend your books out all you want, I’m keeping mine close where no one can ever get them and ruin them with their dog ears or greasy fingers or *gasp* forgetting to bring them back! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a great list! And I really do get what you mean- if I’m distracted by the writing, then it’s guaranteed not to be a 5* read for me. And yeah I have to love the protagonist. And OMG I AM SO DISTRACTED BY THOSE KITTENS!!!! Okay, I had to get that out my system, but yeah it ought to make me feel good (though for me, I will admit, some five star reads get there by being the exact opposite, though generally I like to get away from the gloom- for me if a book has a moment of happiness that gets ripped away, then I’m good about it- I just don’t like plodding sad books that never have any glimmer of hope) Anyway amazing post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! There are definitely amazing books I have read that are pretty doom and gloom, but they just aren’t my FAVORITES, you know? I love a great dark story, but when it’s too dark it’s not going to be my favorite. I guess I’m just a light-hearted kind of person!

      Liked by 1 person

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