Trying to figure out an appropriate ranking system for books is not an easy task. Should I look at objective standards such as writing techniques or more subjective things such as personal topics of interest? What happens if I really like a book despite its flaws? In the end, I’ve decided to follow the Goodreads ranking system of five stars. Below, I give a little description of what I think each ranking means.
Five Stars: It was amazing
This is the top ranking that a book can receive, and it is probably one of the most subjective categories in this scheme. Novels receiving this many stars are superior in terms of writing technique, story and character development, world building, and topic, but there is room in this level for me to rank books that simply wow me even if they are flawed in some manner. Five star books are books that I will read multiple times because they stick in my head and make me ask questions. I will most definitely be recommending these types of books to others.
Examples: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman; I, Robot by Isaac Asimov; The Story of Jane Doe: A Book about Rape by Jane Doe
Four Stars: I really liked it
At this level of ranking, a book has to excite me beyond just casual enjoyment. It should offer me something new in terms of narrative that sets it apart from most other books. However, there is still something flawed about the book that makes it fall a little bit short of one of my most favourites. Maybe it relies too heavily on common tropes or features distracting writing errors. Whatever the reason, it’s still a very good book that I will probably reread and recommend.
Examples: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor; Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness by Jessica Valenti; Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan
Three Stars: I liked it
A three star book is a solidly good read. It may not be astounding or offer anything particularly innovative, but I am happy to have it in my library, and would probably recommend it to people interested in the genre. Three star books are entertaining because they tell a good story with a reasonable amount of talent even though they may not challenge me as a reader all that much.
Examples: Sandstorm by James Rollins; Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich; Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
Two Stars: It was okay
Sometimes a book leaves one feeling rather meh, and a two star rating is for this feeling of disinterest. The book is not necessarily bad (though it is probably rather weak in some aspects of writing), but it is most likely about something that I don’t particularly enjoy. I read it, I probably finished it, and it most likely didn’t leave all that much of a lasting impression on me.
Examples: All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks; Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni
One Star: I did not like it
Like the five star ranking, the one star can be a highly subjective determination. Most of the books that land here are weak pieces, both technically and creatively. However, sometimes a book might be well-written, but I simply cannot stand the subject matter or the story overall.
Examples: It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken by Seth; Shadow of the Night by Deborah Harkness
I tend to review books based on what I am personally interested in, but I am open to suggestions from other readers and authors. While I do read across a wide number of genres, I am more likely to pick up something on a subject matter than truly appeals to me. So while I will never rule out any book based on where it gets shelved in a book store, I will probably not be all that interested in things such as pure romances or plain fiction. My preferred genres include sci-fi, urban fantasy, dystopias, social justice related non-fiction, and some horror. I read both adult and young adult novels as well, and reserve a very special place on my reading list for graphic novels.
If you want to recommend something to me, you can send me an email at maggiegordon.change @ gmail.com. I am also willing to review ARCs or early release copies of books (in both paper or e-book format).