And therein lies the dilemma...
When I looked back at all of the books that I've rated five starts, I realized that they don't necessarily compare to each other. There are different degrees of five star ratings I give based on various criteria I, as a reader, have created for myself:
There may be more involved, but those were the first things I started thinking of. What I realized is that a book doesn't necessarily have to have all of that for me to give it five stars, but any combination of multiple criteria could create a five star book for me.
Let's look at an example:When I think back on THE FAULT IN OUR STARS as a definite five star book because of it's literary value, social value, connectedness, story, writing, and characters - it definitely fits. Then, when I compare it to something like EMBRACE which was more of a five star because of it's story, readability, obsessiveness, right time, and enjoyability - it still fits. Would that have still been a five star book if I had read it at a different time? I'm not sure. But I've realized that so much of reading for me is related to mood and what I might need in my life at that specific point in time. That's why there are times when I reach for a romance book where I don't have to think much, and other times when I reach for a book on more serious social issues that need to be thought about in depth. Depending on my mood at the time and what else is going on in my life/head and what else I might have read recently and so many other factors, different books have different levels of coming to be five star books for me.
Does that mean I should go back and adjust ratings? No, I don't think so because, again, it's a discrete moment in time reaction to what I've read (and that would be a huge headache looking at the hundreds of books I've read!) Does it mean I should be more stingy with my five star ratings? Again, no, I don't think so. I think the rating is about my reaction to that book right after I've read it and it's related to my personal experience with that book. And isn't that all ultimately what we're looking for - having a personal experience with a book and having it become part of our shared conciousness? I think so. So, please don't judge me for my five star ratings-and don't compare them to each other! I love books and I love reading and I love that I can be enthusiastic about books and reading and have a medium through which to share it with others. Because, as a good friend of mine (and my sister classroom experiment teacher) said recently (@brianwyzlic who newly blogs at Wyz Reads - you should be following him if you're not yet!), "reading may be a solo activity, but literacy is absolutely a social activity." My ratings reflect the former and can lead to the latter.
So, my plan is to keep reading and keep using star ratings, and when those books come around that blow me away for whatever combination of reasons, that's when you'll see my five stars come up on goodreads - and that will be your indicator that that particular book affected me in some way and is worth a read. But, it does not necessarily mean that it's for the same reasons or to the same level as another five star book on my list. Thanks for letting me work though my thoughts here in writing (so helpful)!
I'd love to hear your thoughts about this! Comment away :)