When I give out five star ratings on Goodreads (equivalent to a 6/6 on this blog), it’s a pretty rare occasion. It’s like the Congressional Medal of Honor in the book world – though not that serious. I desist. But, it is a big deal, and after a few months of consistently reading and reviewing, I’ve noticed a trend in the 5 and 6 stars that I give out. There are two occasions that I give out these ratings, and for entirely different reasons.
1. The first would be the “This book has changed my fundamental views of life and I will not rest until everyone else has read the magnificence that is the printed word.” This is the book that when you finish, you just sit there, holding it – still open, maybe closed – in your limp fingers, completely dumbstruck. It is the book that stays with you for days, maybe even weeks, after you’ve read it. If someone even gets within ten feet of you while you read this one – watch out. You are in the “Lost to Reality” stage of reading, and any interrupter risks death in their approach.
These kinds of 5 star ratings are the ones that you just want to scream “READ THIS BOOK BECAUSE YOUR LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AFTER.” Some of these kinds of books, for me, are Harry Potter, Ender’s Game, Fahrenheit 451, and Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter.
2. The second kind of 5 star review is when the book, though maybe not life changing, just plain makes you happy. These are the books that you clutch to your chest because your heart is full of butterflies and sunshine and nothing in the world can tear you down at that point.
They might not even be the best written, or the characters rely on too many stereotypes, but there’s that magic inside the cover that is undeniable, and you can easily ignore any downfalls. It could be cheeseballs from cover to cover, with so much schmuck and sweetness that you would send the dentist screaming for mommy all the way to the asylum. This is not to say that they’re always cliche and unrealistic, because some have great characterization, fantastic plots, and mind-blowing concepts. No matter where they fall on the cheese factor, these are the books that you pick up after a bad day, because you know the characters and story are there for you, and they’ll take you to that special, safe place in Bookland. If you need a good cry, they’ll hold the tissues. A laugh? They’ll pin you down and tickle you if necessary. Some of my 5 and 6 star ratings that fall in this category are Angelfall, The Hunger Games series, The Fault in Our Stars, Left Drowning, and Stargirl.
And sometimes, type one and type two mix together, creating the greatest book of all. These are the ones you’ll keep on your shelves, pass them down to your children and grandchildren, and buy every single edition that comes out, because you have to have the new covers. For me, this is Harry Potter. I have never found another book or series to match the profound impact that Harry Potter, and JK Rowling, has had on my life.
What are some books, for you, that fall in these categories? Have you ever found The One – that special blend of timeless magic?