Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

FIVE STAR READS (really, I’m not a finicky reader)

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If you have been traveling with me on my writer’s journey as a reader you know how much I like to read. I usually try to read 101 books during the year, and that was with my teaching schedule. Retiring has definitely created an uptick in how much more I read.

Since I started keeping track of my reading with Goodreads through their Reading Challenge I have hit my goal for the past six years. I definitely have eclectic tastes. I read picture books to middle reads to YA and adult. Not too much of a nonfiction fan as it reminds me of doing schoolwork.

Now that I am retired I have ever so much more time for reading. I read 155 books in 2022! One year I hit 165 books–2020. Lots of downtime.

I look for books through all sorts of sources: Costco’s Book Connection; reader recommendations from various social media outlets; finds from my monthly stint as a library book sale book sorter. My Reader Roundup posts are my shares with readers what I have found to be worthwhile reads. I used to post more of a variety of ratings, but lately I find myself posting only the really good reads–those five star rates.

What makes a five star read for me might be different for another reader. It’s more art than science because when I am done with a really good read I have this sense of “oooh.” Not very scientific, I know. So, here’s in a nutshell the basic hierarchy of needs for a book to be rated a five star read.

    This is the fundamental one. How enjoyable is the book to read? Does the prose/plot/theme/idea flow well? If I have to go back and reread for clarity or if I find myself skip reading (admission–I don’t read everysingleword–especially when it involves boring bits like unneeded description about clothes, calculations, or backstory I already know). If skip reading occurs I begin to lose that loving feeling and move on to:
  2. LOSTability
    I do enjoy getting so involved in a book that I have to remind myself to get up and unlock my muscles at least once during my reading time. The book is so amazing that I read for hours, although I rarely read through the night anymore, yet a really good book gets me past my bedtime of 10 pm. The story, characters, style–everything is so, so captivating that I get lost in a good book (Thanks, Jasper Fforde–which reminds me to mention:
    What a joy to find a unique read, discovering an unconventional format, appreciating an atypical character or premise. Jasper Fforde fit this need with his Thursday Next books (and most of his other books). A secret agent who literally can pop in an out of books? I was so sad when I reached the end of the series. I’m still waiting for BBC to realize Thursday Next is the next Dr. Who *hint hint* and that leads me to dwell on:
  4. PROFUNDability
    Is there a resonance once the last word is read? Do I sit and sigh and reflect once turning the cover upon the last page? Do I think about certain passages? Do I carry with me quotes to pop in my own dialogues and soliloquies down the road? Yes? Than the book has had a profound impact on me.
  5. DELIVERability
    So many times a book starts out strong, only to fizzle in the middle, or go flat at the end. This is the big one. Does the story hold all the way through the book? Yes? Then add this last point to the previous and a five star read makes the list.

Does a book have to have all of these points to become a five star read? It doesn’t happen too often that all points are earned equally. I am fairly forgiving. For instance, Lorna Doone is a longish read and the narrator does go on sometimes, yet the writing isn’t overly verbose for its 800 pages. I did skip read at times, but other times I fell into the book and got lost in the story of this Romeo/Juliet model of love and feuding. The book did resonate with me and reminds me a bit of another favorite read, The Princess Bride. So a book like Lorna Doone was slim on some points and big on others averaging out to be more a five than not a five.

Next time you come across my five star reads on my Reader Round Up I hope you have a better idea of what makes for a really good read.

What needs do you have when rating a book? Or do you rate books at all?

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4 thoughts on “FIVE STAR READS (really, I’m not a finicky reader)

  1. I used to keep a journal of everything I watched and read along with a mini-review. I’d be interested in reading it now, though it’s long lost. But I am proud that most of what I loved as a child I can still appreciate as an adult, but then I had a family that was good at pointing me in the right direction in art and lit.

  2. LOSTability. I like that term!!

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