Hosted, as ever, by the fabulous folks at The Broke and the Bookish.
1. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown.
2. Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña
3. This is Sadie by Sara O'Leary
4. Every Last Word by Tamara Stone Ireland
5. The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
6. How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
7. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
8. I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
9. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
10. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalmans
These are the last ten books I gave a five star rating to on Goodreads. I've read them between the day after Christmas and last week. Looking back at my list of what I've read, I frequently second-guess myself. How many of my five stars could be four? How many four stars might I have given five to on a different day?
This actually prompts me to consider my rating habits more carefully. Numbers 1, 3, 7, and 9 on my list are all books I'm confident in, but isn't that because they are all short? With a spare graphic novel, two picture books and what's basically an illustrated short story, the authors chose each and every word. Nothing needs to be added or taken away from these books' perfection. But otherwise--is Ball Don't Lie any better than the same author's We Were Here, which got one less star? How about Every Last Word compared to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl?
I'm also noticing that reading books aloud can color how I feel about the book--successful read-alouds take on a special shine; books that bore and confuse my students suddenly seem less remarkable.
Am I more likely to give five stars to works that seem "serious" to me, like the Oscars best picture nominees? Do I expect more from an adult work than from a YA novel? If a story's theme is close to my heart, does that inflate my score? If I read something out of my usual genres, will I score good efforts higher simply because I haven't already seen it (whatever "it" is) done repeatedly?
Should I go back and rescind my five star ratings from every book that doesn't fill me with joy when I remember reading it? (I could call this the Scorpio Races test.) Or bump up the four star books that I remember in detail?
Ratings are obviously subjective. Not only can two people disagree about any one book, but the same person can have different points of view at different points in life. There are countless debates and discussions about what makes a book a five-star book. But when all is said and done, the books I've listed above are all books I enjoyed, and that I'd recommend.