Monday, December 4, 2017

Rounding Up: When a 4.5 Star Book Makes a Bigger Impression than a 5 Star Book

See, my title is a fiendishly clever pun, because I'm "rounding up" the best books I've read (so far) this year, and I'm looking at all the 4.5 star books that have stuck with me so much that I'm tempted to just round up my rating to a 5. (Okay, "fiendishly" may be pushing it.)

But still. If you were to ask me, off the top of my head, to name some of the best books I've read this year, I KNOW I would mention Strange the Dreamer. Yet I rated other books higher. That means that either:

  • Time has dulled my memory of the slight quibbles I had with the book, but I rated it fairly at that point when it was all fresh in my mind

  • Despite whatever minor faults I found, the book was powerful enough that the good has outweighed the bad in my mind, so I should admit my mistake and rate it a 5.
On to my list of books that almost got 5 stars from me originally, and that probably would get five stars if I rated them based on my memory of them.

4.5 star reads of 2017 that have really stuck with me and probably just deserve all 5 stars:

Every Falling Star: The True Story of how I Survived and Escaped North Korea
Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America
My Life in Dog Years

Speculative Fiction
One Dark Throne
Not a Drop to Drink
Strange the Dreamer

Historical Fiction (also, is 9/11 historical? Yikes, I'm old.)
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story
Burn Baby, Burn
The War that Saved My Life

All American Boys
I Hunt Killers

This is about 5% of what I read this past year, if my math is correct (and that's a pretty big if). So I don't feel too bad about promoting those few books to my elite status.

Coming soon: various categories of five star books, and the handful of books that made me shout, "ALL the stars!"


  1. I’ve been thinking about this too. There are some 4-star books that had a bigger impact on me than my 5-star books. When I pick my favorites of the year, I’ll probably have to do an honorable mentions category.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. There have been a few times, where I was tempted to up a rating as I was responding to comments on a review. The more I talked about the book, the more I realized, as you said, it made a bigger impression on me than I originally believed it did.

  3. I find that my overall impressions of books change over time and I agree that sometimes those books you thought were your favorites don't stick out as much as books that got higher ratings. Initial impressions and lasting impressions can be different!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  4. UGH I find that this happens to me a LOT. I will rate a book 5 stars and then a year later think WHY!? Or, like you, want to add a book to my yearly favorites only to realize I rated it lower than I thought. This is why ratings are tricky! Interestingly, I felt the exact same about Not a Drop to Drink AND Strange the Dreamer, so that's funny!


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