Let’s Discuss: My Recent 5-star crisis – my battle with perfection, being a critical reader + the community’s romanticization of 5-star reads

If you follow me on Twitter, read some of my monthly wrap-up posts or listened to me whining on Twitter DMs (for those of you who had to undergo that torture, y’all are saints and I have absolutely no idea how you handle me), you know my struggle of not being able to find a five-star read this year!

Which is absolutely tragic, and honestly hurts my soul.

Image result for perfectionist gif

This post is going to actually talk about it, and dive into why I think it has been so difficult to find a 5-star read and just further delves into those factors.

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 10.10.17 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-02 at 10.10.17 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-02 at 10.10.17 PM

My Own Struggles With Perfection

See, I think a lot of this (by this I mean the difficulty in finding a 5-star read) is both to do with myself, and my own high standards with 5-star reads. Unlike many in the community, I have a fairly small TBR (my Goodreads TBR is less than 200 books, much of which has been removed through the Down the TBR Hole meme), and am therefore extremely selective with the books I do pick up, with a large chunk of the books I do read having extreme potential to be a 5-star read.

This becomes especially true when I pick up those reads: because as hard as I try to lower my expectations, I am one of those people who is not good at lowering their expectations, and thus gets disappointed easily.

When you group that with the fact that I have MANY perfectionistic qualities and am pretty much a perfectionist myself (which is something, to my surprise, I have just discovered and labeled. I shock even myself sometimes).

A little bit of a personal anecdote here: I love perfectionism, and it makes me happy, but it does get to the point where I can recognize it’s unhealthy. And this perfectionism mostly comes out academically. I pour HOURS into assignments, procrastinating on them to get the perfect phrase and submitting it right before the deadlines. I get genuinely annoyed at group members as I feel that they don’t have the work ethic (and to be fair to me, many of them don’t). And probably the most tragic thing? I can’t remember the last thing I was truly and only proud of.

Image result for cried into disappointed gif

^ literally a mood with this post.

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 10.10.17 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-02 at 10.10.17 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-02 at 10.10.17 PM

Critical Reading + 5-Star Novel Criteria

First off, I’m going to link to Marie’s amazing discussion about being a critical reader and asking yourself whether you’re critical enough when reading, because so much of it resonated with me and it was just a fantastic post in general!

(While we’re on the topic of Marie, I want to say that her new blog is gorgeous, and if you aren’t already following her, you NEED to check her out. I love her and her blog so much ❤️).

When you make the transition from reader to blogger/booktuber/bookstagrammer/book tweeter, Goodreaders etc., you will definitely undergo through a process where you become far more critical with what how you read and review books.

All the little things that completely missed your attention are things you have to pay more attention to, such as the more technical aspects of novels, e.g writing, characterisation, and development, quality of plot, etc so you can provide comments about those parts.

I felt, and still do feel, that if I  constantly gave books 5 stars, my opinion will lose its trustworthiness and credibility since I did not have more mixed ratings.

I thought that lower ratings = better critical reader, which I should have realised earlier that it is really not the case at all!

So, while for others, this change came in the form of having lower average ratings as a whole, but personally, it manifested in me becoming a lot more selective with what I consider a 5-star read.

I may do a whole separate post on critical reading and how it has affected me and such, because WOW I feel myself going into a tangent?

(Which, by the way, we really don’t want to happen.)

I mean, really.

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 10.10.17 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-02 at 10.10.17 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-02 at 10.10.17 PM

 

The Romanticization of the 5-Star Read in the Community

I think a lot of my high expectations has to do with how many of the community views (and in my opinion) romanticizes 5-star reads as this perfect book that they are absolutely obsessed with.

Before being active in the community, I would rate any book that I loved as a five-star read when it was more so of a (maybe?) four-star read.

(Quick) disclaimer: I just want to make it clear that I’m not trying to blame the community for this at all. But this is something I do want to talk about, and I apologize in advance if I hurt any one’s feelings.

But as many of you know, people will believe things if they are told a certain message again and again.

And in this case, it manifests in how everyone gushes about you know, that new, amazing, 5-star book that they just found and how they are obsessed and how it is perfection, you know, the usual.  They don’t mention any flaws about these 5-star novels, so the thinking that a 5-star novel has to be perfect and amazing has been ingrained into my head.

When coupled with my own standards of perfection, this makes my personal standards for 5-star reads absolutely skyrocket and makes reads unlikely to hit that 5-star label, which effectively sets it up for failure, almost.

Honestly? It really sucks. Because ultimately I (like all of us) read for enjoyment and because we just love reading. And since I haven’t found a new favorite in a while, it just makes me really sad because I genuinely want to find a new favorite book.

I want to obsess over that new book that I just discovered I loved. I want to scream about it with all of you guys on Twitter (if you haven’t followed me on Twitter, yet, well, here’s your chance 😉). And I’m just super sad that I haven’t had the opportunity to yet!

But hopefully, that magical unicorn of a novel will come. Soon!

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 8.23.55 PM

What are your thoughts on my crisis? Have you ever felt anything similar or related in any sort of way? What was your last 5-star read, and what books would you recommend that I read in the hopes of having it be a 5-star?

Also, for all you teen book bloggers/booktubers/instagrammers/tweeters/Goodreaders etc! Tweet me here on this Tweet if you want to be included in a post about teen bookish influencers (?) I’m putting up in May.

(I really need more people, so please Tweet me. I will love you forever. I already do though.)

Screen Shot 2018-09-09 at 10.59.32 AM

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss: My Recent 5-star crisis – my battle with perfection, being a critical reader + the community’s romanticization of 5-star reads

  1. Ahh Taasia! I really, really hope you find a five-star novel soon. To be honest, I am definitely not a perfectionist (I feel like the opposite haha!) I definitely understand the pressure for five-star books to be PERFECT when they’re not. I rate a book five stars if I absolutely love them. Even if there are a million flaws, if I completely adore a story, I don’t care?? However, this year I am becoming more critical with my reading so even if I LOVE a story, and there are flaws, I’d probably give it it 4.5. Obviously if a book has flaws then it’s going to directly affect my enjoyment of the book. Its only if the flaws are minor and don’t hinder how much I love the book? DOES THIS MAKE SENSE.
    It actually takes me quite a while to find five-star books! I normally re-read books which makes it seem like I read quite a few five-star books.
    All of the NEW reads I gave a five star this year are; Muse of Nightmares (strange the dreamer trilogy is AMAZING and i think you’d really love it!) An Ember in the ashes, the boy who steals houses, an aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe (if you haven’t read this, TAASIA PLS DOOO!! it’s so good)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ilsa, I found a 5-star novel literally a few days after scheduling this post, which I am so so happy about! What you’re saying about differentiating 4.5 and 5 star reads make so much sense to me, because that’s exactly how my brain works! It’s why I have quite a few 4.25 or 4.5 star reads, imo. With my recent 5 star read for example, my only gripe with it was that it took a while for the plot to start moving, which I’d normally take into account, but I kinda had tgat overruled since I had such a strong emotional response to said book.
      It literally takes me so long to find 5-star books, honestly. Like, some people are coming away with at least 2-3 a month and I’m here like who are you, what magic do you have access to, teach me your secrets plz 😦

      Ahh I’m glad to hear you have so many great 5-star reads! I read and 2-starred Strange the Dreamer, so I’m 95% sure I won’t be picking up Muse of Nightmares, sadly. AN EMBER IN THE ASHES IS SO GOOD SKSKSKSK AND I’M SO GLAD YOU LOVED IT. I love Cait’s personality and blog and I’ve heard such amazing things about her books, so I’m glad you loved them!

      I .. may be one of three people that haven’t read Aristotle & Dante yet? *covers face* But I’ll bump it up my TBR, especially since everyone stans this book! And I heard the audio is narrated by Lin-Manuel, so I’m super intrigued!

      Happy reading and have a lovely day, love ❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand this frustration so well! But I really do believe that you will find a new favourite soon. Sometimes you just hit these stretches where you don’t feel like anything you’re reading stands out, but even those stretches end.
    And going off something you said in your post, it’s absolutely cool to rate something 5 stars just for personal enjoyment even if it does have flaws. That doesn’t mean that you’re glossing over anything, it just means that it really hit the spot for you which is ab important criterion imho.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Fran! I actually did find a 5-star read shortly after scheduling this post, which I’m beyond THRILLED with. I defo get you on those stretches, because I had multiple similar experiences.

      I absolutely agree with your point about 5-star reads hitting the spot for you, because it’s so true! Everything is gonna have flaws so it’s unfair if we expect 5-stars to be perfect, which is something I’m trying to work on, tbh.

      Happiest of reading and have an amazing day, love ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I RELATE TO THIS SO MUCH. Last year i read 100+ books and only gave 3 books a full 5 stars. as a picky reader it sucks sometimes when so much of what i read ends up feeling mediocre to me, but it makes those 5 star books all the more amazing because they *earned* that rating yknow? 😊 wonderful post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Omg I love this post so much! I went through this exact same thing last year, so I honestly relate to how you’re feeling so so much. I’m such a perfectionist (but am also lazy af whoops, which leads me to just avoid doing anything?? 🙃), so when I started reviewing books last year, I basically stopped giving out 5-star ratings?? I mean, I definitely could have been more selective with what I was reading, but I read 52 books and only gave out three of four 5 stars, which was a MASSIVE decrease from previous years. In my mind, 5/5 stars was 100%, which meant a book had to have NO mistakes for me to give it 5 stars. And, once I started actively reading critically, I found out I was quite good at it, and so I ended up finding at least one thing I didn’t like about every book I read. So the first half of 2018 for me was just this massive crisis where the previous year I’d been in a year-long reading slump, and now I wasn’t giving anything 5 stars, and so I even like reading??? Which completely freaked me out because I was just starting to feel like I was apart of the bookish community, and now I’m not even sure that I like books?? Yeah, ummm, on top of being a massive perfectionist, I’m also dramatic af 😆 But then I read a book that I genuinely loved with all of my heart. And I felt like I couldn’t NOT give it 5 stars…even though I knew that there were aspects of it that might not be for everyone, or that could’ve been done better. I ended up just rating it 5 stars and not reviewing it, because I didn’t think my 5-star review would be valid if it had any criticisms of the book in it. And I struggled with this as the year went on, and I found more (though not many) books that I felt were worthy of 5 stars. But those were still few and far between, and most of my reads ended up being 3.5-4 star books. It got to the point where I literally had to reread two of my all time favourite series because I was just feeling so disheartened by the lack of 5-star books I was reading and wanted that feeling of total obsession over a book back. It’s not until literally this month, as I’ve been working on a 5-star review (which I still haven’t posted cuz I suck, lmao), that I’ve realized that I’m allowed to rate books whatever the fuck I want to, and if I think a book deserves 5 stars even if it has problems, I’ll give it 5 stars. It was hard to accept at first, still, because of my perfectionist tendencies (which is why I still haven’t finished that review), but as I’m writing this review, I’m realizing slowly that I can still be proud of the review I write, and see my review as being as perfect as I can possible make it, without the book having to be perfect. Idk if any of this made sense, and I’m sorry for the massive essay of a comment, but this post just really resonated with me. Also also also, I am a teen with a blog and a goodreads, but because I am my generation’s greatest disappointment, I don’t have Twitter? So, whilst I’d be happy to participate in this project of yours, I guess I’m just wondering if I’m going to need to create a Twitter to do so? Which I’m 100% willing to do btw, cuz I really should expand to new social media, rather than staying in my little bubble of the community. But idk how long it’ll take me to set up Twitter cuz I suck with technology, and I don’t want to screw up your whole schedule with your project and I’m sorry I’m just rambling now whoops 😬 I’ll just create a Twitter 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was such a lovely comment, Laura! Being a lazy perfectionist is a wholeass mood ngl because it’s literally ME. yes i have a problem lmao 😂
      I read nearly 120 books last year but i only had 5 five-star novels, and I struggled with those standards of perfectionism. I find that writing 5-star reviews are so much harder than any other rating, because it’s so difficult to express your love for that book, yk? That total state of obsession with a book is truly a state of euphoria, and it makes me so happy to experience. We stan and preach that message on being able to rate books how you want, and rate it 5 stars if you think it deserves it. Please don’t worry about this not making sense, because it defo made sense for me! I already got your sign-up via Twitter, but you don’t need Twitter to sign up! And don’t worry about screwing up my schedule, it really isn’t a concern 😊 Happy reading 💗💗

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes yes yes, I can never write 5-star reviews. Like, how do I articulate my love for this book without devolving into an utter mess?? How does one describe what obsession feels like in a review??? I end up just overusing the word obsession and keyboard smashing, but that’s not exactly a review, whoops. And yesss ratings have and always will be a very personal thing, so at this point I’m just rating books what I think they deserve and giving no shits about whether or not people think my feelings on a book justify that rating. Like, your definition of a 4 star book is different to mine Karen, now fuck off and stop telling me how to rate my books, thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 5 star reviews are so hard, like, I felt my 5 star review for Darius the Great Is Not Okay wasn’t that great because I was so close to just straightup keyboard smashing. I’m seeing more and more people move away from the rating system, which is interesting to see. I’m trying to just rate books on a mix of how I feel and the critical aspects. And omg why are people policing your rating systems? Get a life smh, leave people alone. (Also the mention of Karen reminds me of that Karen vine, which cracks me up every time ngl).

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I can totally relate to this. When I joined the book blogging community, I definitely noticed that I starting morphing into a far more critical reader, making it difficult to find more books I really enjoyed. You’re not alone!!
    In attempts to help you find a 5-star-worthy-read, allow me to list some of my personal favourite titles 😂:
    -Sadie by Courtney Summers
    -Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (it hasn’t come out yet, but when it does you should totally check it out!!)
    -Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
    -To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
    -Girl Made of Stars by Ashley H. Blake
    -Geekerella by Ashley Poston
    -Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
    -Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
    -The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
    Chances are you’ve read some of those (since they’re all pretty well-known books), but hopefully that list helps!
    Anyways, great post! It was super thoughtful, honest, and relatable ☺❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Octavia! It constantly baffles me that so many people relate, and I hope you find a new 5 star read soon!
      I’ve read most of the books here (with the exception of To Kill A Kingdom and Orphan Train) and have given them all 4+ stars (mostly 4.5 stars). I did 5 star Ava Lavender quite some years ago, it was super good though!
      Thank you for your recommendations and for being so nice, this is really too sweet 💖 Happiest of reading!

      Like

  6. I love this post because i’ve been meaning to write a similar one as well since i’ve been struggling with rating books 5 stars too. Tbh, what it comes down to for me and what separates a 4 or 4.5 stars book from a 5 stars book is how it made me feel, not any tangible or critical part of it, so the 5 star is honestly more tied down to me as a reader than as a reviewer. I hope this makes some…kind of sense? Haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh, thank you so much, Fadwa! I can’t wait to read your take on it because it’s going to be great! I really agree with your differentation of 4.5 star and 5 star reads, and I’m trying to be less harsh about my 5 stars. What you’re saying actually makes a lot of sense, because it’s how I think. Hope you’re having a great day ❤

      Like

  7. I feel like your crisis is pretty common, Taasia, though I can’t really relate, lol. I feel like I’ve been making better choices for the past year and picking up books that I genuinely feel like I’ll love – hence the higher ratings. I am even purposedly picking up mediocre ones, just so I can have an opportunity to rant, lol. I haven’t had many disappointments this year so far, because I’ve been very aware on what am I getting myself into.
    I also agree that when it comes to 5-star reads, we expect it to not have any flaws, because that’s what the community raves about. But I don’t really think that’s true. I’ve definitely found issues in a lot of my 5-star reads, especially recently, as I’ve been re-reading some. For example: I re-read Where She Went, by Gayle Forman, which is one of my favorite books of all times and I gave it 5 stars, yet again. However, in this re-read, I was able to identify a lot of issues, such as sexist remarks and problematic elements. So, even though it was a 5 star book for me, I do acknowledge it is not perfect.
    To me, 5-stars are reads that you *feel* more than *know*. If a book was able to give me a lot of different emotions and completely wrap me in the story, even if not objectively a good book, I’ll still give it 5 stars. I think most of the books in my “favorites” shelf are not books that I consider to be perfect and untouchable, but I felt so much with them, that they ended up there nonetheless.
    Anyway! This is just something to think about. I do hope you find a 5-star read soon, and I’m sure it will be a super rewarding moment.
    (As for your bookish influencer list, I saw it on Twitter but wasn’t sure if I could take part on it, since I’m already 18? Like is 18 a teenager? Because I certainly feel like one, lol, but WHO KNOWS. Perhaps I’m the wrong one who sould be adulting already, hahah. But if it counts, I’d love to take part on it!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so good to hear! I’ve been generally picking up books I think I’ll at the very least, enjoy, so while my overall ratings are good, it’s hard to find that 5 star read, you know? Your point about 5-star reads are so valid, and I’m trying not to build up potential 5 star reads to my ridiculous standards of perfections, and to rate it high if I had a lot of feelings towards it and if I super enjoyed it. I did find a 5 star, which I’m so happy about!
      I’d LOVE to add you into that teen influencer list! Since I’m behind on scheduling and writing, it might be published in June, but I’m going to do my best to publish it ASAP! Hope you’re having a lovely day ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you so, SO much for sharing my post, I’m so happy you enjoyed it! ❤
    Ever since I started book blogging, I found myself being a little more critical of books overall, yet at the same time, I've been finding more and more of books I absolutely love and somehow, strengtening my taste in certain genres, certain tropes and certain elements in books, which makes me pick up and focus on a lot of books I really have a great time with.That being said it's not a foolproof method at all. I also found myself thinking, "what if I only give positive ratings, won't that affect the way people see me and my reviews and won't they trust me afterwards if I'm always too nice or something?", this is a thought I'm constantly having, too, so I can relate to that haha. I hope you'll find more and more 5-stars reads as the year goes on, hopefully, fingers crossed! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your post was an absolute pleasure to read and so important that I absolutely HAD to include it here! I honestly heavily relate to your evolution in reading after beginning blogging, because while book blogging helped me to better identify what I enjoy reading (and therefore help me be more selective with what I choose to read), I feel that my credibility goes down if I rate books too high all the time. I hope both of us will find all the amazing 5 star reads as the year goes on. Happiest of reading, Marie 💘

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I definitely relate to this struggle! At this point I just go with gut feeling. I’ve definitely given flawed books or books that I didn’t love everything about them 5 stars. For example, i gave A Very Large Expanse of Sea 5 stars even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the romance, because of how captivated I was and how emotional it made me. In general, if I a book causes emotions I will give it a higher rating even if it’s flawed because emotions stick with me. I can list several books of the top of my head that have emotionally gutted me, or even just made me so ridiculously happy, or shocked me, so that they merited 5 stars.
    I hope that you find your perfect books sometime soon! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I do agree with how you mostly rate books that have an emotional impact on you 5 stars, it’s the same with me! Books that make me laugh excessively, cry or just really stick with me are the ones that I rate 5, I’m trying to be a lot less harsh about giving out 5 stars. I’m really interested in reading A Very Large Expanse of Sea, so I’m glad you loved it! Happy reading!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s