Discussion: What Makes a “Favorite” Book?


Hello everyone! I’ve done a few discussion posts before and I loved writing them up, so I’ve decided that I will be posting a new discussion post every Sunday. I chose Sunday because this is when I coincidentally posted all my previous discussions, and because I feel like it’ll make for a great start to the week. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this new weekly feature!

Recently, I was looking through my goodreads shelf for my favorite books (located here if you’d like to see it) and I noticed that not all of the books on my shelf have 5 stars. None of them are 3 stars or below, but there are a handful of 4 stars on there. That, combined with some tweets on my twitter feed, got me thinking: what makes a book your favorite? Does it have to be that “perfect” 5 star story?

For the purpose of this discussion, I broke down my favorites shelf into 4 stars and 5 stars. Here’s what I found:

Of the books on my favorites shelf, 28 are 5 stars, and 5 or 4-4.5 stars. However, I have 63 books overall rated 5 stars, and 139 rated 4 stars. So many books got high ratings from me, but only a handful earned a spot on the coveted favorites shelf. This makes me wonder how I really rate books, and what differentiates between a 5 star book, and a 5 star favorite book.

To me, a favorite book is one that I can lose myself in and one that I can’t stop thinking about even after the last page. A book usually earns a spot on my favorites shelf one of two ways:

1) I finish the book and immediately know that I’m in love with it. There’s no denying it. The book was perfect. This is how most books end up on my shelf.

2) A book is really good, but for some reason, I don’t put it on my favorites shelf. Then, for days after reading it, I can’t stop thinking about the story or recommending it to dozens of people, or I want to reread sections over and over again. I cave a few days later and place it on my favorites shelf. You’d be surprised how often this happens; this is how it went for The Wrath and the Dawn, The Winner’s Curse and Crimson Bound, and a majority of the 4 star books on there. I mean, The Wrath and the Dawn even earned a spot on my top 10 post of 2015, and it wasn’t even on my favorites shelf at first!

A book can be 5 stars and have the complete package: stunning plot, fun characters, gorgeous writing. There’s lots of books that fit that bill: Wolf by WolfThe Darkest Minds, and The Truth About Alice, to name a few. The one thing these books all have in common? They aren’t very memorable to me. Of course, they had everything that makes a 5 star book to me, but now that I’m thinking about them, there isn’t something that I’m completely in love with about them. They’re good, but they don’t have that something *extra* so give them that push onto the favorites shelf. For example, Throne of Glass has an amazing character, Celaena Sardothien, and every time I think of that series I remember one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. But when I think about, say, The Darkest Minds, I remember liking it when I read it, but I can’t think of anything that really stood out to me.

That’s how I can have a favorite book with 4 stars. I’m willing to overlook some flaws if there’s things I love about the story, like with Crimson Bound. I didn’t like the main romance between Armand and Rachelle, but holy hell, I loved Erec! I acknowledge that it’s a 4 star book, but it’s still so good!

Many people might say that these are their “guilty pleasure” books, but I think we should stop using that term and be proud of what we like! Own it, people, because you shouldn’t be ashamed of what you read. I’ll admit it: I love the Twilight series, and the movies. If I can admit this, in a public place (and things never disappear on the internet) then you can proudly show off those “guilty pleasure” books.

I guess it all boils down to how you rate a book. Are you willing to overlook some flaws in your favorite book, or do you only pick your favorites from 5 star books? If that’s so, how do you decide what 5 star books are your favorite, or all 5 star books your favorite books? For me, a favorite book is a book I could spend forever reading and I’d never get tired of it. It might have flaws, but they pale in comparison to the stunning story at hand.

How do you feel about 4 star “favorite” books? Are all your favorite books 5 stars, or do you have some 4 star books in there too? Let me know in the comments!


36 thoughts on “Discussion: What Makes a “Favorite” Book?

  1. Blaise @ thebookboulevard says:

    This was really fascinating to me, because I do it a bit differently and I love seeing alternative points of view! So, all of my favorites are 5-star books. For me, they’re essentially interchangeable terms. I don’t rate a book based on mechanics as much as I do how much I enjoyed it. If a book has stunning characters and amazing plot, it will probably be memorable to me; a non-memorable book is, to me, something that is inherently missing that “wow” factor that drives a book onto my 5-star/favorites shelf.


  2. novelcravings says:

    I recently did a youtube video on how I rate books and discovered much the same thing. I realized that my 4 stars are more consistently based on mechanics. While many 5 stars are what you would consider a favourite. Some (not all) contain flaws in the mechanics but I couldnt put it down and I fell in love with the characters and I cant stop thinking about it! So it gets 5 stars. I probabaly should focus more on mechanics but thats not who I am. I really enjoyed this post, thank you.


    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      As long as your method works for you, then roll with it, I say! 🙂 I think I’m much more of a mechanics person when it comes to “star ratings,” but when it comes to emotions, that’s what makes a book become a favorite or not.

      Thank you so much for checking out this discussion! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. iheartfictionalpeople says:

    I love this topic! All of my favorites are actually five stars (or hearts on my blog). And usually, these books are the ones I loved everything or almost everything about, the ones I can’t get off my mind, the ones that have affected me emotionally one way or another, the ones that made me cry uncontrollably or laugh hysterically, or the ones that just have unforgettable characters and an amazing plot. If I give a book 4 stars/hearts, there is usually something I didn’t like, so it wouldn’t go on my favorites list. But that’s just me. And I love that not everyone thinks the way I do. Great discussion post!


    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      I think it’s so cool that everybody does it a little differently! Thanks for sharing your way, I think it makes a lot of sense and seems like it really works well for you 🙂

      Thank you so much for checking out this discussion + commenting! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. SarahClare says:

    I think this relates very much to how you rate a book. As in, your criteria behind it. So I very much work on the emotion and enjoyment factor first and foremost. But! The English Lit student in me still can’t resist being nit picky. And also I think you end up loving books for different reasons. I LOVE Salman Rushdie’s Midnight Children. But I also LOVE Anna and the French Kiss. I would recommend them both but for completely different reasons. really… we’re a weird bunch, us bookish types. I think we over thunk things. (And yuss, I meant ‘thunk’ not ‘think’. Lols)

    A really interesting post!!! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      Haha, I agree, us bookish people are quite weird. And I definitely agree with what you said about different types of books being your favorite, but not necessarily equal–to me, Enders Game and Throne of Glass are some of my favorite books, but they’re completely different. I try to rate my books based on emotions and the mechanics of it because I think that not everyone would feel the same way I would towards a book, so I try and make it easier for people to understand my reviews 🙂

      Thanks so much for checking out this discussion and commenting! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. hermionefowl says:

    I definitely have 4 star books that I consider favourites, but I don’t think I have any 5 star books that aren’t. For me, that something extra is what gives it five stars. A lot of the time it’s why I drop it down to only four. But I know exactly what you mean about how you know when it’s a favourite – you can’t name something specific, it’s just that little extra 🙂


  6. fiddlerblue says:

    Such an interesting post Alex! I’m a bit like you, I have favourites that I have 4 stars to and I have books rated with 5 stars that were undeniably good but not a favourite of mine. Some of my 4 star rated books are Harry Potter, The Winner’s trilogy, and Game of Thrones. All of which are my favourites, and yet I can admit that they are not perfect. The biggest telltale sign that I love a book is the number of times I re-read it. Sometimes a book is so good it got 5 stars but I know I’m done with that story. Then there are those stories I just keep going back to. In that way, all the books on my favourites shelf were stories I read more than twice. 🙂


  7. calliopethebookgoddess says:

    Ok well I rated the winners trilogy so far in the 4 star catagory, but the last book is my most anticipated 2016 release. Those books broke my heart and the emotions I felt finishing them were off the pages along with the frustration which probably contributed to not giving it a 5 star rating, though I caved and gave the winners crime a 4.8, cheeky, I know. So I think for me it has to do with emotion levels, they need to be just right, too little and it’s a 4 star, too much, also maybe a 4 star?? Idk


    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      As long as your way works for you, that’s good enough! 🙂 I gave The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime 4 stars, but I that wasn’t because I didn’t love them–oh man, those books are amazing. I think I gave them that rating because of the mechanics of the book, like the pacing, plot, characters, etc., but it doesn’t mean I love it any less than any of my other favorite books 🙂

      Thank you for checking out this discussion and commenting! ❤


  8. Melanie Noell Bernard says:

    I love this discussion post because it’s so true! I’ve never realized it, but there are quite a few books that fall into the same categories for me: 4 stars but loved, 5 stars but not favorited. For that reason, I agree with you. There has to be something spectacular, mind-boggling, memorable about the story in order for it to be a favorite. There are so many good stories out there. A lot of them are quite the same as others. However, it’s the key details, the unique parts, that take it from good to great and from great to favorite. ^.^ Lovely discussion post! I really want to do posts like these… if only I had the time. :p


    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      I agree with everything that you said! If a book is unique and I really connect with it or love something about it, then it’s a favorite book for me 🙂 I think you would be amazing at discussion posts! All of the comments you leave on my blog are so thoughtful and well thought out, so I think you’d be a natural at writing discussion posts! Let me know if you write any–I’d love to read them! 🙂

      Thanks for checking out this discussion and commenting! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Melanie Noell Bernard says:

        Aw! Thank you so much for your lovely words. Not sure I really give that much thought to what I comment. So, my discussion posts may end up looking like ‘blah blah blah opinion blah’. :p
        But I’ll definitely let you know! Maybe I’ll have some time in February/March. This month is going to be intense (grad school interviews 0.0)


  9. Sara @ freadomlibrary says:

    This is such an interesting discussion. I don’t think I pick favorites. I mean I must have at some point but I don’t do it consciously now. I don’t have a favorites shelf on Goodreads or one in real life. I guess I have to think about if I had one what books would be on there and why. Now I’m going to think about this all day haha


  10. Ishita says:

    I find it hard to rate a book if it is in a genre that I don’t particularly love but have to recognize the fact that the writer has totally done justice to that fictional world…
    It is so much more… Well .. Easier to get carried away with all the gushing… If you are reading something which you already have an affinity towards for years…so that I do unabashedly and proudly.. He he… As you said.. Own up to loving the “guilty pleasure” books instead of feeling.. Erm.. Guilty about it… :p


  11. Nikki Wang says:

    AHHH this is exactly how I choose my favorites honestly. There are so many books that get four stars from me and end up on my FAVORITES shelf and I have no idea how and then five star books that are absolutely stunning but just didn’t touch me or affect me in any way besides being a fun read for a couple of days.

    Lovely discussion!


  12. Stacee @ Adventures of a Book Junkie says:

    Hi there! I really love this topic.

    I have an “all of the stars” shelf on GR and it’s for books that I absolutely loved. The books on that shelf I am mildly obsessed with, will need all of the copies, and will be pimping out forever. You’ve definitely made me think and I’m going to have to check out my recent 4-star reviews to see what they are.

    Great post!


    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      Thank you very much! I know a lot of people have their 5 stars shelf the same as their “favorite books” shelf, but I keep them separate because although they often overlap, they don’t always.

      Thank you so much for checking out this discussion and commenting! ❤ I'm a huge fan of your blog, so it really means a lot 🙂


  13. Brian - The Guys Side says:

    Alright I loved this! The ones that work the way onto my favorites shelf have a way of making me feel everything and think about them at all times. I have a couple 3 stars on that shelf! I have such a wide variety of reading tastes but I love that I can have books of all genres on that shelf and not feel like I’m one sided with it.


    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      Yay!! I’m glad you like this post, Brian! 🙂 I read fantasy a lot, so a majority of my books on my favorite shelf are fantasy, but there are quite a few contemporary and sci-fi books on there as well! I love being able to enjoy all kinds of books 🙂

      Thank you so much for checking out this discussion and commenting!


  14. Josephine says:

    This is a topic much discussed and I agree with your side of the discussion! Sometimes a book can have all the elements that make it a 5 star book but they don’t make it into my favourites pile. For me, it’s how a novel grips me EMOTIONALLY that determines whether it is a favourite or not. And whether I remember it with clarity and if it still gives me feels months after I have read it. A huge example of this is the Throne of Glass series!


  15. Sarah Cone says:

    Oh man, this is embarrassing but I’ve honestly never even thought about it before. Of course, I’m just a reader and not a super awesome blogger so I’ve really not had the need to think about it but I can totally see how finding a rating/favorites system is integral to your work. I loved reading about your thoughts on this topic though; even as a reader it makes me think about the what’s & why’s of my favorite books, so thank you!


    • Alex @ Fiery Reads says:

      I didn’t put much thought into it before I started blogging, but now that I disect practically every book I read, I want to know why I love certain books so much. Hence this discussion post 🙂

      Thank you for checking out this post and commenting! ❤


  16. Tamara @ Tamaraniac says:

    For me, favorite books are books that I thought were GREAT (4 or 5 stars usually), have stuck with me after I first read them, and are books I would gladly read again. I usually don’t add books to my favorites shelf immediately after I read them, so if I do that’s when you know a book was truly spectacular… Anyways, great discussion! 😀


  17. Becca and Books says:

    WOW, this post. I totally understand and completely agree with everything you’re saying. I always have trouble rating books that were technically perfect in every way, but just aren’t very memorable and don’t quite make me feel that fangirlingness. AND I LOVE THE WRATH AND THE DAWN AND THE WINNER’S CURSE.


  18. Tasya says:

    This is an interesting topic! Well I do have 4/3.5 stars books in my favorites, I mean, maybe because the characters are my favorite, or there are certain aspects of the book that I really really love. For me, favorites doesn’t mean it has to be perfect! ❤


  19. คอลลาเจน says:

    Admiring the dedication you put into your blog and
    detailed information you present. It’s good to come across a blog
    every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material.
    Wonderful read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my
    Google account.


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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s