How I (subjectively) evaluate books

Five star books:

Only my best-of-all books come into this category. The most beloved childhood books (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, O Sítio do Picapau Amarelo); the books that started my love for science-fiction (The Robots Of Dawn, Brave New World, Star Trek: The Lost Years) and fantasy (The Mists of Avalon), the most beloved romances and poems (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Pride and Prejudice, Love in the Time of Cholera, Wuthering Heights, The Phantom of the Opera, Federico Garcia Lorca: Selected Poems) have a place in my Five Star Favorite’s list. These are books that remained with me after I finished reading them. I will be happy if one days the style of my books approach them and for me these books add a lot of fun and beauty to the world.

Four Stars and Three Star books:

These were very entertaining books, they didn’t remain in my heart as much as the five star ones, but they were still worth reading and a pleasure to read. I usually give four stars to the ones who were really entertaining and three to the ones which were fun, but not as great as the former ones. This is a bit of a gray area though, especially if I read a book more than ten years ago. It can be that there is a star too little due to the distance of time. One day I might read these books again, only to refresh my memory, if one day I have finished my To-be-read list of new books.

Two Stars books:

I do acknowledge the effort of the authors in writing these books, but they somehow failed to impress me in a positive manner. My opinion is neutral, and even if as usual, I like to read something new, I would rather not pick up the same book again. They might be someone else’s five stars, but aren’t so special in my opinion. In the end, it’s only a matter of personal taste.

One Star books:

These few books left a lasting negative impression on me and I would avoid giving them to anyone. Funnily enough, this only means that I considered them not at all my taste, but they can be someone else’s cup of tea. I remember reading Pollyanna and hating every moment of it, in my opinion, this book only taught a whole generation of unfortunate girls to be constantly smiling and lying to themselves instead of fighting for a better life, so this is one of my one star books. I also started reading Hyperion and found the book so confusing, I just couldn’t finish it, so it got one star too. I must say though that the mere fact that the book is listed and marked as one star shows that I found it worth mentioning, something like: “This is spinach and I don’t like it, but perhaps you find it great”. After all, aren’t we all subjective readers?


Author: Leticia Toraci

Artist, Painter, Writer, Indie Author in training and busy Mom

5 thoughts on “How I (subjectively) evaluate books”

  1. I’m a subjective reader, but I’m an objective reviewer. Your cup of tea comment is something I often say, though I use it as reason not to leave a bad review. Something can be wonderfully executed, yet not my cup of tea. I hated the movie Fargo, for instance, but I recognize it is a well crafted movie. Because of this I’ve never felt it fair to leave a review simply based on whether I liked it or not.


  2. Well, in this world, there is always the question if you should say your opinions out loud or not. When it comes to politics and religion, I often find them better unsaid. When it comes to books I don’t see a big problem in saying “I didn’t like it.” My taste has nothing to do with the intrinsic value of something, it only means I subjectively didn’t like the book. Some people like Hyperion and other books I don’t like, but even though I prefer to give my own opinion about something than to let my review be guided by external factors. It can be that all literary critics praise Hyperion, but I couldn’t finish it, so I’ll say it out loud. There would be no point in being influenced by other people’s opinion on this. Another important thing is if you didn’t like a book because it had a sad story and end. I mostly recognize the need for sad stories for they help us to see the injustices of the world, so I usually see it rather as something positive for a review than not.


    1. I worry just saying I didn’t like the book will negatively impact the sales. If I didn’t like it, but I can acknowledge it’s well written, I’ll try to explain what sort of reader I think would enjoy the book. My goal with reviews is to give others a good idea if the book is a good choice for them or not.


    2. I worry simply saying I didn’t like a book will negatively impact its sales. If I didn’t like a book, but I can acknowledge it is well written, I try to post a review that explains what sort of reader I think would enjoy the book and why. I find those sort of reviews help me better to tell whether I’d enjoy the book or not. I might still say in the review itself that the book wasn’t to my taste, but if it’s well written I’ll still give it a good rating.


      1. I usually don’t give reviews under two stars on self-published books because I think independent authors have it already hard enough when it comes to marketing and sales.


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