Discussion: can a book be a favourite and not a five-star read?

So I had this discussion in the back of my mind for a while and finally decided to write my thoughts down. Can a book be a favourite and not a five-star read, and can a five-star read not be a favourite?

I feel like, generally, most people rate their favourite books as five stars and go from there. The books that they loved but aren’t favourites are 4.5 or 4 stars, and books rated five stars are generally favourites. But I was thinking about this recently, and there are some books that I consider my favourite in a certain genre, and aren’t five stars. And books I’ve rated five stars that I wouldn’t necessarily consider some of my favourites.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, for example. It’s one of my favourites, for sure. I consider it my favourite YA romance or contemporary, and if someone asks if I read it, I respond with “yes, it’s one of my favourites!” BUT I rated this book as four stars because it’s a fun, cute, easy summer read. It didn’t blow me away and thus wasn’t rated five stars.

Same for Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I just read this recently, but it immediately became a favourite. I think it’ll end up being one of my favourites of the year and I loved it. I rated it 4.5 stars because it just wasn’t a five-star read (granted, 4.5 stars is pretty darn close to five stars).

And then there are some books I’ve rated as five stars that I don’t think I consider favourites. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for example. I loved it and I think it’s incredibly written and so important. It’s definitely required reading. Does it make my best-of-the-best list? Definitely, for sure. But will it make my favourites list? Probably not.

Or the Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I loved this book. It was so well written and I was completely immersed in it and flew through all 600+ pages. It was easily a five-star read. I recommend it to everyone and think it’s amazing. But do I consider it one of my favourites? No, not really.

There are some that are somewhere in the middle, such as Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I rated this book five stars because I loved everything about it. The writing was stunning, the characters were super interesting, the story was suspenseful and interesting. Will I reread it? Most likely. Do I recommend it to everyone? Yes, for sure. But do I consider it a favourite? Maybe. I think it’ll be one of my favourites of the year, but not of all time.

So, my questions for you: what are your thoughts? Are your 5/5 books (or 10/10) your favourites? Do you have any favourites that aren’t 5/5? Or do you not rate books on a scale for this very reason? Please let me know!

Thanks for reading! xx

50 thoughts on “Discussion: can a book be a favourite and not a five-star read?

  1. This was so interesting, I felt the same about Little Fires Everywhere, I gave it 5 stars but still wouldn’t class it as my favourite, I’d personally class a favourite as a book I have a particular emotional connection with rather than the quality of the book? To some extent I think it does have an impact (I probably wouldn’t have a 3 star book as my favourite) but I completely relate to what you’re saying 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is something I can relate to so much… my favorites shelf on Goodreads is probably a good mixture of 4 or 5 stars…
    And I agree, there are some books that just leave a lot of impact on me even though I end up rating them 4… And there are definitely 5 stars that I wouldn’t reread but they were perfect 😊😊😊
    Nice to see someone else thinks like me too …

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  3. I’m very much with you on this one! Sometimes a book is exactly what I’m in the mood for at a particular moment, and I think it’s a great example of what it’s genre can achieve, and so I love reading it and rate it five stars. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it stays with me long term to become a favourite.

    I also think it’s very much possible to adore something, but recognise that it’s not technically perfect. Plus, some books can be real growers in that the more time you take to think them over, the more your appreciation for them grows. In time they can become an overall favourite, even if it didn’t initially feel like a 5 star read.

    Great post! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yay! Yes, I totally agree! Sometimes a book is exactly what you need at that time which makes them five stars, even if they don’t end up being a favourite.

      And exactly! There are some books I love even though I recognize they’re not perfect, I just love them. And I totally agree about books growing on you, too. Some times I reflect on books and realize how great they are after reading them.

      Thank you! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful post! I completely relate! There are several novels that I would consider my favorites, but they are only four stars. Contrarily, there are a couple novels I’ve rated five stars, but wouldn’t consider my favorites. In the end, I determine which books are my “favorites” on a case to case basis. Haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely don’t consider a lot of my 5 star reads to be personal favorites of mine. Even if I loved the story and the way its written, sometimes it just doesn’t stick out as a book that I’ll consider a favorite.

    I guess it just depends how much of an impact or experience that book leaves me with.

    Great discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh absolutely! Five star reads and favourite books are totally mutually exclusive things. I have books that I absolutely love but are less than five stars, and so many books that are five stars that are definitely not my favourites. Generally my favourites don’t go below 4 stars, but I suppose it could happen. My favourites shelf on Goodreads is such an exclusive place, and a book has to be pretty phenomenal to make it on there (not even all the Harry Potter books are on the shelf!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes so glad you agree!!! I totally agree, I don’t think a favourite would go much past 4 stars (I think I have one I *might* consider a favourite in a specific genre that’s 3 stars). And SAME about Harry Potter lol! The series will always be my favourite, but some of the books just weren’t for me. I think only the third (my fave from the series) is on my favourites list

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  7. Yes! I can agree with you. Well some of my favorites are 6 stars (if I love I go all in) but some are 4 stars but had that something something that make me consider as favorites.

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  8. Omg someone Gets me! Sometimes I feel guilty about giving too many 5 stars and then after a few days/weeks realizing that the book I gave 5 stars to didn’t stick with me enough to become a favorite. One example of this, Autoboyography. I gave it 5 stars, I thought it was perfect and while I was reading it if I had to put it down because of work for example, I would spend the entire time wondering about what would happen next instead of focusing on my job. I thought those were the signs that it would become a favorite, but it didn’t, and it doesn’t mean I didn’t love it.
    I think we also all have different definitions of what a favorite book is. To me a favorite is a book that changed something in me and no matter how much time has passed I still feel its influence, be it in my personality or just in the way I experience fiction. I usually do rate my favorite five stars even when I realize objectively they might be more like a 4 stars, but I totally think a 4 stars book can be your favorite!
    Great post, I loved it 🙂


    1. Ahhh yay!!! So glad we understand each other haha!
      I totally get that!!! There are some books where I hesitate giving five stars, but generally if I couldn’t get a book out of my head, it deserves five stars haha but doesn’t necessarily become a favourite.

      I love your definition of a favourite book! I think it’s so amazing when I book changes you in some way.

      Thank you! 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I completely agree! My favourite books are typically four stars and up; four stars for the books that I loved, but wasn’t necessarily blown away by, and five stars for the books that were so good I can’t even find the words to describe them! 😊 great discussion post ❤️💕

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh absolutely. Favorites aren’t always rated highly, and visa-versa. The most recent example of mine I have to share is 1984 — I don’t like the book for what it says about humanity, but I thought it was excellently written and rated it very highly even though I can’t honestly say that I liked it.

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  11. Generally my favourites are 5 star reads but there’s one that really springs to mind when I think of a favourite that isn’t 5 stars which is A List of Cages by Robin Roe. I absolutely loved this book however I felt the ending was rushed which is why I felt I couldn’t give it a full 5 stars but it still is a favourite, I just found it had a slightly flaw. I think this post it very much needed because I do believe that you can have favourites without them being 5 stars, so thank you for writing this!

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  12. I believe that most of my favourites never hit 5 . I’ve even given 3 stars to some of my top favourites just because I’m more attached to them , which means I’m more critical of them . This is an awesome discussion !

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think its definitely possible for a favorite book to be rated less than 5 stars. For me, I think about the Harry Potter novels. All seven of them are favorites, but not all of them are 5-star books (I’m looking at you Chamber of Secrets!).

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  14. I’ve actually noticed myself doing this recently and thought it was odd! I agree, it seems counterintuitive to give some of your favorite books four stars and not five, or to give books five stars even though you don’t necessarily consider them your favorites, but there’s just something about doing that that feels right. Idk how to clarify it, but it really just depends on the book and the situation. So I totally get where you’re coming from!

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  15. I’ve been reflecting a lot about that lately, because I haven’t rated a book 5 stars in a while, but I have a bunch of recent 4.5 that I consider favorites. Like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I loved it so much, I really did, but I took half a star because of a certain insta-love element. But the book made me feel like I wanted to read anything Laini Taylor writes, and I will most certainly reread it.

    I usually rate on both quality and experience, so for a book to reach 5 stars I can’t have any relevant complains about it (whether it’s writing, characters, or worldbuilding related) AND it has to leave me overwhelmd and emotionally attached to the story and characters. If the first bar isn’t filled, but the second one has, that books will probably become a favorite, but with a 4.5 rating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get that!! I’ve rated a ton of books 4 or 4.5 stars, and I loved them and don’t really have reasons why they’re less than five stars other than “it didn’t really feel like one.”

      Experience is so important! If I don’t have any emotional attachment to a book, it’s fairly hard for it to get 5 stars.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! And that’s conflicting sometimes because I wonder if I’m being too picky, but I can’t think like that. If it’s a 5 star it will overwhealm me with feeling and I should have no doubt about rating it that way. If I do have doubts, it’s probably not a 5 stars.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve written about this as well. I actually added an All-Time Favorite category for this very reason. There are some books that I rated five stars that don’t make that list and a couple that I rated less that do make the list. I feel like my All-Time Favorites list is a test of which books have had a lasting impression on me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do the same! I have a Favourites category and a Best of the Best category. My favourites are sometimes four stars, but the best of the best are usually always five stars even if they’re not favourites. I totally agree about the impression thing!


  17. If the reading experience blows you away, then naturally it’s going to be a 5 stars, but I’m surprised a favourite doesn’t equal to 5 stars! I’ve seen some people, and me, go back and edit ratings for books based on how much of an impact it has made after reading it and depending on that, the rating goes lower or higher. Books don’t always have to be perfect to be a 5 star read though, just enough to let you know that either the experience was out of the world and/or its impact is long-lasting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve definitely done that too! I’ll rate a book something and then go back and rate it higher/lower after thinking about it. And I totally agree, a lot of books I’ve rated 5 stars haven’t been perfect but I love them nonetheless

      Liked by 1 person

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