Five Stars.

I am stingy with my five-star ratings.

I’ve been tracking the books I read on Goodreads.com for about ten years now. 257 of them are in my “read” category, and of those 257, I gave ten books five stars.

When you’re rating a book and you mouse over the stars, here’s what the mouseover text says:

★ - did not like it
★★ - it was ok
★★★ - liked it
★★★★ - really liked it
★★★★★ - it was amazing

Well obviously these are very, very high standards and are not to be taken lightly. Most really great books don’t top a four-star rating for me. The vast majority don’t even break three stars, to be honest. And for me to call a book amazing, it has to blow my socks off in a particularly memorable way.

When DiAnne talked about books all the way back on day 9 of NanoPoblano, I considered a top ten list… but top ten lists shift and shimmy based on mood and the passage of time. My five-star books, on the other hand, remain five stars.

With that in mind, I’d like to share six of the books that I rated five stars on Goodreads.com. These are all fiction, although not all of my top-rated books are.

The Girl Who Drank The Moon – Kelly Barnhill

This book is the newest one on the list by a wide margin, and was also the 2017 Newbery Medal winner. The story is full of magic and moonlight and witches and one Perfectly Tiny Dragon, and I don’t want to say more because it would just spoil the story- you only get a first time reading book this magical once. This is technically written for young readers, but I enjoyed it perfectly well as an adult. The story definitely did not go where I expected it to go, and I’m in love with half the characters, especially the aforementioned Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Really now, who doesn’t want their own Perfectly Tiny Dragon companion?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (series) – Douglas Adams

The link above is to the “Ultimate” edition, which really just means “five of the novels and a short story.” I love this entire series, end to end, and I have for most of my life. I started reading this series when I was about nine years old, and I remember being absolutely delighted when new books in the series kept coming out over the following years- my first exposure with the habit of great genre titles to make you wait for the next installment.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide series has been books, radio shows, an LP, a television miniseries, still more radio shows, comic books, trading cards, and so much more. When I went to Edinburgh in 2012, the entire trip was built around the fact that the cast of the radio show was doing a live performance, with Neil Gaiman as the voice of The Guide. Going to that show was the culmination of three decades of love for the HHG franchise. The entire series is fluffy good fun and I enjoy re-reading it once every few years.

Pyramids – Terry Pratchett

While all of the Discworld novels are entertaining, the seventh book in the series is somewhat separate from the rest of them- it has no shared characters from the rest of the series, and has little to do with the story arcs from the other novels.

The book is a hilarious satire of religion and faith, set in the desert kingdom of Djelibeybi, which is basically Discworld’s answer to Egypt. The story is about a twelve-year-old Pharaoh named Pteppic (the P is silent), newly graduated from the Assassin’s Guild, as he tries to meet his responsibilities, build a pyramid for his recently deceased father, and deal with a headstrong handmaiden named Ptracy. (Again, the P is silent.) There are mad priests, sacred crocodiles, and a mathematical genius named You Bastard who happens to be a camel.

I’ve always been a little bit fascinated by Egyptian culture, pyramids, and the like, so this was just a delight to read from cover to cover.

Stranger In A Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land is another one that I like to re-read every so often. First released in 1961, it tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human being who was raised on Mars, away from any other humans. The story begins with his return to Earth, and shows him learning to deal with other people and their complicated lives for the first time. So-called “Human Nature” is alien to him, and he introduces the world to his own beliefs and values.

This book is the origin of the term grokking, or “to grok,” a word that has its own Wikipedia page and is now in the dictionary. The Library of Congress named it one of 88 “Books that Shaped America.”

It’s really, really good.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Whenever someone asks me what my favorite book is, I usually answer this one. I love it dearly and it’s another one that I re-read once every few years. Here’s what it’s about:

What if the end of the world was going to happen next Saturday, just after tea, and the major players in the end times have misplaced the antichrist? This book is the story of that eventuality. Among the very large cast of characters is Aziraphale, the answer to “what if C-3PO was a fussy angel instead of a fussy droid,” a fast-talking, fast-living demon named Crowley, witches, Witchfinders, hellhounds, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and of course the antichrist.

Good Omens was notably adapted for television last year, and that was one program I had been waiting for since the first time I read the book in the early 1990s. I was utterly convinced that it was completely unfilmable, but if modern technology can give us a convincing Balrog and an updated Howard the Duck, it can certainly show us the end of the world. It turned out to be completely delightful and I’m incredibly happy with it, but it still only captured about two-thirds of the wonderfulness that is this hilarious, amazing book.

Still Life With Woodpecker – Tom Robbins

While most of this books listed in this post are in no particular order, I chose this one for last because it is the only title that is neither science fiction nor fantasy. Still Life was written by Tom Robbins in 1980, and it concerns the love affair between a red-headed environmentalist princess and an outlaw.

The novel repeatedly addresses the question of “how to make love stay.” Although it is set in more or less the real world, it most definitely has elements of fantasy. It is at times quite funny as well.

As I’ve been writing this post, I’ve also been looking at other people’s reviews of these books on Goodreads, and this one is divisive- a great many people leaving reviews did not like Still Life With Woodpecker. Ah, well, to each their own.

What are some of your top-rated favorite books?

50/52 (and 29 of 30!)

24 thoughts on “Five Stars.

  1. Another fun post. Thanks!

    I loved everything about the Harry Potter series. They allowed me to feel like a kid again. I read all the books. I only saw one movie. I loved that she had adult level plays on words and sarcasm woven in. Did you read them?

    Eat Pray Love is a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote it after she filed for divorce and decided to travel for a year. I loved the travel stories and I loved her healing journey. The movie literally put me to sleep.

    She also wrote The Signature of All Things which I loved. It’s fiction and truthfully, slow moving. But she did such a good job with character development that I didn’t care.

    Emilie Richards wrote Iron Lace and then Rising Tides. These two books follow the life of the family matriarch through many twists and turns. She weaves Deep South segregation, civil rights and other history into the story. There are some shocking things that I didn’t see coming. Loved both!

    DaVinci Code by Dan Brown is thrilling. I was so engrossed that even the phone ringing annoyed me!

    Thanks for your wonderful posts. I appreciate you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you also, and your very thoughtful responses! I agree with you about the Harry Potter books. Most of your other titles are those I haven’t ever read, but maybe I’ll work my way around to them some time.

      Like

  2. *runs to add books to TBR list* A great list here, thank you for sharing. I’m slightly sad that I’ve yet to read any of them, especially since my sister adores many of these too – but then again, I guess I have all the fun of reading them for the first time. The Girl Who Drank The Moon especially intrigues me, so that may be one of my next reads.

    I’m incredibly guilty of adding books to my collection faster than I can read them, though! Still slowly working my way through All About Love, but it’s one of those books that need to be devoured slowly – I have been dipping into other books alongside it, oops.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of books need to be read slowly, which is why I tend to read several at a time. The Girl Who Drank The Moon is a very fast read, though, because you’ll want to see what happens next!

      And what a delight that you get to read it for the first time! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lorrie

    The only one on your list I’ve read so far is Stranger in a Strange Land. It is a good one and I’ll eventually re-read it.

    Recommendations:

    The Season of Passage by Christopher Pike is about the second manned mission to Mars.

    Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson, which is better known by its movie title, Somewhere in Time.

    The Fan by Bob Randall is about, well, a crazed fan. The book is written as a series of letters and memos.

    See You Later by Christopher Pike is about a boy who falls in love with the right girl at the wrong time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hitch hikers guide is one of my favourite books also. I watched the tv series first as a teenager with my Dad and it remains one of our most quoted books to this day. As I come into my 42nd year, he likes to remind me that I am about to discover the meaning of life……!

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Brilliant. Also interesting is that when you move states you have to re-register car and acquire different plates. Makes sense given the size of your country. Do you have a collection of plates?? Here vehicles have, until brexit been able to carry two plates. EU and GB registered.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Coming Home, Part 2 – The Stars and Rainbows Journal

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