I thought it might be helpful to list my top ten favorite books.
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
2. The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
3. The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
4. Blankets (Craig Thompson)
5. The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
7. The Giver (Lois Lowry)
8. Animal Farm (George Orwell)
9. The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)
10. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
Even as I step away from this list, I am unhappy. I'm fairly positive that 1-8 are right, but I'm not sure about 9 and 10. I absolutely love The Graveyard Book but I'm not sure it's "favorite book material". On the other hand, The Book Thief is "favorite book material"; however, I don't know if I actually love it enough to be my number 10. Other books that might also be 9 and 10 are The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), Stitches (David Small), One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez), The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath) and The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman). Making lists is hard.
All of these books I've been talking about are definitive 5/5 ratings. My rules for doing so:
1. If I cry at any point during the book,
2. or feel any other emotion very strongly (usually it's just happiness or sadness),
3. or the work inspires me to write something,
4. or I wish very badly that the book hadn't ended so that I could stay there forever,
5. or I was still thinking about the book days later,
6. or the book has "extreme literary merit"
7. or the book is just really, really enjoyable.
So, for example, Harry Potter and The Time Traveler's Wife fulfill 1, 2, 4 and 5. The Song of Achilles and Blankets 2, 3, 4 and 5. A book doesn't have to be more than one of these criteria to be rated 5/5. Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin, is 5/5 because it fulfills reason 1. The Hunger Games is 5/5 because it fulfills 5 and 7.
Sorry if that was boring. I just wanted to talk about it.