Lists and Tags

5 Books I Love with a Low(er) Rating on Goodreads

Do you ever read books you think are fantastic and then realize not everyone thinks like you do? I know, shocker. Lately, I’ve noticed this more and more, so I went to my Goodreads “read” shelf and sorted books from lowest ratings to highest ratings. Imagine my surprise when I found that some of my favorite books aren’t as well-liked by other people! Today, I’m sharing my list with you.

Before listing these criminally low ratings, I want to clarify a few things.

First: These aren’t the lowest-rated books on Goodreads. Not by a long shot. But they do have lower-than-average star ratings.
Second: A “lower-than-average” rating, to me, is anything lower than 3.5 stars.
Third: Some of these books have a better rating than 3.5 stars, but my star rating was still much higher to the average rating.
Fourth: I don’t give out four stars to books I just read once and never think about again. Those books usually get three stars for entertainment value. If I give a book four stars, it really stuck with me.

I’m sure that will make sense as soon as I show you some examples. I’d also love to hear from you if you share my love for any of these books!

As always, click the book cover to see its Goodreads page

1. Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

This is the book that inspired this post. Gingerbread tells the story of Harriet Lee and Perdita Lee, a mother and daughter from Druhástrana, a country many say is fictional. In a way, it’s inspired by Hansel and Gretel and other Germanic fairytales.

I absolutely adored Oyeyemi’s book. Her writing is brilliant, full of similes, metaphors, and dry-cut humour—all in the best of ways. On top of that, the worlds she creates are incredibly original and packed with magical realism. It’s been almost two months since I read it and I still think of it often.

Many reviews, however, completely contradict all the praise I’ve given this novel so far. They call it nonsense, ridiculous, confusing, and pointless. I was so shocked when reading these reviews, especially the ones posted by my Goodreads friends!

My Rating: 4 stars
Average Rating: 3.09 stars
Most popular rating: 3 stars

2. The Dinner by Herman Koch

Imagine a super awkward dinner party with people all hiding secrets and gossip from each other. Now imagine there’s a heinous crime involved at the core of this interaction. Oh, and all the characters are wealthy, privileged people. What you’re left with is this book.

This was one of the most fun, enthralling reading experiences I have ever had. It kept me glued to the page as new things and truths were being revealed. Not to mention that there are so many twists and that all the characters are, in their own way, despicable. What’s not to love?

A lot of reviews I’ve read point out that the twists aren’t clever. They also say that there’s unnecessary drama in every page. On top of that, they claim the plot isn’t believable. Since I read this one so long ago, I can’t see where these comments are coming from… As I remember the novel, it was brilliant.

My Rating: 4 stars
Average Rating: 3.22 stars
Most popular rating: 3 stars

3. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

If you haven’t heard of this book, you definitely aren’t following the same people on Twitter as I am. This was everywhere. It tells the story of Natalie Tan, a young woman who returns to Chinatown, where she’s from, following her mother’s death. While the two were estranged, Natalie finds a brand new connection to her mother and her roots through food.

When I read this back in May, it hit me in the gut. It’s such a beautiful story about family, heritage, and dreaming. Roselle Lim packed such an elegant story in an easy-to-read prose, and I want to thank her a million times for it. It made me think of the foods I associate with home and with how I connect with the ones I love. It also made me sad for neglecting keeping up affectionate bonds, which hurt, but was necessary.

Most reviews I read from people I don’t follow were DNFings. They thought the romance was cheesy (I’ll grant them that), the plot unbelievable, and the magical elements all over the place. Because I have a soft spot for magical realism, this didn’t bother me in the least.

My Rating: 4 stars
Average Rating: 3.50 stars
Most popular rating: 3 stars

4. The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

As soon as this book came out, I knew I had to read it. It gathers two of my favorite things in books: epidemics and magical elements. The Dreamers is the story of a small college town tucked in the hills of Southern California. One day, a student falls asleep and doesn’t wake up, but is still alive. Soon after, waves of students and people outside the university also fall into the same dream-filled sleep.

This is, hands down, one of the best books I have read in 2019. Everything about it spoke to me. The writing is lyrical and the narrating voice is compelling: it weaves between omniscience and ignorance constantly. The result is hard-hitting sentences brimming with emotion. The cast of characters, the bonds formed, and the abnormality of this disease kept me engrossed in the novel. And it has made me a huge fan of the author.

While the reviews of this novel aren’t too negative, a handful of the highest-voted reviews are kind of harsh on Walker’s novel. The main criticisms are the too-slow plot, the whimsical prose, and washed-out characters. As a lover of sleepy novels, I can see where these reviewers are coming from.

My Rating: 5 stars
Average Rating: 3.67 stars
Most popular rating: 4 stars

5. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

The best way I can describe this is by calling it a multi-perspective, diverse feminist dystopia. It’s told from the point of view of different women, all struggling to live in female-oppressing societies. Four of the characters live in “contemporary” America, where life is sacred and any interference is punishable by law. We follow the lives of five women:
— A single high-school teacher legally unable to adopt.
— A frustrated mother of two stuck in a loveless marriage.
— An adopted teenage girl who sees herself pregnant and nowhere to turn.
— A forest-dwelling homeopath helping women get abortions.
— A 19th-century long-forgotten female polar explorer.

The execution of this novel was absolutely brilliant, in my opinion. Because it portrays the lives of so many women in different circumstances, we get an incredible glimpse into this dystopian America. On top of all that, the path to this life-worshipping society seems entirely plausible and like it could happen at any minute. I felt a big connection with the characters, which kept me at the edge of my seat as their fates were decided.

Most negative reviews call this book a jumble of incoherence. According to the reviewers, the plot is impossible to follow with all the back-and-forth. They also state that they couldn’t feel an emotional attachment to any of the characters.

My Rating: 5 stars
Average Rating: 3.69 stars
Most popular rating: 4 stars

What are some books you love others seem to not have enjoyed (or not enjoyed as thoroughly)? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

4 thoughts on “5 Books I Love with a Low(er) Rating on Goodreads

  1. Ah this is a lovely list, so many books I don’t know and will have to check out for sure 🙂 I really enjoyed Natalie Tan, even if the magical realism elements left me a little confused, at times, I thought it was such a lovely and heartwarming book overall ❤


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