“How many stars does it have?” is a common thing to ask about books.
And yes, the star ratings really do matter. So much so, in fact, that every now and then an author seems to get caught buying reviews to inflate his star count. I have to admit that this has ruined Amazon reviews a bit for me, and any book I’ve never heard of that has 4 five-star reviews, each of which is very short (often riddled with typos), gets a bit of an o_O from me. The clever XKCD poked fun at this a while back.
I recently wrote a whole post devoted to reasons I buy the books I do, but I’m still not sure exactly how this book discovery thing works.
So I devised a new way to see which book is the best: Total Number of Stars.
I went with a top-of-mind random sample; books I either knew where immensely popular interspersed with books I find immensely good. Of course, I would imagine that a book that is both very popular AND really good would win this competition hands down (are you thinking The Great Gatsby? I sure am). I take the book’s average rating and multiply that with total number of reviews to get what I shall humbly call the Johann Star Total.
So for instance, A Game of Thrones has an average rating of 4 stars. With 4,350 reviews, that gets it a Johann Star Total of 4 x 4350 = 17400. Feel free to use this from now on when discussing books.
Top Ten Books, based on total number of stars:
10. To Kill a Mockingbird.
Average rating: 4.5. Total reviews: 2,548.
Total number of stars: 11,466
9. The Great Gatsby
Average rating: 4. Total reviews: 3,711.
Total number of stars: 14,844
8. The DaVinci Code
Average rating: 3,5. Total reviews: 4,973.
Total number of stars: 17,405
7. Nineteen Eighty-Four
Average rating: 4,5. Total reviews: 3,878.
Total number of stars: 17,451
Average rating: 4. Total reviews: 6,236.
Total number of stars: 24,944
Average rating: 4,5. Total reviews: 6,291.
Total number of stars: 28,309
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Average rating: 4,5. Total reviews: 7,758.
Total number of stars: 34,911
3. Gone Girl
Average rating: 4. Total reviews: 13,599.
Total number of stars: 54,396
2. Fifty Shades of Grey
Average rating: 3,5. Total reviews: 21,254.
Total number of stars: 74,389
1. The Hunger Games
Average rating: 4,5. Total reviews: 17,405.
Total number of stars: 78,322
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