Ranking Books by Their Total Number of Amazon Stars

Johann Thorsson

Staff Writer

Johann Thorsson is a native of Iceland, but spends much of his time in Bookland. He has lived in a few parts of the world but currently lives in Iceland with a pretty woman and a mischievous son who resembles Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) more each day. He has a complicated but ultimately useless degree in bioinformatics from a very pretty college in England. His favorite books are 1984, Flowers for Algernon and The English Patient. He hopes one day to call himself a writer without feeling like he's just fooling himself. Blog: Johann Thorsson - On Book and Writing Twitter: @johannthors

“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.

To Kill a Mockingbird cover

Average rating: 4.5. Total reviews: 2,548.

Total number of stars: 11,466

9. The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

Average rating: 4. Total reviews: 3,711.

Total number of stars: 14,844

8. The DaVinci Code

The Da Vinci 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

6. Twilight

twilight original book cover

Average rating: 4. Total reviews: 6,236.

Total number of stars: 24,944

5. Wool

wool cover

Average rating: 4,5. Total reviews: 6,291.

Total number of stars: 28,309

4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter

Average rating: 4,5. Total reviews: 7,758.

Total number of stars: 34,911

3. Gone Girl

Gone Girl cover

Average rating: 4. Total reviews: 13,599.

Total number of stars: 54,396

2. Fifty Shades of Grey

50 shades of grey

Average rating: 3,5. Total reviews: 21,254.

Total number of stars: 74,389

1. The Hunger Games

Hunger Games UK paperback Film Tie-in

Average rating: 4,5. Total reviews: 17,405.

Total number of stars: 78,322


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