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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

What Makes a Good Book?



Hmm, indeed - what does make a good book? Really it's a bit of a trick question as books are completely subjective - or at least they should be.I mean there are certain elements all books should probably have, good grammar and punctuation for example, nobody is going to persevere with a book if it's full of grammatical errors. Generally though, stories are there for entertainment and we all have different perceptions of what that is.

I'm sure we've all read books that have had rave reviews yet finished them and wondered what all the fuss was about. Equally, I know I've read books that I've been unable to put down but my best friends don't enjoy them at all. Subjective, folks, subjective.

Recently I joined in a discussion thread on Goodreads, about some books that I enjoyed but that have their equal amount of non-fans. My contribution was basically that we're all individuals and we all enjoy different things. I had no problem with people who didn't like them saying so, or their reasons why, yet there was one person who had a huge dislike for the books and demanded every time a pro-book comment was made that that person gave a full and detailed reasoning of why they liked them. Then he would pull apart their comments, claiming the reasons given were invalid. Honestly, I had to (figuratively) walk away. Several people had pointed out we all like different things, horses for courses etc. but he would not have it; his was the only opinion that was valid, as far as he was concerned.

And this got me thinking - what is it about books that induces such snobbery and, well frankly, bitchiness? I am a huge Harry Potter fan - this it seems is pretty much acceptable. I'm also a huge Twilight fan - and for some strange reason this seems less acceptable. Yes, I've read the arguments about Bella's 'weak' character, that she's too much in love with Edward, she's not a strong enough role model etc. But do you know what? These points are not going to take away from the fact that, when I read the series, I loved it. I loved the characters, I loved the story-line and I loved Jacob Black er the authors voice.

Personally I didn't enjoy The Hunger Games - I know of no-one else who didn't enjoy them, but they just weren't for me. It doesn't make me right and everyone else wrong or vice versa - it just means we're all human and like different things.

So what does make a good book? A good storyline, beautiful descriptions, a magical world, thought provoking ideas? They are all great and important but for me it's characterisation, and a good romance, that is most important. Yep, I'm a sucker for the romance. This doesn't necessarily mean full on boy/girl (or boy/boy, girl/girl) romance, just the love between the characters that means they would do anything for each other. Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen are not at all romantically involved in that sense of the word, yet I think The Gentleman Bastard series is the most romantic I've ever read. Aww, see, I'm just a sap at heart!

So do you agree? What makes a good book in your opinion?

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