What makes a good book great is very subjective, but I have a small list of what I think makes a book great.
1) Unforgettable. If, when you’re finished reading the novel, it stays with you, it’s usually a great book. I mean, if you can remember lines and you go throughout your day and you’re constantly thinking and re-thinking the plot, then it is a great book. I say this, even if you didn’t like it. If you find yourself telling a friend about this novel (and not because anyone asked), then you’ve got a great novel on your hands. Case in point, Liz Curtis Higgs has this Scottish series based on Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. Phenomenal writing, not too crazy about the storyline (no fault of hers!), and so intense. I talked about it to whomever would listen and let me tell you folks, I don’t usually talk about the books I’ve read unless someone asks me…most people… fail to understand the lure. Or, you watch the history channel with someone and try to explain history based off a novel you read. If you can remember it, probabaly a great book.
2) It evokes emotion. One of the best books I’ve ever read is the first book of the Mark of the Lion series by Francine River (called A Voice in the Wind). I’ll never forget, I finished that book and sat on my couch crying like a baby. A great book will change your emotions whether you end up being happy, sad, or scared. Any kind of change usually means it affected you. If an important person in the novel dies and it doesn’t affect you (I’m talking hero, heroine, child or even really good friend)? Bad book.
3) Your mind hums while reading it. Now this one is a little strange and I’m not sure if everyone experiences this or if this is just something that people who love to read and dabble in writing experince. But, this is when you’re reading a novel, and in the middle of the novel you set it down to go to the restroom or wash dishes or whatever, yet your mind is humming. You’re mentally writing the next scene in your head. You’re wondering how the author is going to come to a good conclusion in the end, etc. Your mind is humming because it is coming up with ways that you would create scenarios or have old friends meet and whatnot. I know if my mind is humming, its a great book.
4) Other peoples’ opinions. My younger sister is just as much as an avid reader as I am. However, she’s much more fond of nonfiction and NYTimes Bestsellers. Thus, when she comes home from college, she will often ask me for the best books I’ve read. I usually have a handy stack of 10 that I give her. And she usually tears them apart limb from limb with one reason or the other. If she can change my mind (and she usually does) it wasn’t a great novel. It was a good novel. However, if she agrees with me? It was a great novel.
5) Doesn’t care about other’s opinons. If by any chance, my sister tears a novel apart and I still love the book, it was a great novel (see what I mean about subjective). But, let me tell you, this is rare. If reviews or people can’t change your mind, you have a great novel on your hands.
6) You reread it. On my bedstand, I have usually 5 books that I like to reread (this changes up from time to time). If I find myself rereading a novel, especially if I just finished it? Great Book. I recently read the novel Edenbrooke ( which is along the lines of Jane Austen) in one day. And reread it the next day. And a week later. And a month later. Now that’s a great book.
7) It’s not your typical book. In other words, you didn’t pick up this book to ‘feed your need’. You read something out of your comfort zone and love it. Case in point: I have some cousins who rarely read and if they read it has to be a contemporary romance. Well, I talked a few of them into reading A Voice in the Wind. They all loved it. I have a cousin to this day who only wants to borrow books from me now that change her life that one (like that’s an easy request).
Well, does anyone agree? Disagree? Got a few more to add or detract?
One thought on “Monday Musings…What Makes a Book Great?”
I have one. When I think a book is great, the people stay on my mind. Then I find myself missing the them. Such as Dee Henderson’s “The Negotiator”. Sometimes I feel like I just have to go and reread the book to reconnect to Kate and Dave! I know! Sounds weird! But I love I forgettable characters!