Prior to blogging and being an avid Goodreads user, I never really thought too extensively about what makes a book good or bad or really why I liked something or not. It was either I liked it or I didn’t. I didn’t think much past that as I didn’t really anyone to really articulate my thoughts to about why I liked a book or what made it good or bad in my eyes.
Since starting this book blog, I’ve gotten to read what makes a good book or a bad book for many people. It amazes me how some books have praises sung out the wahzoo. You know people willing to like tattoo the book on their FACE and crazy shiz like that. And then some people vehemently HATE this same book calling it utter rubbish that they wouldn’t even let TARNISH their trash can. Obviously we all have our own requirements for what makes us like or dislike something. And that’s a good thing. YAY opinions.
But sometimes I feel unsure of myself as a reviewer when I review a book that I liked or even LOVED to find out that people I trust LOATHED it, said the writing was horrible or the characters didn’t seem realistic…when maybe I thought the exact opposite. It doesn’t sway my opinion or my initial liking of the book but it does cause me to wonder maybe I don’t have a clue as to what good writing is or maybe I don’t know how to read critically and analyze enough. I know I don’t have the literary analysis skills that some possess because I didn’t exactly pay attention in school to give a damn about plot, characterization or any other things that make up a book. I was too busy reading. Blogging really has become an excellent challenge to help me to read more critically and really think about it beyond the initial thoughts. I will never write literary and scholarly reviews like some do (AND THEY AMAZE ME) but I do want to think more about I’m reading.
Some things that can make a book good for me (not always are the all together):
* Characters: While I do love a good plot, sometimes I find myself being so character driven. A good character is what makes me read slow-moving books (along with luscious prose) because I connect with them on some level. I love to see them grow, to make mistakes and to remind me of my own humanness.
* Plot: Ok, I do like a good plot. I don’t want flashy flashy. I want it to flow together and seamlessly. Don’t play the red light, green light game with me. Ease into it, baby. The plot shouldn’t be all “HEY LOOK AT ME I’M A PLOT!” That just irritates me. A good plot can be ACE.
* World-building: If you can make me forget where I am…you kick ass. I want to be taken to wherever it is, whether it be the prairie or space, and I want to FEEL like I’m there and believe so much so that I can’t tell the two apart. It’s like that feeling when you are in between sleep and you are dreaming about stepping off some stairs and you start moving your feet and shit only to wake up and be like, “WTH. Why am I moving like this? I really thought I was walking down the stairs to make out with McDreamy” And then sometimes you THINK you are waking up but really you are DREAMING you are waking up. But I digress. Get me lost. But don’t info dump. PLEASEANDTHANKYOU.
* Beautiful writing: I am a sucker for pretty words. If I have the urge to highlight the shit out of your novel or find myself not being able to read because I am too busy post-it noting beautiful things, you win. I will salivate all over your words.
Those are just a few things. But even still, I sometimes feel like I don’t even know what the heck a good plot IS or what fully developed characters are. I THINK I do sometimes and then sometimes I’ll read someones well written argument against a book and think…hmmm..why didn’t I see that? Does anyone else ever feel like this? But also, sometimes I’ll find myself racing through a book and can’t put it down…does that mean it is necessarily good? These things I find hard to reconcile sometimes.
So let’s get the talky talk on: What makes a book “good” for you? Does the writing matter? The plot? How fast your little fingers turned those pages? I want to know! And also, do you think there are things that universally make a book good or bad? I always rolled my eyes when it came to my Lit and Arts discussion of “what makes art good” but seriously..I want to have this convo with you. I want to know what makes you declare FIVE STAR STATUS or hurl across the room hatred!