A few weeks ago, I read this post by Jess from Essentially Jess about what makes a good book, a good book. I have been thinking about it a lot recently, as I have been reading books that aren’t in my usual genre. It’s also perfect timing for Kylie’s Reading Writes which is about favourite books.
I’ve been branching out and I have been really impressed with what I have found so far. I’ve been reading books that are ‘popular’ which I have normally avoided like the plague. I have long believed that if something is loved by the masses, and they can’t really tell you why..then the book is more about hype and less about substance.
While the books that I have been reading have been different from my usual genre, they all have things in common. These are the things that make books my favourite. You see I go through phases, I don’t know if I have any specific books that I call my all time favourite. I can’t even pinpoint them to a genre anymore.
The thing that all of these books have in common is the way that the author creates the character profile. Not all authors are able to do this well, not all of them are able to make you believe in the characters that they write about. Even a shitty story line can be rescued by well executed character profiles.
All of the books that I have fallen in love with, they have left me wanting more of the characters. This isn’t because I finished the book feeling like I didn’t know the characters, it’s the complete opposite. A good book leaves me wanting to read stories about its characters forever. I want to be sad that the book is over, I want to miss the characters within the pages.
I used to read a book to the end, even if it was bad. There was something in me, a stubborn resolve that I wouldn’t let the book beat me, that if I just read to the end then maybe it would get better. I no longer believe that. I let a book have a few chapters to shape the story, to tell me about the characters, to drag me in and if none of that happens then I let it go. I don’t have time for bad books anymore.
What does a good book mean for you?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT!
I now have a 100 page rule for my book club books, that if I’m not into it after 100 pages, I ditch it – but I still find that hard to do…for me, it just needs to have a good use of language or a plot that grabs me…
A good book for me must have great characters. The Author must have loads of skill to get the action going quickly and without overuse of descriptive words. I want to be able to visualise the text instantly. No difficult to pronounce or similar character names. If the protagonist is female and is a model, a journalist or otherwise exceptionally goodlooking, I can’t take that book seriously and won’t read it. Got to be able to identify with that main character.
I love a good set of characters. If I don’t “care” about the characters, I find the book so hard to read!
This ties in well with the post that Jess published today, about writing characters. I think that if you don’t care about the characters, or cry for them if need be, then the book isn’t worth reading. I think Jane Eyre is one of my favourite characters, and Aljaz from Richard Flanagan’s Death of a River Guide.
I’m with Amy – I need to be intrigued by the characters. I don’t even necessarily have to like them but they need to have enough depth to make me want to find out more about them and follow their story.
I love so many different genres of books it is not funny! I guess I choose books by recommendations by others, or by reading the back description of the story and liking what I see OR I see a review or something that gets my attention. The trouble I’m having lately though is staying awake long enough at night to get anything read! I’ve been on the same book for months! I need to go on a holiday so that I give myself permission to read through the day 😉 Min xo
Sci fi, horror, fantasy, humour, thrillers. I avoid reality completely, I already know all the bad things that happen to people, I don’t want to be reminded. I find current events and biographies/auto biographies either obvious or depressing. There is nothing new under the sun, I am never surprised by the horrors of human nature, it just makes me sad.
I avoid anything about children being hurt for the same reasons. Not out of lack of empathy, but rather a surfeit of it. Sometimes it feels like I have no skin, though my work with children and the studying I have been doing have de-sensitised me a little, and I have learned through various workshops to deal with the overload of feelings better. But still, why put myself through that if I don’t have to?
I read to be entertained, the writing MUST be good, and I love twists and unexpected turns. I just browse libraries, book shops and online randomly, I will read the blurb then a couple of paragraphs from a few different places in the book and then if it doesn’t grab me, that’s that. Sometimes I will look for a favourite author. I also love books of short stories.
Books have been my consolation, companionship and entertainment since I was just a little girl. Long live reading.
I used to read books from curiousity now not so much. I read books because fo the author, because of good reviews – the flip side is that I tend to stay away from books with bad reviews – which is perhaps not a good thing at all. A good book for me is one I cannot put down and plays out like a movie in my mind, where I don’t think the characters are real, I wholeheartedly believe that they are xx
I agree. Well developed characters are essential in a good book. I can almost forgive a wishy washy storyline if the characters are intriguing.
It’s all about the characters for me. I don’t need to necessarily ‘like’ them, but I need to find them interesting and have some kind of emotional connection to them.
I really tried to get into chick lit so I had something “easy” to read. But it frustrates me, nothing happens, then a little happens and that’s it! I feel like I’ve been ripped off from investing into the characters. Having said that, I’m currently calling my NaNo book chick lit, but that’s because I think it’s crap haha.
Yep, I can forgive a lot of plotting issues if the characters are great. My favourite book of all time is Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty, which has an awesome story AND awesome characters, even the minor ones. Talented bastard that he is.
I really need to connect to the characters, to love a book. And yes, I won’t waste my precious reading time if they don’t measure up 🙂
Yes, I determine a good book by my sadness to end it. There are some books that I feel like I have almost a real connection with the characters, their journeys move me and yes, then I don’t want to finish them. I even feel so connected to a book sometimes hat I can’t possibly start a new one because I have immersed myself so much in the world of the character and I can’t shake it (not for a bit anyway).
There is definitely not enough time in life to waste it reading bad books. It dawned on me a few years back, that I won’t be able to read everything I want to in my lifetime. I need to be discerning!
Yes, I need to be hooked within the first few chapters otherwise I let it go. There have been some which I’ve stuck with for nearly 3/4 the way and then just abandoned. Now it’s the first four chapters or I’m letting you go.
If I don’t struggle to put it down or miss it when I do, then its not good. I also find myself thinking about what is going to happen next to the characters and am genuinely concerned when they get hurt. If I am not ‘invested’ in the characters, I will not pick up the book again. Generally, you can tell how good the book is based on how messy the house is and how late or rushed dinner is!
I have quite a few books on my Kindle I gave up after three quarters of the way through. The books I love are the ones I read really slowly so I can savor them. My favourite book of all time is Replay and I’ve read it four times over the last 25 years.
I like all kinds of different genres and books but the one thing i insist on is a happy ending. I know, they’re predictable, but I’m sorry, books that have sad endings just make me miserable. I don’t need that. Life is miserable enough, so there MUST be a happy ending! -Aroha x
I am a bit like you Tegan I would always go for obscure books from the not popular shelf. But in the midst of my PND I kept finding those types of books too depressing . So I guess it can depend on my mood I generally choose a heavy intense book and follow that with an easy read. As for a good book I love books like you say that stay with me when I have put it down I wonder what the characters are up too. Do you have a kindle? I am thinking of getting one.
A good book for me is when I finish it I feel as though I’ve just lost a bunch of friends. I like to get fully involved in the characters lives and feel like I am one with them.
Leanne @ Deep Fried fruit
It’s a hard thing to define, isn’t it? I like good characters but having said that I seem to have missed out on fiction for quite some time lately. The last three books I’ve purchased have all been at signings and by sheer coincidence, all humorous memoirs by male authors.
If I had to pin it down, fiction or non, I’d say humour and heart are the two things I most look for in a read.