So you can read my books

Monday, May 11, 2015


Or what makes a book good?

What is the criteria you use to gauge whether a book is worth the read?

Does a book have to be good to make a difference in someone’s life? Why or why not?

Victor Standish:

"For me, if it grabs my interest, makes me think, or helps me learn something then it is a good book."

Samuel McCord:

"A good book is a treasure trove of humanity so that no matter where you open a page and start reading, there is something new to be discovered."

Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace:

" I can more easily say why I don’t like certain books and to be honest, it is often the result of the author.

Of the most recent books that come to mind: one author I simply don’t like due to her style of writing and how her characters are always women who can’t take care of themselves."

So?  What do you think makes for a good book?

Action.  No action.  Romance.  No romance.  A bit of both?

I believe there are some universal facets that make a book good and a good book (the two are sometimes not the same.)


If you don't connect to the voice, then no matter how spell-binding the plot, you will drift away from the book ...

that is if you even buy the book at all.


Because the Voice, like the wind in a ship's sails, is what carries you through the book's journey. 

Like an aroma, it permeates each page, each word of the book.

The voice is what will make a page detailing even a train ride something memorable or witty or both.


The sparkling character of Tony Stark made IRON MAN.  Hannibal Lector dominates each page he is on.

The characters in the world of Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz kept me turning the pages to meet more of his one-of-a-kind neighbors.

Memorable characters bring the story to life.  They make you itch to get back to their banter when the world draws you away from their adventures.

In a way, they become friends you can come back to.  They let us see and feel the world in a new way, expanding our minds, enriching our lives.


It doesn't have to be a fantasy setting.  No matter the genre, however, the world around the characters must feel "real." 

Great settings "ground" the story.  They highlight in the larger world, the tragic or comic elements in the smaller world of the lead characters.

Settings in good books become actual characters in the story either nourishing or preying, sometimes doing both.

After Katrina, New Orleans' streets killed the children/teens who roamed them.  Their souls went before their lives.

Take 1895 Cairo:

 the common man fared even worse.  Their servitude was to multiple masters: taxes, poverty, landed aristrocrats, British prejudice.  They were always in the crossfire of conflicting demands.

A well done setting breathes life into the story you are reading.


In essence, the plot has the reader asking, "What happens next?"

What is riveting to you may not be riveting to me. 

But the bottom line to the gripping plot must be PERSONAL and PRIMAL to the reader.

The neighbor of a police detective has her baby kidnapped.  The child is being returned to the cleaning lady one finger, one toe at a time.  No ransom demand.

Did the cleaning lady see something she shouldn't have?  Did she throw away the wrong thing?  Or is it about the detective's past, something to punish him?

Whatever the plot, the reader is invested in it and is staying up longer than she should to see what happens next.

What do you think is essential in a good book?


  1. I need to feel, I need to think. And a good book in my world is one I will revisit. Sometimes again and again.

  2. I think you covered all the bases. There have to be characters we really care about, a vivid setting, a story that draws us in, and action and ideas that climb to an inevitable climax and ending.

  3. All of the above. Great characters mean nothing if there isn't a sense of place. Place means nothing if I don't want to read the next sentence.

    A good book (to me) means I'm still thinking about it months and perhaps years past the time of reading.

  4. All of your criteria are important for a good book. Also the definition of good can vary.

    For me there are good books from an entertaining standpoint. If the reading of the book was fun and a smooth flowing page-turning experience for me then that was good from that standpoint.

    However a book that makes me think even if it might not have been all that fun then it's pretty good as well.

    The book starts reaching my level of greatness from my perspective if I can't shake it after I've read it or maybe it hits me later with a gotcha moment of realization of what the book was saying.

    There are many books that were good while I was reading them and immediately afterwards--kind of like carnival ride good. But they are mostly forgotten later.

    Then there are the books that cling to me and grow better the more I think about them and then I feel compelled to read them again. Those are really good books.

    An example I think of right off is Catcher in the Rye. The book kind of bugged me while I was reading it and I kept wondering why it was held in such high esteem. But then I kept thinking about it and couldn't forget what was in that book. I still think that book is somewhat overrated, but I also see it as a good book, certainly better than while I was reading it.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  5. Not sure. A good book makes me feel something. Be it anger or laughter or whatever!

  6. That is a great question, and I agree with all of your answers. I think I must CARE about what happens to the character(s). If the writer can do that, I'm in.

  7. Elephant's Child:
    I revisit books, too. :-) Most for the friendships etched in the pages or the witty dialogue.Characters I would like as friends, I usually drop in year to year. :-)

    And suspense, too. And humor. :-)

    You and Arlee are alike in believing a good book will have you thinking about it long after you've finished reading it.

    You're right: the definition of "good" can vary from reader to reader or from one reason for reading to another.

    A good research book may be dull, but the facts revealed may be new and quite useful to you in your needs.

    In THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS, I tried to write a book that would literally grow on you: one that could be enjoyed when read as a child, and then enjoyed on another level when read as an adult.

    I've heard the same thing you wrote about CATCHER IN THE RYE.

    Thanks for writing such in-depth comments to my last two posts! :-)

    Yes, for a book to have you feel something, it must be authentic, right?

    I think you hit it on the head: the characters must be relatable and touch our hearts, too.

  8. I need to be captivated or hooked very early one and I want the be held in suspense. I need to know that the stakes are real and also to feel the emotions that the characters are experiencing