What qualifies a great book? ...and who died and made you king?

posted by Jory on Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I finished reading one at quarter to 5 am this morning. Depending on the style of writing and genre of the novel I'm sure some of you might not agree with me.

I used to think that there was a universal judge that made book good or bad, or more worthy acclaim or whatever. I've realized, only recently though, that the qualifications for a great book are subjective. What I consider to be a great book might not be what you consider a great book, and vice-versa.

I also went through a time where I felt that any book that was not a classical piece of literature did not merit any thought. This is absurd. This reminds me of a statement I once heard from an acquaintance who said that filmmakers should not waste their time watching entertaining movies just for fun, only films that were Oscar-worthy.

I'm sorry, but like I've said before, everyone needs to let loose a little once in a while and just enjoy themselves without having to think about it too much. And sometimes those "brainless" movies or piece of light reading are just what the doctor ordered to take the edge off.

I am no longer ashamed to admit that, though I love classic literature and intelligent fiction/narrative non-fiction/history/etc..., I also love my witty Chick-lit.

And Harry Potter. There, I said it. You want to fight me now?

So anyway, here are the qualifications for what a great book is TO ME:
  1. A great book has me hooked from the very first page, or if not,
  2. Makes me notice something that at least wants to give the first chapter a fair chance.
  3. A great book can make me cry and make me laugh, and often within a matter of pages.
  4. A great book can make me feel good about myself.
  5. A great book teaches me things...(whether it's some deep insight into the human existence or something as trivial as getting a stain out of a piece of clothing).
  6. A great book makes me want to travel to the places it describes.
  7. A great book makes me hope for a specific ending, an ending I can't imagine actually possible, surprise me along the way, and be better than what I'd wished for when it's over.
  8. A great book makes me want to keep reading, even when my eyelids are getting heavy and I'm yawning so much I have to re-read sentences (then keeps me up til 5am).
  9. A great book is one that I'll remember for years to come, and want to re-read again and again.
  10. Finally, a great book inspires me to sit down and write.
So that is what tickles my fancy. And so if a book can achieve all of those qualifications - whatever the genre, whatever other people think of it, whatever audience it is intended for - I'm going to add it to my bookshelf and be proud.


Alice in Brighton on 20/10/08 2:09 PM said...

I am so with you on this one! I've done an English Degree and the books that stick in my mind most are the ones that I didn't cover on my course. I think any book that sticks in your mind for any reason, whether it's made you laugh, cry or taught you something about yourself or other people qualifies as a 'great book', definitely. Just because other people might hate it never makes me ashamed. If I love a book, I'll fight its corner very much like you do yourself! Anyway, I'm sure you agree the world would be a boring place without debate, wouldn't it? (Maybe I just love to argue a little too much...) Love the blog by the way, keep it up! x


jo writes the blog Copyright © 2012 Design by Antonia Sundrani Vinte e poucos