What makes a book a good read?

What makes a book a good read?

If you read the “about me” page, by now you’ll know that I am a bookworm. I read a lot but, I confess, I’m not an hard to please reader. It’s not really important if the novel on my side table is just another version of “the boy meets the girl” or “the forces of good fight the forces of evil”. I’m not looking for literary masterpieces only, since a novel is well written and it holds my interest I am pleased.

Is that dishonourable? I don’t think so.

However it seems that a lot of people are afraid of telling the truth about their tastes about books, as if liking the 50 Shades of series or Twilight or anything else makes them bad persons. Well, I don’t want to be this hypocritical and I will tell you exactly what I search in a book:

1. Positive characters I can love

This is pretty important. I need to feel for the main characters in order to get into the story. Examples? Well I feeel for Harry Potter because he is an ill-used orphan with huge responsibility and an impossible task. I feel for Elizabeth Bennet because she is witty, smart, underappreciated by her family and she deserves far better than that. I feel for Beatrice Prior (Divergent by Veronica Roth) because she experiences inner conflicts and I would like to see her triumph over them. I feel for Linc, Madison and Grant Vasser (The Vasser Legacy novels by Katie Jennings) because, even if they are unashamedly rich, they are human, they have problems and they make mistakes.

In other words I like character when they are well built, with both virtues and weakness so that they aren’t too perfect nor too  wicked.

2. Negative charcters I can hate and/or understand

The bad guy (or girl) in a novel is as important as the good one and there are two kind of antagonists that I like. The bad character can be someone I hate unconditionally, someone I want to take out of the page and beat up with all my strength, someone I really want to see defeated. As an alternative the antagonist can be a character with distorted but logical motivation that drives him/her to do bad things. I will equally want to see this character defeated but, in this case, I would understand the reasoning behind the action.

3. A good rhythm

A good novel must have the right rhythm, not too slow so that your attention is absorbed and not too fast so that you can get to know the characters before something big happens. It’s probably one of the most difficult thing for a writer to achieve and obviously one of the most important. I often found that an ordinary story told with a good rhythm is more enjoyable than an original one told too slowly.

4. Tension

For me this is as important as rhythm. I automatically rate 5 stars every novel that makes me want to turn the page to see what happens next, independently from all the rest. All my favourite books have this in common: they make me act like a drug addict.

This is the scene: I start reading a new novel and I find it absorbing, so absorbing that even if I have other stuff to do I keep reading. I read while eating, I read in the bathroom, I read in the car (if someonelse is driving, of course), I read in the line at the bank, I read while people are talking to me and I don’t understand a word of what they say. And when I can’t read because I’m driving, I’m cooking, I’m working, my attention is always magnetically drawn to the book.

For instance, Twilight made me feel like that. I read the four book series in less than a week, while I should have studied for an exam at University. I was obsessed to the point that I rewarded myself with a chapter of the novel every hour of study. I was in the middle of Eclipse and I begged my father to buy Breaking Dawn on his way back from work.

If this scares you, it’s better not to mention what I did for Harr Potter.

5. Happy Ending 

Oh, yes. I want happy endings, I need happy endings, I demand happy endings!

I can endure everything an author decides to put me through, sacrifice, desperation, loss, pain, death, but in the end I want a positive solution. At least one of the positive characters must reach the end of the story alive and tolerably happy.

That’s all! I know it seems a lot to ask, but actually I found several novels that meet with one or more of these points.

Most of the books I love are not considered literary masterpieces. On the other hand I often find that what literary criticism considers a good novel is far from my tastes. In any way, these are the parameters that I use to evaluate everything I read, that’s why I rated 5 stars Pride and Prejudice and Divergent, Artemis Fowl and An Ideal Husband, Harry Potter and Much Ado About Nothing. 

I don’t feel ashamed about that because I read for pleasure not for torture and I won’t despise publicly what I secretly like.

Thank you for visiting my blog and read so far. If you liked what you read or want to express your disapproval, think about leaving a comment.

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