I feel like I’m working with the whole chicken/egg dilemma today.  My original thesis was, ‘does a book need to be good to be important’.  And then I thought, well, what makes a book ‘good’?  And the more I thought about it, the more intertwined the ideas became.  So how do I broach this topic?  Do I want to broach this topic?

Let’s start with an example.  I recently read “Origin” by Dan Brown and “The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin.  I did not consider these books to be particularly well written.  I thought there were plot inconsistencies and gaps that brought me out of the story.  I thought some of the dialogue was tedious and repetitive.  I thought the characters were a little too stereotypical, yet behaved in illogical ways.  I did not think these books could be defined as good.

But…

Both of these books left me thinking about them after I had read them.  I wrote a post about the main plot line of “The Immortalists” because it was so thought provoking.  I have discussed these books with people and journaled about them.  I have spent more time talking about these books than books that I labeled ‘good’.  I think I’m going to remember these books. So, doesn’t that make them good?

Now think about this: can you think a book is good yet not like it?  Can you like a book but think it’s not good?  Or are like and good too intertwined?

I know there are books that I thought were well written but I did not like. (Handmaids Tale)  And if I thought about it I’m sure I could find a book that I thoroughly enjoyed yet no one would ever call it a good book (my novel).  But how many people differentiate?

So. here’s todays thought points:

  1. What makes a book good
  2. What makes a book important
  3. Do you think of these things when you are reading

Yes.  I am asking you to write my blog for me this morning because I am in a quandary.  What do we look for in a book, and why.

Discuss:

79 thoughts on “Definition: Good

  1. I just started reading The Immortalists from your discussion of the book last week. It is interesting but not what I was expecting. I don’t know what makes a book good. I absolutely love psychological thrillers. Gone Girl was amazing. I love it when the authors trick me into believing something then throw a twist in the plot. I love to try to figure it out before the ending. It has to be exciting. I get bored with a slow start. I like hearing about the characters lives. It has to be believable. A really good book is truly hard to find. Poor grammar and spelling errors bother me. I guess I am critical but have no desire to write my own book (be criticized) 😀

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    1. I know what you mean about immortalists….I knew the premise but it wasn’t what I was expecting, but I can’t stop thinking about it. Did you read “the woman in the window”? Not as good as gone girl, but you might like it. I ntersting concept….also “the wife between us” again, not as good as gone girl, but somewhat gripping

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      1. Gone Girl is hard to beat. I also liked Dark Places. I will put the woman in the window and the wife between us on my list. My favorite Margaret Atwood book is The Blind Assassin. Really a good read. I’ve read pretty much all of her books and some are great and others not even good. She has a very interesting mind.

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      2. Her mind is amazing. The handmaid was written brilliantly, I just didn’t like it as a read. I think I read about a few psychological thrillers coming out….if I remember titles I’ll tell you

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      3. Will do!! The past few things I read were more character driven. I’m reading “how to stop time” by Matt Haig. Read the blurb….it might check your boxes

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  2. 1)I like to read books which engages the reader. The curiosity of “What happens next” interests me. I don’t like a lot of detailing. Describing a scene is alright as long as it short and sweet. Plot inconsistencies ruins the story!
    2) What makes a book important is based on perspective. I have read a couple of award winning books and I did not like them. What I like, you might not, or vice versa. So the importance of a book is all in the perspective. 🙂
    3) I usually read books because I love to read. There are certain genres that I don’t prefer, so if somebody recommends it, I don’t read. If a story starts to get boring, I just skip the details😉
    Sometimes the starting is interesting and the ending is boring. When I read such books, I feel that I could have given a better ending. 😉

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    1. Bad endings kill me. My daughter recently read the Stephan King book about writing, and he said when you finish a book give it to 5 people you trust, and if the majority don’t like the ending, you have to change it. I’m going to say a bad ending is usually a deal breaker for me. I completely agree on perspective. I’ve been thinking about the difference between opinion and criticism lately, and how that totally changes how someone talks about a book. Thanks!!!

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  3. I wish I could write your post for you exactly as you write it. But as with anything in life a book can be good and yet you dislike it and it can be boring and yet you are somehow drawn towards. It’s all about the connection you may feel towards the story.

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    1. Really great point. If you can find something relatable you are more likely to like the book. I know we talk about this a lot in book club because we are rarely unanimous in how we feel about a book. Thanks!

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  4. I think it depends on where you are currently at when and while you are reading a particular book. All the books they have high school students read nowadays? Or even the ones in college. Well, if you asked the majority of the students they would answer they weren’t good, but knew them to be classics. I think our mindsets intertwine what constitutes “good” and like-able.

    I think it can still be an important subject matter and still not like the plot. Also think it may be whether or not the author does it justice. Or more believable, going back to likability. I always like To Kill a Mockingbird, but if you ask my friends from high school they would disagree on liking it but agree it is an important subject matter to discuss and keep relevant.

    I sometimes think of these things. Depends if I can turn off my analytical mind or not. Depends how much I can turn off the fourth wall, so to speak too.

    I like this post. Also I don’t think you’ve shoved it off on your readers. This is a great post to discuss!!! Thanks for the thought provoking insight in the AM! 😄

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for not thinking I’m lazy…😉. It’s funny with thinking about required school reading. My daughter and I often discuss the classics she reads to the point of why are they classics. She thought Kate Chopin “The Awakening” was horrible and can’t imagine why people think it holds up, but she thought “tale of two cities” was astonishingly perceptive and relatable. I’m rereading “the portrait of a lady” for book club this month, so it will be interesting to see if I like it or not. Thanks!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re quite welcome 😅 I will agree with your daughter on Chopin’s “The Awakening” because I kept waiting and waiting for that book to get better, waiting for something with baited breath, and it was a complete let down! My honors classes didn’t read “tale of two cities” and I believe I need to add that to my list of things to read. Then I hope your book club goes well; and you should tell us about it either way, if you please 😄

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  5. I definitely think you can understand that a book is good or well-written even if you don’t personally like it. I dislike when people review books and give them low ratings simply because it’s not a genre they particularly like. (Real explanation I’ve seen by reviewers).

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  6. I don’t think a book has to be ‘good’ to be thought-provoking or at least one that lingers in the brain. There were two Sarah J. Maas books I read last year that I thought were terrible, and I think of them more often than my favorite book from 2017. They linger because they were so aggravating.

    On the other side, I don’t think a book needs to be enjoyable to be ‘good’. I recently read ‘Seeing Red’ by Lina Meruane, about a woman who is losing her sight due to an illness. It’s gripping and beautifully written, but is not a fun book to read.

    Overall, though, I suppose, good books are in the eye of the reader, and one person’s beloved book is another’s dud.

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    1. I think your last statement is totally accurate. It really comes down to an opinion as to whether or not a book resonates with you. I admit, the best discussions my book club has are when half of us hated the book. I guess books are like art…it’s not whether they’re good or bad, it’s what you take out of the experience

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  7. I am taking a break from turning in my Instructional Design Project because it sounds like you are having so much more fun then me right now! “A Man Called Ove” introduced to me by a local book club was a great choice.Michael Robotham books are great escapism. I really enjoy reading Australian writers. I never returned to the book club because they wanted me to pay my dues online before returning and the head of the club never contacted me again. It was kind of odd but I do thank them for introducing me to the book.

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  8. “can you think a book is good yet not like it?”

    Made me smile with this question. You didn’t major in English at a liberal arts university, did you? Context and style. That’s the crux of almost all that we were forced to read– in order to learn about what was “good” in different centuries. So my answer is emphatically “yes.” 😉

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  9. For me, the very definition of a good book is one that makes you keep thinking about it. One that lingers in your consciousness and pokes you with things like, “see, that’s what I meant,” later on. I read literally around a hundred books a year, usually. Many I can’t even remember the next morning. So if a book stands out enough that I remember it afterwards, then it’s an okay book. If it keeps coming up, it’s a good book. I do NOT care what an English teacher, or the best seller list, or my best friend thinks of a book. If it’s not good TO ME, it’s not a good book. Yes, I’m that arrogant.

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    1. I think this is the place to be arrogant. Everyone has different tastes and opinions. I have read/seen plenty of things that I had wildly different opinions about than other people!

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  10. Hmm… you got me thinking! Will have to get back to you about what makes a book important.

    The first thing that came to my mind when reading your post was what my husband often says about music. He and I like a lot of the same music, but there is a lot of music that we differ on as well. I will tell him that something is not a good song and he will often reply, “You may not like it, but that doesn’t mean its not good. Doesn’t mean that the singer isn’t talented.”
    I have to say that he is right. The artist can be very talented, there are many popular musicians that I do not care for, doesn’t mean they aren’t good, just means its not my style.

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  11. A good book should not only be well written but thought provoking too. Personally, I enjoy a good psychological thriller. Love Atwood’s books because they are beautifully written with unusual plots. Think I may try ‘The Immortalists’ because a book that you think about afterwards, is good too.

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    1. It’s so rare to find a book that has lasting appeal though. This month my book club did “rules of civility”. I had read it awhile ago, but when I reviewed it for club I found I barely remembered the big plot points.

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  12. For me part of definition of good book is one that makes me think. A book can be well written but be fluff. Or so idealistic it makes me gag. There are some books I read and go “why isn’t this more well known! These points are so important!” And most of those have to do with challenging some social construct or norm or boundary or giving the history behind some social norm of ours. I have no idea if they are well written or not, I usually am too caught up in the interest to think about the form itself.

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  13. I want a book that makes me think and/or feel. One that I want to keep on my bookshelf for future reference, not one that I am willing to put in the donation pile. In the end I think it is personal opinion, just like a lot of other things. What’s good to you may be so-so to me.

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  14. If I am reading for entertainment what makes a book good is an interesting plot. One I can relate to or one where I form an attachment to the characters while it still holds my attention.

    If I’m teaching what makes a book good is entirely different. If the vocabulary is outstanding, if the characters are three dimensional, if there is social or political relevance those components make a good book in an educational setting .

    What makes a book important? Hmmm interesting question. That’s subjective on a personal level. If I read about the history of the Jewish people it’s important to me because that’s my heritage. If a book teaches a lesson about humanity it becomes important to society.

    When reading for fun i do think about if a book is any good, because if it isn’t well written or to my taste, I will put it down. But, as far as important, no I don’t think about that at all when reading for entertainment. Unless, it’s a self help book and I don’t particularly care for those. Those are not entertaining.

    When selecting a novel for my classroom, I tied it into curriculum. So I chose themes that would inspire, promote discussion, teach historical accuracy, enrich vocabulary. There’s a difference in reading a novel to learn and reading to just chill out and find a good ghost story. Two very different reasons to read. The Importance in literature is educational. It teaches us about history, human emotions, poetry, and exquisite prose. Reading for pleasure is often a horse of a different color. It’s rather like watching the History channel or tuning in to The Big BangTheory.

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      1. I just downloaded the Imortalist. I read a couple chapters and I’m intrigued. However, I’m currently reading a novel based on the life of Lord Byron which is very interesting, and today I downloaded a Victorian murder mystery with a Sherlock Holmes And Watson type of detectives but the Watson character is female and psychic. So that sounds like a great deal of fun.

        I wrote a grant on Florida ‘s endangered wildlife one year and received funds for a class set of Carl Hiassen’s Hoot (about the Borrowing Owl) and since we got into owls I also had enough funds for sets of the first two Harry Potter books. Those novels were great fun and inspired the children to create some amazing projects. I would never have read Hiaasen or JK Rowling had I not done those books in class. Since I’ve taught several different grades over the years I wS able to introduce a nice variety of novels over the years.

        The year the twilight series came out the girls wanted to read it so I let a few do it as a book report and the. We compared the theme to Romeo and Juliet. At the end of the year the class got me a life size Edward Cullen stand up figure. Lol I already had a life size Johnny Depp as Captain Jack in my reading corner. ( Theme… Books are a treasure.) I had a lot of fun in class.

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  15. I like books that have a major historical storyline, but a side story of other event going on at that particular time. Erik Larsen has taken that genre to a whole new level and I can’t wait for each time he publishes. I can’t say I really like them all, but I’ve never put one down unfinished.

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    1. I agree Al. You hit the nail on the head. The reader feels like he/she is right there in the middle of the action. THAT is the exact feeling I tried to convey to my students. One of my 4th graders commented about Harry Potter when we were reading the first book in class. He said he felt like he was sitting in the middle of Hogwarts and everything was alive all around him. It was a perfect description. The children had to take state writing tests and that was the aha moment for them all in understanding how action moves the story forward. Good historical fiction writers capture that feeling and take us back in time with them. So much so that I almost hate for the book to end.

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  16. All books we come across can never read – eating the good principles, and discarding the bad ones! Thanks for unleashing the thoughts that go on in your mind!

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  17. All the books we come across can never be read – eating the good principles, and discarding the bad ones. Thanks for unleashing the thoughts that go on in your mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I agree with you on The Handmaids Tale and yes, you can enjoy a book without it being”important”. I feel like some books feel as if they were written with the hope that someone would make them into a movie, you can almost picture it especially with a lot of unimportant dialog. I read to be entertained, to escape or to learn about something or even to be amused if I worried about the book being important I never would have found some of my favorite authors.

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  19. If a book captures my attention and then holds it, if it draws me into its own world, if it makes me think differently about ordinary things, if I find it wildly funny or entertaining, then that makes it a good book. And the only books on my bookshelf are good books.

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    1. But, I always think about the larger question he poses. The topic of the awful book before origin kept me going with discussion for awhile….

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