Within the last couple of months I have been evaluating my thoughts on various different books. I have been reading some of the reviews I’ve written and looking at the number of stars I have given each book and I noticed a pattern. I seem to like or really like most books. Looking over the ratings I have given in the past it seems as if majority of the books I read get a 5/5 or 4/5 rating. And this got me thinking, why do I think all of these books are good enough to earn 5/5 or 4/5 ratings? And if they are deserving, what makes them good books?
Books that I recommend are generally the ones that I have most enjoyed and I wonder is that okay? Should I recommend books that I have enjoyed or ones that actually impacted my life and are they not usually the same thing?
I read because I love reading. Because it fills me up with joy. Because I get excited about books. Because I care about the characters. Because it transports me to magical places. Because it allows me to dream. I read because I love reading. However, I also read to learn. To expand my knowledge. To increase my understanding of how the world works. To explore new things. To satisfy my curiosity.
So I am now in a predicament: do I read books simply for enjoyment or do I read books that will make me think? I think that a good book is one that encompasses both. A book that can be enjoyed immensely and that is able to simultaneously open minds.
Looking back again, I believe that I have not looked at both elements whilst judging books. In the past I have rated books based purely on whether I enjoyed them or not.
Books need to be fully inclusive of every single element that makes a good book to be a good book. Its ability to be both enjoyable and thought provoking are the two very broad elements and each of them have many sub-categories. For example when judging a book based on its ability to be enjoyable, was the plot interesting? Was it a page-turner? Did you fall in love with the characters? Did you feel happy/angry/sad etc with the characters? Do you love the book?
And when judging a book based on its ability to make you think, how good was the character development? Did the characters have depth? Were some of the main ideas centered around an important issue? Did you learn something? Did you have a stop-and-stare-at-the-wall-for-a-few-minutes moment?
These are just some of the elements to look at. There are some that apply to both categories like: How well was the book written? and Is there a quote on every page you’d like to write down?
Ultimately though the elements that make up a good book are a little bit different for each person. The point of this blog post being: Are the books you love good books because they are more than just enjoyable, because they have depth and because you learnt something valuable from them or are they good books simply because you love them?
In the end however, sometimes all we want to do is pick up a book that does not make us think just so that we can escape for a little while and that too is okay. Sometimes the books we pick up to make us not think are the ones that make us think the most and maybe those are the good books. Maybe, they are the best books.