Okay, you read the title and you’re waiting for some words of wisdom from me to give you the answer to the question: what makes a good book?
Beat the heck out of me.
I just read a bunch of posts from people on Crimespace, who think they know. They suggested that good books ring true. That when you are reading a good book, you believe in the characters and the plot.
Probably true. We writers talk a lot about not breaking the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief. We pontificate on how not to take the reader out of the story.
There was a suggestion that bad books are forgettable and that maybe some of the stuff that is supposedly “brilliant” was very forgettable. I can sure agree with that. There is always a “brilliant” coming of age novel out there that seems to me to be just claptrap.
I think that what I like in a book is when I can identify with the character and it helps me think my own situations out. No, the characters don’t have to be like me–the last good book I read was about an Intuit indian woman in her thirties, named Eadie. I was fascinated by her not because she had any situation at all in common with me, but because the reactions she had to the life she found herself in struck me as what I would do in that situation. Although heaven forbid I be stuck with some mortally wounded guy in a Arctic ice storm.
So I guess what I think makes a good book has more to do with how we’re all alike. I can identify with Data the robot on Startrek Next Gen, because he somehow believes he is less than what the people around him are. Who has’t felt that way?
So to me what gives the answer to the question of what makes a good book, is more simple (and harder for a writer to accomplish) than it first appears. A good book makes me feel.