G is for Great Read

Now everyone has different taste in books, but every reader has a set of criteria that sets a book apart as a great read. My great reads very widely to include something from every genre and age group. My criteria change based on the book itself, why I picked it up, and what group it was written for.

In books intended for children and teens I generally look for a great story that transcends the age group and can be enjoyed by everyone. I have heard far too many people say that it must be easy to write picture books, longer books for children and even teens. It is not nearly as easy as one might think. Start trying to write a picture book- you need a story that can be told in around thirty pages with only a sentence or two per page. But the story needs to be entertaining, unique, using words and concepts assessable to all ages without being condescending and must sound good when read silently or aloud. Then you either need to do the illustrations or have someone else do them for you, and they not only need to expand on the story but they need to somehow match your vision for the story. In books for older children and teens there is the same challenge entertaining without crossing lines that would make the book inappropriate for the intended age group. With any book older children and adults should be just as able to enjoy the story, and possibly learn something, as the target age group. None of this is easy to achieve, and when I find a book that manages to do all of that I consider it a great read, even if it has very few words.

With adult novels the challenge of appealing to all age groups has faded, but that does not necessarily make writing well easier. In this area what makes a great read, at least for me, often depends on why I read the book to begin with. Sometimes I like a quick, easy read, while other times I am more intend on challenging myself and exploring new ideas. Regardless, I find that a great read is one I can get lost in. A story that I can become immersed in and feel like I really know the characters. This requirement can be met in just about any genre, and has been. I have read some romance novels that I think about long after I have finished the book, even if it was a easy, fun read because of the characters and writing.

Sometimes I like to pick a random book of the library shelf and see where it might take me. I do not read the jacket, do not look at the author. I just pick and random aisle and pick a book. The first time I did this I was in high school and I ended up with The Power of One, which has since been made into a movie. I was historical fiction, based on a true story, and completely outside the norm of what I was reading at the time. However, I loved the book and was a better person for having read it. That made the book a great read as far as I am concerned. The fact that I can still picture the cover, and can actually remember the name at this point should show that it had an impact on me.

What makes something a great read for you?
Post a Comment