I think it’s pretty safe to say that we all read for different reasons. Some people like reading about fantastical worlds and people, while others just like getting lost in the journey. Since we all have different purposes for reading, there are different book characteristics that will make a book “good” to one person, but not to another.
In my experience, I focus on characters. Are they realistic? Do I feel like they’re making choices that make sense? I don’t necessarily have to like the character as long as I feel like they’re well thought-out. The characters just have to feel complete to me. If there are great characters, then I don’t really care about the plot or the writing style as much. In contrast, my husband is all about writing style. Recently, he’s been reading And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner). It’s not a book that I would be particularly interested in reading, but my husband has been loving it because of the writing. While I appreciate beautiful writing, it’s not enough to make me read a book that I know is going to make me feel really sad (I don’t like feeling sad).
I’ve come up with a list of five things that I think readers look at to determine whether or not a book is “good”: Plot, Writing Style, World Building, Importance of Overall Themes, and Characters
Here’s how I would rank them for myself from most important to least (though all somewhat important):
3) World Building
4) Importance of Overall Themes
5) Writing Style
What would be your ranking? What other items would you add to my list of five? What do you find yourself looking for when determining whether a book is “good” or not?