DISCUSSION: What makes a book “good”?

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):
1) Characters
2) Plot
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?

15 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: What makes a book “good”?

  1. I think my ranking is 1. Characters 2. writing style 3. world building 4. plot and 5. importance of overall themes. I think I would also add pacing to the list probably it would be 5 and the themes would be pushed down to 6. I think pacing is important in a book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quite true! What I consider to be an amazing read may be considered borin’ by another, merely because of what we prioritize as important in a ‘good book’. I completely agree.
    I think my rating would be:
    1. Characters
    2. Writing Style
    3. Plot
    4. World Building AND Importance of Overall Themes (they’re both equally important to me, I really can’t choose)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this discussion! It’s quite difficult to pinpoint because I think I read quite a variety of books, from trashy books which are just about the fast plot to slow – moving classics where it’s all about the writing and atmosphere. But if I had to choose I think I’d go 1. Characters 2. Plot 3. Writing style 4. World building 5. Overall themes. Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The way I figure out whether a book is ‘good’ or not definitely ultimately stems from how the book makes me feel. Usually I can’t pinpoint what aspect of the novel made me feel so good while reading the book but if it gripped me, made me feel like I would suit everything just to read the book, its good.
    Second of all would be the characters. Characters are crucial for me and need to be written well. I want to be able to connect to my characters, whether i am cheering them on or totally despising them (if they are the antagonist) my feelings need to be strong and genuine.
    Everything else basically comes in next but I don’t have a big deal with them. Great post! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 1) Writing Style
    2) Characters
    3) Plot
    4) World Building
    5) Importance of overall themes.

    There’s a but. Sometimes the book just has to click me. Sometimes I can’t figure out why I like the book even if it’s just objectively decent. So this is not an absolute list.
    Great post idea btw.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. (I hate this new commenting via reader layout–clicked outside of it and it ate my comment so this is the third go around typing this out LOL.)

    But anyways, I think rating the merit of a “good” book (based on your metrics) depends on the story being told. How can you rank importance of world-building for a contemporary read set in some dingy, backwater town? I mean…it’s possible that setting a realisic tone (re: setting) is part of that world “building” process I guess but it’s not on the same caliber as reading into epic fantasies.

    So it’s all in moderation and differs per umbrella genre. Although, given the context of writing style, characters and narration, and thematic appeal, those are some (of many, I’m sure) criterion that remain important regardless of what you choose. But then again, the only judge is you.

    The thing about writing style is that I can completely buy into flowery, purple prose-ish, metaphorical, overly descriptive writing in one book but completely hate it in another. It’s a weird kind of hypocrisy but it might be linked to how their penmanship links with all the other aspects of the book.

    That being said, a good book doesn’t necessarily mean one that’s “well written” either. I’ve liked books that were terribly written but it was an enjoyable experience (and vice versa, really). It’s really what you take (or what you want to take) out of the read that should matter in the end.

    tl;dr — vomit vomit vomit.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with everything you just said. After writing my post and reading a few of the other comments, I did start to realize that even if you have certain things that you tend to be drawn too, there’s no hard fast rule about what you like in books, even for the same person. It definitely depends on what genre you’re reading, what mood you’re in, or even what things are happening to you in your life outside of books. It really all depends haha. Thanks for the comment!


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