What makes a book special?

July 7, 2009 at 10:20 pm 7 comments

I like posts that get discussions going, so inspired by my last post, here’s a thought: what makes a book interesting for you? I know some people go for the writing style. Lyrical, lush, detailed, plain, simple, straightforward, unique, whatever it is that makes the book speak to them in a certain way. Some are all about the characters. If they feel like they can relate to them, like their lives are reflections of their own, or if they’re complete opposites even, the characters are what make the book real. The plot, obviously, keeps the story moving forward and is essentially the story. I think most people go for a combination of all these things, and more, when choosing a story that they love.

There are always exceptions to this rule too. Some of my favorite books don’t make sense to me. Like the Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale. The main character is quite daft for the first half of the novel, and the writing though beautiful can be a bit overdone and dramatic at times; yet I consider GG to be among my top five books/series/authors. I think that’s mostly because of the connection I feel with the book, and how it was the first novel that actually introduced me to YA literature! And how cool is that? It’s kind of like Ella Enchanted: it will always have a special place in my heart.

My book tastes have personally changed a lot too, as the years have gone on. This past year has been particularly interesting as I’ve grown to love authors like Sarah Dessen and branched out from the fantasy world dramatically. I barely even read fantasy novels anymore it seems.

Writing novels has also seriously given me a new appreciation for books. I read slower, for one thing, and try to relish the book instead of read as many books as I can. I’ve found this to be really lovely. I’m receiving way more from what I read, which I wholly appreciate. I’ve also found that when I read slower and actually enjoy the details, say a fight scene or a romance, I get so much more from the book. I’m able to respond to it more as a reader and understand what I’ve read differently than when I just rush through it. Books like Harry Potter are excellent examples. They’re so rich and lush in details, and reading them time and time again is an enjoyable experience because of that.

So what say you? Books, what makes them special, and your reading styles? 🙂

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Entry filed under: Culture, Personal, Thoughts.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Madison  |  July 8, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Danielle! You blogged! Yay!

    Moving on…I don’t get why I love The Goose Girl so much. I mean, it’s a good book, but it’s not good enough to warrant all this love I bestow upon it. I mean, Ani is so freaking stupid, and it’s annoying, and I agree with you on the writing. It’s gorgeous, but it’s stilted at times. Except…it’s just a magical, magical book. But I do think the later Books of Bayern are a lot better in terms of writing and characters and so forth; I think Shannon finally found Bayern, and everything fits. It’s kind of hard for me to think of The Goose Girl as part of the series because it just seems too…immature, compared to the rest, you know? Not immature-immature, but it’s obviously an early work.

    But I love it. Maybe because it introduced me to Shannon’s books.

    What makes books special to me? Books that I love…They’re books that resonate with me, I guess. Looking For Alaska, A Northern Light, Speak, Enna Burning…But I also love cleverness and witty writing, like the Attolia books.

    What I like to read…Contemporary YA lit is currently something I adore, especially stuff that’s a mix of light and dark. I do love fantasy, always and forever, but I think right now, I’m more likely to pickup a non-fantasy book than not. Unless it’s urban fantasy. Urban fantasy is my current love, and I don’t know why. But when I was younger? I hated fantasy, and I especially did not like urban fantasy.

    As far was were writing works in…I definitely pay a lot of attention to the construction of the book, both in terms of plot, characters, etc and in terms of diction and syntax. I study the words. On the one hand, it’s good because I learn what I like in a story and what I should try to do in my own writing. On the other…sometimes it works against me because it can make it harder to like a book when I’m just picking it apart because it’s just not as good as it pretends to be.

  • 2. erin  |  July 8, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Characters are most important to me. Then a good story, and good writing, too. I dont’ think you can have good characters w/o good writing, though…

  • 3. Q  |  July 8, 2009 at 11:03 am

    If I cannot believe in the characters or if the plot doesn’t have a force behind it, I will not like the story. I’m more tolerant of mediocre writing, as long as it all makes sense. I don’t need detail and description to be happy with a book.

    I read books faster or slower depending on how interested I am and how easy it is for me to read.

    I just finished a critique of a manuscript and that was another reading style, too, because I had to keep stopping and noting typos and sentences that bothered me. I also had to pay a good deal of attention to all that stuff to make sure I caught it all. It was a great experience.

  • 4. Little Willow  |  July 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I read very quickly, and I read an average of one book a day. I read a wide variety of fiction – contemporary, classic, comedic, dramatic, fantasy – and non-fiction that sounds interesting, educational, and/or unique.

  • 5. Maya  |  July 12, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Books that teach me something about life or the way I live it — or books that tell a satisfying story. Books that are real and believable. That’s the kind of “special” I look for.

  • 6. Georgie  |  July 12, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Dunno. I just like to read. Pretty much anything and everything. And it seems that the thicker the book is the more I like it and want to read it.

    And I seem to like to write in incomplete sentences. Or ones that run on incessantly.

  • 7. Jess  |  July 13, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    The best books in the world for me are ones that resonate deeply for whatever reason. I tend to rate books on how they make me feel rather than how they are quality-wise.

    Reading style… Whatever strikes my fancy. 😉

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