We all have our favorites, those books that are never far from our night stands. They are the worn and comfortable books that we keep coming back to year after year, like an old friend. What is it about those books that hold our attention even after the surprises are gone?
Everyone has different things that they look for in a great book. For some, the story comes first above all else. For others it might be a strong romantic connection between the characters. As a writer it is important for me to recognize what makes different books great so that while writing my own I can bring all the good parts together and create a story that will resonate with readers.
For me, the most important element of a book are its characters. Not only must they be well-written and well-rounded, they must have something about them that I find fascinating. For some characters this might be a great back story, for others it might be a problem they must overcome. In the end, I must care about what happens to these people and I must want to know more about them.
The story comes in close second. A great story has the power to captivate and hold my attention. It is hard to put down and even when I’m not reading I’ll think about it. For it to do that it must be meaningful. The characters must have real stakes against them and something either very painful or very personal to lose.
The more I read the more I realize how important it is for a book to have beautiful prose. I want to be able to fall into a lush weaving of words, not just read a story. There are few authors that have mastered this skill. Sue Monk Kidd is one of my favorite authors just because her prose is beautiful.
Last but not least is creativity. In fantasy writing I want to be amazed by what worlds the author can create and what magic lies in them. In standard literature I want to be surprised at solutions to problems and at twists in the plot. All books are a result of creativity, however some have the power to grab my imagination better than others.
How about you dear reader? What do you look for in the perfect book? Share your thoughts below!