Monday, January 21, 2013

What I look for in a good book...

As a writer I asked myself recently, "Emilie, what is it that makes you say - 'that was a good book'?". 

Ok, so maybe I didn't say it to myself quite like that but I have asked why I liked some books and not others.  When you take out the obvious factors - well written, solid plot, relevant conflict - there are just some books I have enjoyed more than others.  Seeing as today is a holiday for me, I've decided to briefly tackle this idea.  I've come up with three books and three reasons (one per book) of why I liked these books.  It isn't a scientific study I'm doing here, just something a little more interesting than blogging about the fact that I cleaned my room this morning, did a lot of reading, and am thinking of eating leftover homemade pizza for lunch...

Reason #1{Happy Ending}

I'll admit right here and now that I am a sucker for happy endings. Very few times have I read a book that doesn't end happily and thought - yes, I'd like to read this again.  It doesn't mean the whole book is bad if it doesn't end happily, but to me reading is a journey and I will allow (haha yes... "allow") the author to take me through a lot of heartache and trouble as long as I know that it's "worth it" in the end.  "Worth it" to me means a happy ending.

"Kissing Adrien" by Siri L. Mitchell has been one of my top favorite books for a long time now (almost 8 years!) and, though the cover isn't my favorite (it's a little bright for me) I love how Siri composed this story.  The main character, Claire, isn't perfect but she is honest!  I read this when I was much younger after having read many Christian romance novels where the protagonist always seemed to be so perfect and I thought to myself, this author has captured something about Christianity and being a girl that is real.  All that to say, I love the ending of this book but I wont ruin it for you.  I'd suggest you pick up a copy for yourself! 

Reason #2 {The Right Lesson}

I cheated on this one... I used a series but it makes my point, so I hope you'll forgive me?  When I read, there are several things that go through my mind when both choosing and enjoying the book I'm in.  I often pick Christian romance books because I enjoy them and because that's the genre I typically write in as well.  I have come across many that have treated the gospel like a vegetable - it's not the favorite part but it's good for you so you just need to get past it an on to the better stuff (like dessert or something).  Not all books are this way, but I have found the best weave an accurate and believable story of redemption into the lines of plot and character that is not forced or unnatural.

Francine Rivers has the gift of writing that is real and filled with history without being dull with the details.  The Mark of the Lion Series has long since been a favorite series of mine.  Francine is the type of author that makes the story about Christ in the lives of her characters with believability.  The emotions and story are so real that you not only become attached to the broken slave girl, Hadassah, because of her life of hardship and forbidden love, but because of her unyielding faith.  In a small way, her faith encourages yours - even if she is a fictional character.  To me, this makes putting any of these books down very difficult.

Reason #3 {Outside the Box}

Lastly, there is nothing better than a book that is original.  I know it's said that there are "no original ideas" under the sun (a bad paraphrase, I know) but there are ideas that are better than others.  These are the ones that take your breath away, hold you riveted to the page, and don't release you until you until the last chapter.

"Thr3e" by Ted Dekker was one of those books for me.  I remember getting to the end and thinking...how is this possible?  Reading for a second, then third time, still didn't lesson the suspense or surprise (even after I knew the ending).  This book was not only well crafted, but it was an idea that isn't typical.  I find those types of ideas, whether for a suspense novel or a romance, to be the best kind. 



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So what do you think?  What makes a book "good" to you?  What don't you like when you're reading a book?  I'd love to hear more opinions on this! Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day :)