Hello! My name is Elizabeth, and I love reading a good book.
What makes a good book? That’s certainly a question I can go on and on about.
It normally all starts with the cover. The cover doesn’t really influence how I read the book, or whether I like it, but it nearly controls whether I pick it up or not. If the cover is tasteful, aesthetically pleasing, or features things I enjoy reading about, then I pick up the book and at least read the summary. The same applies to manga and anime as well — if the art is not my taste, no matter how good the plot is or how relatable the characters are, I simply can’t read/watch it.
Characters: well, I do like nuance in a personality, of course. I love looking into weaknesses and normal people, and developing that as far as it can go. Some characters I’ve loved are Kate and Linay from Plain Kate, Jena from Wildwood Dancing, Flora from Flora Segunda, and Sabriel from Sabriel.
On the other hand, I absolutely hate characters who are essentially indecisive. I’m not talking about the momentary doubt, I’m talking about characters whose defining feature is their doubt. There are many other things that can make me despise a character, but most of the time, if a book contains an awful character, I will throw the book away as far as I can, and run.
Settings I’ve loved are most notably fantasy. Settings in the real world tend not to stand out to me, as, well, they’re in the real world. There’s not much I notice that’s outstanding.
I do like dystopias, but not enough to forgive a terrible book. Take Starters, for example: it had a dystopia, and it was even a rather good dystopia! But I hated the plot and characters, so I hated the book. That’s probably too negative an example, but I hope it illustrates my point.
I love original settings. I love it when authors make up their own world and don’t just borrow off another book they’ve read or make it borderline fantasy-real world. I want them to make up their own animals, their own magic system, and their own maps.
Plots: On plots, I have recently become more picky about the plots of my book – before, I would be satisfied with a sub-par, slow plot — now, my tolerance levels are low (since my time is more limited), and if a book is too slow in the beginning, or if its plot twists are clichÃ©, it’s very likely that I will drop the book and stop reading it.
E-Reading: I have used e-readers before, including my Android phone, through Google Books, and a Kindle. I see the benefits of using e-readers, as I can immediately read any book I want, and it’s wonderfully convenient and portable. However, I still prefer reading physical books. The smell of new books is irreplaceable, and they never run out of batteries! My goal is to find some happy balance between the two someday.
I’d like to call myself the creative type, and I love to draw, and I’ve already made plans to make comics of my favorite books! Expect some manga-style pages on Flora Segunda, Plain Kate, and other books I deem fabulous.
What do you think makes a good book?
— Elizabeth Z., 12th grade, currently reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell