What makes a book good or bad?

imagesImage: Google

They say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and isn’t it rightly said so?

Deciding whether a book, or for that matter, any piece of art, is always relative. It depends on individual tastes. I feel every book has its own individual combination of what makes or breaks it for an individual reader.  For me, in a broader perspective, any book I liked reading is good and the ones I did not like are bad. Simple as that. It actually does not matter much if the author is someone who is well known or he/she has just ventured into writing. It does not matter what genre they fall into. If the book can engage me till the last page, it is good enough, if not a great piece of literature. It does not matter much what others think about it. Yes, opinions of other people do matter for me in trying to find out what the book is all about, but whether it’s good or bad, that is solely my personal opinion. I may sound rude here, but that’s how it is for me.

Having said that, today I am trying to list out the things which does & does not work for me in a book. The bullet points enlisted below are not exhaustive & it is not necessary for all of them to be/not be in a book together. Any one of them or a combination of a few of them is what works/does not work for me.

I like a book if –

  1. It has an interesting title bundled with an apt cover
  2. A great start which will make me continue reading to find out what happens next.
  3. It has good/strong characters which keep me absorbed into the plot. Sometimes strongly built characters manage to keep me hooked in an otherwise ordinary plot.
  4. It makes me think about something or look at things in a new way
  5. It has a relevant message for me which I can connect with as an individual
  6. It has humour, romance – I connect instantly to these two. However, excessive paragraphs involving these without much link to the main plot are also not what I enjoy.
  7. A satisfying ending, happy or not. The end can make me happy or sad or angry but it should make me feel good that I read it till the last word.

I do not like a book if –

  1. If I find myself reading the words but zoning out and daydreaming and not registering the information
  2. If it can’t make me turn the pages even if I try to do so. In this case I will abandon it.
  3. Stupid jokes or out of the context mention of sleazy details or over information on a less significant character
  4. The main plot in spite of being strong gets jumbled up in the maze of words created by the author
  5. Terrible endings. If after reading through 200+ pages, I am shoved with an ending which is far away from what the main story was all about, I would hate it. If an author can’t conclude the story that he/she had built up, it’s sad….a wasted effort. 😦

On a personal note, I choose to read books on different genres & hence have read a variety of books. However, there are also people who stick to a particular genre & are not even remotely interested to try reading anything apart from that. Hence it is the individual reader who, at the end of the day, decides what makes a book good or bad – for, every person is unique.

Toc9t Image – Google

Goodreads have come up with an interesting infographic on the psychology of abandonment. Click on the image below to reach the main page.


I am participating in Write Tribe Festival of Words – 2. This post is under the theme of Day 3 – Books

Day 2 – Food

Day 1 – Memories

vecchio libro con stilografica

Note: You can read more about me and my world of books & everything bookish in My Lil’ Book Corner.


  1. mmm.. I have found books with boring beginnings, read a couple of times upto a page and abandoned, come back as amazing reads… midnight’s children for instance.. and finally it is personal choice… 🙂

  2. That’s quite a nice list of to-haves and not-to-haves that you have put down there. Most of your points match with mine as well when it comes to reading books 😀 Nice post.

  3. I hear ya! I think an interesting start and strong characters really make or break a story. I’ve finished books that I otherwise wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for those reasons.

  4. For me, what makes a good book even more than a great plot is great characters. If the characters seem real, have good and bad attributes, have a problem to solve, and evoke some kind of emotion from me -like, love, dislike, hate, etc.- I won’t read the book no matter how strong the plot.
    Love the info-graphic.

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