Monday, September 22, 2008

What Makes a Book Good?

What are the criteria that makes a book good? Contrary to supporters of the so called Great Books, I believe that a book is good if it meets you where you are, speaks to you and helps you reflect on life's journey. Each of us brings a different self and set of life experiences to every book we read. I am fascinated from the Book Group I belong to, how each of us can read the same book, and have such different reactions and interpretations. Sure we have many points of connection, but what is surprizing are the points of divergence. We read an excellent book by Maurice Gee an eminent New Zealand author. The Book Called Ellie and the Shadowman (2000)was a great read, but one of our number completely missed the lesbian relationship between two of the book's minor characters. Because I had grown up and studied in two of the locations in the book, I had an added insight into some parts of the story that the others lacked. Still, we all agreed that it was a top book. Sometimes I wonder whether it is even possible to read the same book either as a group or individually. One of my friends was telling me that when he started his PhD at Glasgow that one of the students who was just about to finish his doctorate said, "Graham Greene should have an R30 sticker on his books. No one under 30 could ever understand him". My friend was offended, but now that he is past 30 himself, he now concedes the statement was correct. Happy Reading DK First published on Qassia
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