What Makes a Book Good?

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. If I have to be inside, then I really need a book in my hands.

I have read hundreds of books, but still have trouble answering what makes a book ‘good’?

My mom and sisters don’t really understand my love for personal development/leadership/self-help/non-fiction works. I occasionally read a popular novel just to have something to talk to them about that doesn’t sound like a lecture. It is not that I dislike novels. I would just rather learn about something I could implement in my own life or in helping others. I enjoy reading for purpose.

I tend to cycle through a series of topics. My husband cringes when I suggest something from a stronger marriage book. This is not because he is against a stronger marriage, but I am often asking him some question that requires feelings. He often volunteers for housework or something else unexpected just to escape what he fears may be coming.

My boys like the parenting books I read (they follow the marriage improvement books in the cycle) if they perceive the book is making me a ‘better/nicer’ mom. If my new mom knowledge will require them to have more responsibility around the house or to treat their brothers better, they will declare it to be a ‘bad’ book.

My staff is usually split when I share the latest research from the book I am reading and how we could implement it in our program. They typically fall into one of two camps. Either they have already purchased the book on Amazon before the end of the staff meeting or they roll their eyes and later talk about how the book may work other places but not for us. Thankfully, the latter group continues to shrink.

I recently read the book, Heartland. It is a memoir about a girl growing up in Kanas in the 80’s. There were so many parts of the book that exactly described my life growing up in Missouri during the same time period and with some similar life experiences. But there were other parts, when the author went into discussions about class, equity, poverty, and politics, which I did not agree with nor think were accurate portrayals of the Midwest. So was it a good book?

I had to land on the positive with this book because it made me think and because I am still thinking about it four books later! I believe it is vital to teach our youth that it is important to read as a way to impact our own behaviors and improve our lives. And that often means we will not agree with everything we read, but should read books which make us think and challenge our own ideas or assumptions.

One thought on “What Makes a Book Good?

  1. Hmmm, you ask a complex question. I like books from which I can learn something – so not dissimilar to your taste. I read a lot of school improvement books, self-improvement books, and books on leadership. I also like historical fiction which I think has supplanted the classic mystery novel as my favorite. WWII books have been a favorite lately. The latest book I read was “Of Windmills and War.” It was good and I bought the second in the trilogy for my Kindle. One thing that makes a book good for me is characters I either like or can relate to. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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