9/05/2014

What defines a good book?

I started reading Eleanor & Park last night at around 9:30pm. By midnight, I was at page 200 and decided to switch to something else so I could fall asleep.

I couldn't. put. it. down.


The thing is, I don't love the book. From the description at Goodreads: 

 Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor
... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Some of the content hits way too close to home. Re-living the horrible days of being mercilessly made fun of on the school bus, among other things from my childhood is not something I like to do on a regular basis, thankyouverymuch. As I was reading it last night, I kept cringing and wanting certain scenes to be over.

But I still couldn't put it down.

I can't wait to finish it. I thought about skipping school this morning just so I can read! I have to see how it ends! Unlike The Goldfinch (link to my review), a book that I wish I hadn't finished, I won't be able to go another day without finishing Eleanor & Park. 

I felt the same way about The Hunger Games . The storyline was disheartening and sad, but again, I read the whole series in a very short amount of time. Couldn't put it down. It was one of the few books I actually bought for my Kindle. (I get most of mine for free.)

Even though THG was a sad story about a dystopian future, it really made me think, you know? (for the record, my spell check is telling me that 'dystopian' isn't a word) In fact a couple of days ago, Mr. N and I were talking about our culture and I was reminded again of something from Hunger Games--that the closer you get to the Capitol, the weirder the people looked. Kind of like Hollywood with all the lip-filled, stretched-faced actresses. Pukatronic.

Point is, that book left an impression on me.


There have been other books where the content really is too much for me to handle and I have to stop reading. One of those was Unravelled. It was my own fault though. It was a free ebook and I didn't read the description before starting the book. Turned out it was about the Holocaust, told from a little girls perspective. No thanks.

As I was telling Mr. N about Eleanor & Park this morning and how unsettling some of it was for me but I had to read "just one more chapter", he said to me, "Makes me think... what makes a good book? Is it that you can't put it down?" Good question, Hunnybunny.

What does define a good book?

Is it that Can't-Put-It-Down factor? Or does it have to have something more for you? I think in order for me to recommend a book, which in my mind, is the ultimate test, it has to have more than the unputdownable quality.

I can't decide. I'm going to have to get back to you.

A few other books that I didn't love but couldn't put down:
- Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty (liked it, didn't love it)
- Thr3e by Ted Dekkar (that book scared the crap outta me!)
- Labor Day (my review on Goodreads) The movie was better.

Books that I both couldn't put down and loved:
- The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias (my review)
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekkar
- Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

Have you ever read a book that you didn't love, but you just couldn't put it down? How do you define "a good book?" How do you decide if you'll recommend a book or not?

P.S. Modern Mrs. Darcy wrote about books she couldn't put down a while back.

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1 comment:

  1. Catie... I did not know you had this lovely blog.

    Great post.

    I knew that I will not be a good candidate for The Goldfinch. And, like you, I read the Hunger Games in a blink. I found the first one for very cheap, a friend lent me the second, and I went to the used book store to buy the third, :)

    The unputdownable quality -I love this term-, is a quality, but there are books I love, and they are so high demanding -of my attention, my thinking ability...-, that it is not as if I cannot put them down. But, if we are talking to novels, I believe the book has to be sort of rapturous, and not even because you want to find out what comes next, but because the writing is so engaging, one wants more.

    And I have The Help and I have not attempted it yet... maybe my next more contemporary novel? -I am considering The English Patient too. I usually read more 'old and very old books, lol', than modern, but I always like a more recent one in my mix.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. It's encouraging!