The Best Kind of Book
What makes a book good? Like, really good? What takes a story from OK to outstanding? The answer may vary from person to person. Some people rely on solid plotlines to drive their enjoyment of a book. Other readers need thorough character development or imaginative world building to determine that a book is great. For some, good books usually come from a certain genre like historical fiction or thriller.
The point, of course, is that what makes a book good is subjective. Readers have different preferences and tastes. However, the more I think about the myriad differences in books and reading inclinations, the more I'm convinced that there's one thing some books have in common that make them stand out from all the rest.
The best kind of book is a book that gives you something to share.
Reading is largely a solitary pastime, but a solitary reading life can grow lonesome in a hurry. It's the connection we find not only within books, but with other readers that enriches our experience. Think of the joy you feel when you meet a new friend and discover the two of you love the same book! Perhaps you've finished a book recently and couldn't wait to suggest it to your parent or sibling or co-worker. The best books can be shared as recommendations to those we know the best.
As I discussed in my 2021 Reading Goals, this year I'm making an effort to include at least one middle grade or YA novel in my monthly TBR stack. Yes, I'm enjoying the easy reads and picking up some new childhood favorites, but what I really treasure is getting to talk about these books with my children who have also read them. My son couldn't wait to talk to me about The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, for example. We shared our thoughts about this book which had been new to both of us.
My daughter, who recently discovered The Babysitter's Club, was positively shocked and elated to discover I was already well acquainted with Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, Dawn, and the other characters from this popular series that dates to my own childhood. We chatted long after dinner one evening about the personalities of the girls and their adventures in babysitting. We may have different favorite characters, but we share our love for the stories.
It's that love of a story, or even dislike of a certain book, that binds readers together. Book clubs depend on the shared experience of a title to fuel the conversation. Books can teach us lessons that we can in turn share with others. Stories in common can become connection points, even a short hand language, for two readers sharing about their own lives (It's just like when that character did that thing!).
Non-fiction works offer us plenty to share as well. A few interesting facts or amazing anecdotes to share can save awkward small talk. Some knowledge gleaned from books can be just what someone else needs. I remember passing around parenting books and passing along parenting advice within my circle of friends as a young mother.
Speaking of passing along books, giving away books you've enjoyed is a powerful way to share your love of reading. Weeding your shelves from time to time helps to ensure that good stories will be enjoyed over and over again.
What really makes the best kind of book has little to do with the exact details of what happens between the covers. The best books give us something to share with the people around us.
How has sharing books enhanced your reading life? I'd love to hear about it. Until next time, best wishes for further reading!
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