Recipe for a Good Read
Thomas Helm once said, “My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.” Though there are millions of books on the market, to be hailed as a good read a book has to possess four essential qualities: it must capture the reader’s attention early, keep him or her interested continuously, contain a unique plot, and have easily relatable themes.
In order to give a book the honor of being not just a book, but a good book, it first must have a booming beginning; within the first few chapters, sometimes even the first few pages, the reader must feel an almost desperate eagerness to continue reading. In the novel Wuthering Heights, Bronte ensnares the reader in her fantastical web when she introduces the rude, mysterious, brooding landlord, Heathcliff, then provides no apparent justification for this behavior. The reader is left wondering why he acts so abominably to a perfect stranger, what events in his life had led him to such a state, and why he is so aloof and severe. Bronte’s stunning opening is part of what makes Wuthering Heights a spectacular book.
The beginning isn’t the only thing that needs to be interesting, however; once the author has cleared that hurtle, he or she is on to the next one, which is to keep the reader enthralled. Books that put the reader to sleep are the ones that are forgotten, but books that contain a certain ‘shock factor’, often remain imprinted in their memory for a long time. Jeffery Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides contains exactly that. There is never a dull moment; the reader is constantly bombarded by shocking, disturbing, frightening, or intriguing events, images, and dialogue. The Virgin Suicides has both a great start and a continuously hypnotic story until the very end, making it an undeniably good read.
If a book has the ability to gain and hold one’s interest, some would say that that ability is sufficient; however, a book must also contain a unique and incomparable plot. In the...