What makes a book a good read? #WOYBS

Welcome to another month of WOYBS!

It’s great to have you join us for another month of our What’s On Your Bookshelf Challenge (WOYBS), #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge. I’m happy to co-host this link party with my good friends, SueDonna,  & Jo and enjoy discovering new books to add to my ever increasing pile.

What makes a book a good read?

Last month I talked about when you stop reading a book you’re not enjoying so this month I thought I’d like to hear your thoughts on what makes a book a good book to read or one you can’t put down.

For me, it’s a mix of characters, storyline, plot, setting and even the mood I’m in at the time can play a part in whether I like a book or not. It’s weird but true!

Everyone has their own reasons on why they choose a book in the first place, the cover, the blurb, the author, the hype, but it’s interesting to hear from others what makes a book worth picking up and persevering with it. I’m keen to hear your thoughts.

At my local Bookclub meeting last week, we read a book I’d read last year and rated 5 stars – which means I really liked it. It was one I’d not heard of before but the title and the blurb had me interested before I even opened it.

Why? Because it was set in a men’s prison and my career had been as an Education Manager in a men’s prison for 22 years. Now this book could have failed because of incorrect or salacious content but the author had obviously researched the subject and knew what she was writing about. It was fiction but I could relate to it having spent years in that environment.

I loved the unusual subject – men in prison joining a sewing circle and deciding to make a wedding dress. Not out of the question at all from my experience of arranging courses for inmates, although I’m not sure if I would have supported such a program when I was in charge as we were a working farm and priority was given to courses to support work. The ‘inside’ knowledge was mainly spot on and I was back in my job as I read the book.

But at the discussion last week, a few of the members felt the book was ‘predictable’ and not that well written. Was it only my prior knowledge of the gaol setting that led me to rate it so highly? I didn’t think it was predictable in the slightest and actually found a few things to criticise that shouldn’t have happened procedurally. But it was still a good read to me so I stuck with my 5 star rating while they rated it 3 stars.

If a book is predictable is that a good or bad thing? Sometimes I like knowing or think I know, what is about to happen, and simply enjoy the story unfolding and being wrapped up in a way that makes me happy. Other times it can be annoying!

The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison – My review on Goodreads May 26, 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. From the moment I picked it up in the book shop and read the back I was hooked and had to buy it immediately. I worked in a men’s prison (correctional centre) as a teacher and the Manager of Education programs for over 20 years before being made redundant (along with most of the teachers around the state of NSW), so you can imagine how much of this book resonated with me! The story was fun in places but also showed the life that goes on ‘inside’ with great clarity. It also dealt well with the emotions of the inmate and their family.
The daily goings on, the emotions, the staffing issues, the feelings and the thoughts expressed were just right.
This paragraph particularly spoke to me – ‘I told him he was wrong. I reminded him that learning to read and write allows a man to expand his horizons, develop a trade or gain a qualification. It’s money well spent. As opposed to releasing us back into the community the same way we came in, so we’ll reoffend and end up back in here.’
I could have written that myself as I used to explain it this way to anyone who would listen to me, time after time!
A great read, well written, well researched and very timely.

My thoughts

It leads me to suggest that we are all different – wow what big news!!

What we read, why we choose one book over another, why we continue reading, what compels us to read, how we read, fiction or non-fiction – is all subjective and depends on many things.

I like a book that interests me, keeps me entertained, takes me out of my ‘normal’ world, shows me how others think or see the world and ultimately one that makes me keep turning the pages.

There’s no right or wrong books to read, no right or wrong way to read and that’s why I enjoy my two bookclubs so much. I hear what others have thought of the book, how they’ve felt when reading the book, what they’ve learnt from the book and I in turn learn from them.

I can share my thoughts in a safe environment, knowing I won’t be mocked and will be listened to when I try to explain my thinking. We rarely agree on a rating for the book but we all enjoy the process of reading the same book and coming at it from our own individual perspectives and backgrounds.

That’s why these monthly What’s on Your Bookshelf posts are so much fun, I read what others have enjoyed (or not) and if interested I go and find them to see for myself. Sometimes they hit the mark and other times they don’t but I’ve given it a go and made my own mind up. I really just love reading!

So to answer the question I posed at the beginning of my post, it’s a hard one as we are all individuals and unique so our reading decisions are also unique. Thankfully we are all different, otherwise the world would be a pretty boring place!!

Everyone wants to feel special, but nobody wants to feel different.

Richard Osman, The Bullet that Missed

What have I read lately?

October/November reads

My favourites for the month

My favourite reads of the past month have been Richard Osman’s The Bullet that Missed, Sincerely, Me by Julietta Henderson and listening to Myf Warhurst read her book Time of My Life (a memoir).

They all had something different to keep me interested, whether it was the character Danny in Sincerely, Me, or learning about Myf’s musical life and career or the fun group of elderly citizens in The Bullet that Missed and all they manage to get up to (I love Joyce). I enjoyed the other books I read during the month but these three stand out for me. Have you read any of them?

What I’m reading at the moment

Will you join us?

If you’re into reading, please join us, even if it’s just to leave a comment with what you’ve been reading lately, as I always enjoy seeing what books are being read. We’ve added a linkup (at the end of my post) so you can add your posts directly there and see what others have posted about for the month as well.

Sue, Donna, Jo and I hope that you will join us in this fun series. I love making notes of new books to read as I go through everyone’s posts each month. Do you do that too?

You can read more from my stunning co-hosts here:

Sue from Women Living Well After 50

Donna from Retirement Reflections

Jo from And Anyways

We’re all in this together, sharing our love of reading 🙂

All my WOYBS posts can be found here – we started this series in August 2021 and the good news is that we plan to continue it into 2023!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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Happy reading!

Deb xx

Guidelines for WOYBS:

What: What’s On Your Bookshelf #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge
When: Third Thursday PM (Northern Hemisphere)/ Third Friday AM (Southern Hemisphere). Next linkup: Friday 16 December 2022
Why: Share a love of reading.
Where: Linkup below, Blog, Blog Comments, Instagram or other Social Media.
Who: This linkup is open to everyone.
How: You can share in the comments, with a blog post, or on other social media of your choice. You can use the hashtag #Whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge


You can also find Deb’s World in lots of other places – stay in touch by clicking any of the buttons below.

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45 Replies to “What makes a book a good read? #WOYBS”

  1. For me, a good book has an interesting plot and characters I care about. Those are the only requirements. After that, though, it gets really subjective. As you say, mood can have a lot to do with it. Also what’s happening in my life while I’m reading. And I’ve noticed that the medium–print or audio–can have a huge effect on whether I enjoy a book. Some books just seem better in one medium or the other, and the narrator can be make-or-break for an audiobook.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you Janet, some books are better in one medium and I’m finding it hard to listen to some fiction on Audible. I just can’t get the sense of the book without seeing the words sometimes! What’s going on in my life is also a big issue and can make or break a book.

      Like

  2. I love that about our link up too – how everyone is different and the difference between enjoyment or otherwise is sometimes not the author’s fault. It really be a case of It’s not you, it’s me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Debs – a thought provoking post. I think for a book to be enjoyable for me it has to have an intriguing storyline and relatable characters. I might well dislike some of the characters but that reflects what life is like. An interesting setting is an added bonus. I’m happy to try any genre and style of writing but generally enjoy books that are absorbing whilst easy too read. Thanks for getting me thinking and sharing your reads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janine, I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I didn’t set out to be thought provoking but the more I wrote the more it got me thinking! I also admit to writing my post at the last minute so wasn’t sure where I was going with it!

      Like

  4. Oh I definitely find a book has to have just the right mix o characters, setting, and plot to pull me in make it an excellent read. I tend to like predictable books… in fact I often read ahead; especially if a book gets really suspenseful or I start to fear it’s going to take a turn I am really not going to like.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In terms of what keeps me reading a book, or a series, or what I consider a “good” book, it’s usually the characters and the worldbuilding. The storyline has to catch me, and keep me interested too. I recently read the newest book in one of my favourite series, but the plotline really dragged, and didn’t seem to be going anywhere for most of the book, so I was sorely disappointed. The rest of the series (except one a couple books back. In that case, it was a case of too many vampires and not enough werewolves for my taste) is really awesome.

    To answer your question about whether predictable is good or not, it depends. Too predictable is boring, because if I already know what’s going to happen, why bother? But on the other hand, I read one book a while ago where just when I thought I knew what was going on, there’d be another major plot twist that was completely unexpected, and took the story in a completely different direction, so I never felt I understood the storyline, and it was really frustrating! So… I guess I’m in the middle of the road on this question. I like enough predictability to understand where things are going, but not too much that I feel like there’s no point reading the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my Debbie where has the time gone! I’ll have to see if I can write mine soon! I’m not sure I read much this month.
    A book that keeps me reading is one where I can relate to the characters and I feel I’m watching from the sidelines. I like a plot too one that keeps me guessing. I have read a couple of the books you’ve got listed but will look out for the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting question! I couldn’t answer it right away but when I thought about the books I really enjoyed, there are 3 main themes: believable characters and dialogue; people overcoming terrible situations, and a quirky storyline. They don’t all necessarily come together in the same book.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve just begun reading Tourmaline by Randolph Snow – a set book for my new book club. They receive books monthly chosen by a local library (which is a new experience for me), Australian, set in the future about a ‘dying town because of no water’ and the effect a person found in the nearby desert has on them. My other club is very different- we casually discuss over coffee what each of us has read separately.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really interested in reading Tourmaline Cathy, it sounds good. We also get our books from the library (paying an annual fee) and it’s a good system so we all read the same book, but we get to choose a selection of available books at the start of the year. We never know what we’re getting until the books come in each month. Thanks for your comment.

      Like

  9. I honestly never read reviews! I look at the title and the blurb and make up my mind. I often “grab” titles off of my two librarian friends. I doubt I will do a post this month but I have been reading. I thoroughly enjoyed The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. I would definitely have given it a 5 star rating! Bernie

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah, I’m pretty similar in my choice of reads. I don’t care much about reviews (though occasionally they can be useful); I depend mostly on the title, the cover art, and the blurb on the back of the book. I’ve developed a set of keywords over the years that I look for, consciously or unconsciously, when looking at unfamiliar books. (Can’t think og the list off the top of my head, so won’t add it here.)

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I have favourite authors and genres too, but I’ll read almost anything that looks interesting. Or at least I’ll give it a try. There are only a few genres or sub genres I avoid entirely.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I worked as the Manager of Education for over 22 years before being made redundant by the NSW State Gov in late 2016. It was a rewarding but challenging time.

      Like

  10. For me I look for different things based on the genre I am reading. I do hope to connect with the characters, and that will make for a good read. If I become emotionally invested, that puts it over the top.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Deb, unusually I haven’t read any books that you read in October, but I’m looking forward to reading Myfs book.
    You’ve got me thinking about what makes a good for me. I think much of it for me is mood. I often read in small bites of time but whenever I give large chunks of time to a book, I usually really enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree Deb we are all individuals and of course will have different opinions when it comes to reading. I wrote a comment on Donna’s post that my ratings are based on whether I enjoy the book or not. It doesn’t have to be an award-winning book or the most popular. It does need to have a good plot, characters that are interesting and can be villians :). When I finish a book, I have really enjoyed I don’t want the book to end and if it is a series then I’m in heaven and binge read the whole series! Isn’t it wonderful that we have so many books in the world and that there is no right or wrong books to read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes I’m with you Sue, when I finish some books I feel sad as I’ve bonded with the characters. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, it is such a fun linkup and I always enjoy everyone’s posts a great deal.

      Like

    1. Thanks Barb, your post was great! I enjoyed The Exiles too and she had me thinking that’s for sure. So many books I’ve read lately have been about coercive control of some kind!

      Like

  13. Hi, Debbie – My favourite book club discussions are usually those with the widest range of diverse opinions on a particular book. I always find it fascinating how any given book can be one person’s five-star read and another person’s one-star read. I wholeheartedly agree with you that there is no right or wrong here. When we listen to (and respect) each other’s opinions we have a great opportunity to learn and expand our understanding. To me, this makes the whole reading process even more enjoyable. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Donna, I love discussions on books and you are so right, one person can rate 5stars and another 1 star – no right or wrongs! Respect is something I think is needed in bookclubs and also perspective. Our bookclub is the best I’ve ever been involved in!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post! I just finished listening to The Kite Runner. Yes, I’m a bit behind the times. I had to wait for the audiobook from my library for quite a while. Reading about different cultures is always enlightening (although I realize the book was fictional). Thanks for the book recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

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