We’ve all experienced this: an upcoming book gets a lot of attention and hype, and we’re looking forward to reading it, only to discover that it doesn’t live up to the advertisements.
After such a book has been read–or read partially, in my case–it either sits on the shelf, gets resold, donated, or tossed in the trash.
So what qualities make a book one that gets read over and over again, such as classics like Pride and Prejudice and the “Yellow Golden Books”?
As someone who’s favorite subject in school was English, and who constantly has to buy a book when at the store, these are the things that make it or break it for me:
QUALITIES OF A GREAT BOOK
- Cover art is simple yet catchy
- Characters are relatable
- Grammar is correct
- Clear theme or moral to learn as the reader
- Emotional bond to the characters and book’s world
Because of my simple yet hefty list of qualities in a book, these are the few titles that get reread over and over again “in my book”.
1. Elsie’s Endless Wait, by Martha Finley
It doesn’t surprise my family that I named my daughter Elsie, after Martha Finley’s Elsie Dinsmore. The modern prints of the 19th century series has been my best friend since middle school.
I fell in love with the young heroine because, although I live in a separate era, I felt I was Elsie herself. The shy, meek little girl who seeks guidance, love, and support through God made me love not only her but myself. She also introduced me to the Lord and taught me that I am never truly alone, even though I may feel so.
My immediate and forever attachment to the heroine has made this book my top title to reread, and I will read it to my own Elsie one day.
2. Requiem for a Princess, by Ruth M. Arthur
I discovered this book in 6th grade, when the only fun place my parents would take us to was the library. My local library at that time had just a small collection of books, and this 1960s title was still circulating. Sadly the book has been removed since then, but my husband bought me an eBay copy for my birthday.
What drew me to Requiem for a Princess was the fact that there was no physical antagonist. When I told this to my big sister, she went, “Then that’s not a book. Every book has a bad guy.”
Well, the fact that this book was published, and there are still readers of Arthur’s works today, means it IS a book. And this book taught me that the “bad guy” can also be the main character. This is known as “Man vs Self” conflict. This is when the hero of the story is fighting an internal battle with themself, not an external one with someone else.
I was hooked since then.
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by JK Rowling
Book 3 makes it to number 3. I didn’t name book 1 in the Harry Potter series because that book took me two years to break into the wizarding world of the author. It was book 3, …Prisoner…, that made me a Pohead.
Why? Because Harry finally has the family he’d always dreamed of (or so he thought.) I related all too well to Harry, in the fact that, being the scapegoat of my biological family, I always wanted to be part of a different family. But like Harry, I can dream but I’m spending summer break and holidays with people who barely recognize my existence.
Oh if only I had gone to school at Hogwarts as well. Being an amateur writer, I have worlds in my head that I like to escape to. Rowling’s wizarding world sounds like a fantastic place to be as well (aside from the dangers of having killers on the loose.)
4. Seeking Persephone, by Sarah M. Eden
When it comes to romance novels, I only read two types: historical and paranormal (specifically about vampires.) Why historical romance though? Because I was born into the wrong era. However, if I were to have been born earlier, into say Victorian/Edwardian America, I would have been a laborer’s wife. No big mansion, ball gowns, or balls to attend. So maybe it’s a good thing I was born into today’s world because I can be a working woman, wife, and mother.
The reason I love Eden’s Seeking Persephone is that I can relate to both the hero and the heroine. The hero is a hard shell with a soft, vulnerable interior, while the heroine is a hopeful soul who sacrifices her own happiness for her family. I can definitely say I have the same character traits.
Seeking Persephone is the first installment of Eden’s soft romance series, and I have read more of her other works and love those characters as well.
5. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code became a favorite of mine in high school. It was recommended by one of my English teachers, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve read it multiple times since then.
What drew me to the book was the immense amount of information the author poured into his writing, as he made all the action take place in such a short period of time. As the audience member, and an amateur writer, I was blown away by the fact that one could do such a thing. It was like magic. But with pen and paper.
(The setting was also a plus for me because I was learning French at the time and looking forward to going to France, which I did my senior year.)
These titles, and more, are very dear to me and get reread time and time again. I’m drawn to the cover art, the characters are very relatable, grammar is a must, I’ve taken away so much in learning from each, and I have bonded with the characters for many years now.
I hope you’ll give some of these books a read through, as I highly recommend each. But most importantly, I hope you’ll find books you’ll never want to get rid of, just like me.
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