July 21, 2013

What Makes You Like or Dislike a Book?

This post right here is inspired by a post written by the lovely Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner  on 2011. What Makes A Book Good or Bad? Of course, everyone has their own opinion regarding this matter. We all have our own reasons on why we like a certain book (when our friends basically say that book sucks) or why we don't like another book (eventhough TONS of people love to fangirl over it). I would also love to hear your opinions about it!

**the book doesn't need to have all of these points together, though

1) I like the characters
I admit, I'm a bit of character-driven. If the author could make me like the characters, the author could make me like the book. Books with TONS of readers usually have amazing characters! Or, even if they don't, at least they're interesting enough to make us want to know their stories. I love stories with likeable, fun, interesting and relatable characters. A certain character doesn't have to own all these traits, but at least one. I love seeing them develop into a better person and overcome their problems.
(Example of books on this matter: The brave Tris Prior from Divergent, the fun Emaline from The Moon and More)

Books are great when they could make me drowning deep in FEELS. Not just sad, but sad enough to make me sob in the middle of the night. Not just funny, but funny enough to make me roll up into a ball or giggle like a mad girl. I like being emotional while reading a book.
(Example: You want to talk about FEELS? The Fault In Our Stars! If I Stay!)

3) Great World Building
Don't you love it when you could literally feel like you're in Paris with Anna & Etienne? Or being inside a horse-carriage with Laura Ingalls, in the middle of a prairie? Or in Hogwarts, feeling the magic with Harry? Feeling the heat of Australian wilderness with Gemma & Ty? Books with lovely world building that could suck you deep into their world, it's almost as if you could feel yourself being pulled into them. You could feel yourself listening to the conversation among the characters, being there without actually being there. Love it.
(Example of local author: Prisca Primasari. She's so good at describing details of the setting! I've been to Russia, France, and the latest, Japan, through her books <3)

4) Romance, fluff, cuteness, swoony moments
Personally, for me, books with no romance = bleh. Slight or minimal romance is okay, as long as it's there. If the story gets nowhere, at least there's the romance that I could expect to. Exception to this point applied to nonfiction books, though. I love romance!
(Example of book with minimal romance, but I love it: Murakami's 1Q84. While they never actually have direct interaction *in present days*, but Tengo & Aomame are just.... *sigh*)

5) Plot?
I still don't understand what is a good plot or a bad plot, actually. Most of the time, I just depend on my feelings when judging a book. But for me, at least if the turn of events on the story aren't jumbled, the chronogical timeline could be easily understood and the process between conflict-resolution-another conflict-another resolution are clear, then it's okay.

6) The book changes my view on certain things
I love life-changing books. It feels as if a big, dark cloud are being shoo-ed away from your mind, so now your mind's clear. Oh my god, that's so true. Why didn't I realize it before? Or maybe, this is so right. Yes, yes, I totally agree with this book! Or maybe, with no thought at all, but you can sense that your view about certain things in life is being altered. Feels good.
(Example: Every Day, by David Levithan.)

Plus points:

6) Artsy Books
I love when an author filled the blank pages with relatable, good quotes, or things that could spice up the story (song lyrics, pictures, receipts, playlist, doodles, maps, sketch, anything!). Books with gorgeous covers got a plus too. And cute fonts! Cute fonts always makes my day.
(Example: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour with the road trip pictures and cool playlists)

7) Quotable lines
If the books make me want to highlight/quote lots of lines from it, or get swooned away because of its beautiful, breathtaking prose, or simply makes me want to shout:

I heart it.
(Example: John Green is the man. And Tahereh Mafi's books!)

1) The Characters are...
Whiny characters that are either always angry, always bitter or always mournful without a reason. Snarky, witty, sarcastic characters are okay, but if they're also mean, ugh, I already know a lot of people like them in real life, so no thank you.
I also don't like characters who are sex crazed or needs to booze a lot :\ If the book is targeted for adult readers, it's kinda, well... okay, but in YA, that's a big no-no.

2) Mediocre World-Building
In this case, I think I could give an example with a certain author: Ilana Tan. Eventhough I love her books, if its not for the characters' names and the weather, mostly, you could easily change the setting into someplace else and only few will notice. Please describe the situation. How does the main streets of the city looks like from the main character's eyes, how the people reacts to strangers, what do the people do, is there any special dish/events/main attraction of the place? Maybe slip some words in that country's language. Even the name of the place sometimes helps. This scene happened while they're talking in a riverside? What river? While they're hiking a mountain? What mountain? Please describe it, don't just mention it. We want to be there and feel the atmosphere too.

3) Telling, not Showing
This character is blah blah blah, she feels blah blah blah because blah blah blah...

4) I don't feel anything while reading.
Funny scene but I don't feel like laughing? Climax but I don't feel the suspense/anxiety/worry/happiness? Not good, not good. In Kristen Stewart's words: "Cmon, provoke something, anything!" I want to feel the emotions!

5) The author did something bad on the internet
Which is one of many reasons I have never read The Selection/The Elite. Woops When authors respond to negative reviews by being mean... I won't bother to read their works. Or another case: pulling their story from Fanfiction.net, only changing the Edward/Bella name, and publish the book. Getting loads of money from it then boast to other people that it's their original work. No it wasn't a fanfiction before, yadda yadda yadda.Yes it happened in the Fanfiction world, and it was kinda saddening.

And here I state again, sometimes a book I dislike doesn't necessarily have all those points above. I came across a lot of books I like because the storyline was fun, the characters were engaging... But I can't feel the emotions. I don't feel invested in them. So at the end, the book just didn't stand out to me. I like it and I enjoyed it, but I can't say the book was special. This also happened a lot in my case :\

But hey, I'm not here to say that I'm a know-it-all about books, nooooo. These are just my opinion and voice of reasons on what makes me like or dislike a book *sending out peace signs*
I'd love it so much if you're willing to share your opinions with me :D How do you judge a book as good or bad? What makes you like it, what makes you dislike it? Let's talk!


  1. Tiba-tiba aku keinget obrolan sama temen. Mau bikin post sendiri aja, deh. Nanti aku komen lagi. :p

  2. Number 2 THE FEELS! read The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken and your feeling will be ripped into pieces.

    1. I think I've heard the book not a long time ago but haven't got a chance to read what is it about.... thank you anyway, I'll check it out! :)

  3. Hi there, Tirta. Good discussion post. I hope you can bear with me as I'll enumerate what makes me like/dislike a book... Hahaha

    Things That Make Me Like A Book:
    1. Heavily Flawed Characters and yet have a lot of redeeming qualities
    2. Tightly Woven Plot
    3. Original Concept
    4. Should have heart and humor
    5. With unpredictable twists
    6. Writing should be good
    9. Romance that developed over time
    10. Convincing heroines

    Things that make me dislike a book:
    1. Instalove
    2. Co-dependency
    3. Intolerable Infodump
    4. Mary Sue heroines
    5. Douchebag heroes
    6. Plot devices
    7. Sexist/Racist theme
    8. No plot at all
    9. No transition
    10. Doormat characters

    And I could go on and go on but that would be overkill. Hahaha

    1. Hi, Charlotte! Flawed characters with redeeming qualities is the point. A perfect character would make the book boring and unreal. And I can't bear infodump, either, because finding little bits of infos page by page is what actually makes the reading process to be fun, right?
      Thank you for sharing your list with me here! :)


Thank you for reading this post! I always love to share and discuss thoughts about books or simply reading your comments; they are very much appreciated! I will try to reply every one of them so make sure to check back. ❤