I’m in a Dutch YA group on Facebook. A while back, instead of asking what book everyone thought was best, this person asked about the worst. Someone left a comment saying good and bad is different for each reader, and I agree. Since then, I actually started thinking about it a lot. What are the definitions of good and bad when it comes to reading? Short answer: there is no real definition!
When you read, you imagine what the main character looks like, what he or she is like as a person, you imagine this world that the author build for you… Basically, you imagine a whole bunch of things while you read. Everyone imagines these things differently. No one will imagine things the same way. When it comes to characters, I personally forget about characteristics most of the time. There could be a full description of the main character in the first chapter of a book and at the end I could have a completely different picture of said character, just because I forget and make up something else.
There’s also an aspect of interest. Books have different genres for a reason: they all focus on something else. (Or at least I like to think that’s why we have genres.) Fantasy and contemporary, for example, are two completely different things. I’m really into fantasy and every time I feel like getting myself a contemporary read, I end up getting anther fantasy book. They just don’t interest me enough to spend money on or to invest my time in.
Feelings & Emotions
Obviously, people have feelings. Feelings influence the way we feel about things. The way we feel when we read a book influences our opinion, whether we want it to or not. Of course, a book also influences how we feel. Oh my, we can get a serious case of the feels while we read. Emotions and feelings are things we have no control over, but they influence the things we do and the way we see things.
Do you see a pattern yet? Imagination, interests and emotions are all personal things! They’re different for everyone! This is exactly why you can’t put a definition to good or bad when it comes to books and reading. Person A might think Book 1 is amazing while person B can’t even finish book 1. Does this mean the book is by definition good or bad? Nope! Not at all. Person A and B both think Book 2 is wonderful. Is the Book 2 by definition good? Nope! There are tons of other people with different opinions.
Reviews & Ratings
Does this mean rating a book is useless? Oh, hell no! We should rate our books! And review them! I think reviews are what make ratings count. If I find a book on Goodreads with a three-star rating, there’s a big chance I’ll read some reviews – both high and low – so I can think about it and consider reading the book. A book’s rating is different for everyone. Some people are totally okay with reading two-star books, because they enjoy them and love them as if they’re a five-star book. Others won’t read anything under four stars… People are different, we think about things in different ways. A person can add a definition to good and bad, but another person will probably define it in a different way.