Books. (Unsplash)

Books. (Unsplash)

LIBRARY: Who decides what makes a good book?

Agassiz librarian Sharie Hertzog shares what she thinks makes a good book in her latest column

By Sharie Hertzog

What is a good book? That is the question.

If you look on the internet and Google “Good Book,” the results will be enormous.

There are the lists of classics, books everyone should read before they die, award winners, top novelists and bestsellers of the year. Are these all good books?

Should a good book be well written, character-driven, plot-driven, relatable, critically reviewed, have perfect grammar? In my humble opinion: no!

There is only one question you need to ask to know whether a book is good. Did you like it?

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If you enjoyed a book, then it is good! When we read for pleasure, it should not matter what others say about what we are reading.

I liken a good book to a glass of wine. The cost of the bottle doesn’t matter: if you don’t like it, then it is not good.

I once had a flute of Dom Perignon champagne. Wow was that gross! To others it was a fantastic champagne, but to me it was just not good.

Just the same, I read a book that was highly acclaimed, well recommended and an award winner. I had a similar reaction. Wow, this is to someone else’s taste? This book was just not the type of novel that I enjoyed.

You might ask, what do I like to read?

Currently I have a favourite picture book, I Really Want the Cake, by Simon Philip and illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti.

I Really want the Cake resonates with me. A little girl enters a room and there is smell she can’t ignore. In the kitchen is a beautiful cake she cannot eat. I can relate to her struggles trying to ignore the cake all the while drooling with a fork and spoon at the ready in her gun holster. The pictures and words are a laugh out loud read.

If you are looking for a good book, one that is good for you, here are some questions you need to ask. What do I like to read? What am I looking for in a story? What is the last book I read that I really liked? What do I feel like reading?

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Only the reader can answer these questions. From there we, the library staff, can help you find something you might enjoy.

For example, if you like western novels and you have read almost all the library has to offer, you might want to try some non-fiction stories about cowboys, settlers and pioneers, such as the trilogy by Richard P. Hobson: Grass Beyond the Mountains, Rancher Takes a Wife, and Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy.

This is a story of a cattle rancher in the Chilcotin during the early 20th century and the trials of ranching the uncharted British Columbia Interior. You might also want to try the new title The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James, by Daniel J. & Teresa F. Duke. I believe the title speaks for itself.

Whatever you like to read, there is always a way to find you another good book.

The Fraser Valley Regional Library catalogue available online has multiple links to book suggestions, and a whole section dedicated to helping you find your next read.

The Reading Room on our website will connect you to a personal reading advisor, or you can listen to podcasts about books that you might like. You can also sign up to Next Reads newsletters to receive monthly suggestions to books that you may enjoy.

And, of course, your friendly library staff are always ready to help with a hunt for the next great read.

Sit back, relax and enjoy what YOU like to read.

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