Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Makes a Good Book Good?

Two great tastes

Never mind.

I just read two really awesome books that couldn't be more different. One is a cute teen romance, and the other is The Future of Us. Haha... is it wrong that I amuse myself so easily?

Anyway, The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler is the incredibly fun story of Emma and Josh, two teenagers in 1996 who get on the internet for the first time. They find their future selves' facebook pages and do their best to manipulate their futures with their actions in the present. I was especially drawn to this book because I was 17 in 1996 and utterly fascinated with the internet. I had exactly one friend with a computer and access to AOL. I remember the days when getting an instant message was mesmerizing. I cannot stress enough just how much fun this book was. I wonder if teens who have never known life without the internet would understand the sheer funitude of this book. 

A person can wet their pants from either glee or fear.
World War Z by Max Brooks is the exact opposite of fun. World War Z is a series of "first person" accounts from survivors of the zombie apocalypse, from political and military personnel to every day civilians all around the world. Each nation dealt with Zach in a different way - all of them terrifying. This is one of the most horrifying books I have ever read, not because of the gore (because there really wasn't much), but because of the realer than real accounts of how nations and individuals dealt with such an improbable and seemingly impossible to overcome scenario. Abandonment, betrayal, genocide, cannibalism... it's all covered. World War Z gave me nightmares. And yet, I read it over the course of two days and devoured every page. Max Brooks is now one of my favorite authors, and I bow to his genius.

Hahahahahaha! I just googled 'black metal kittens'!
And this got me wondering how there could be enough room in one person to love two books that are so very, very different. I've always had bi-polar tastes. I love kittens and have a Metallica tattoo. I listen to Rammstein while I sew. My two favorite film makers are Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino. But, does a person have to swing from one end of the taste spectrum to the other in order to appreciate vast differences?

Oh my god, I'm going to be up all night looking at the results...
Each novel evoked such different feelings. But I felt deeply satisfied after reading both. I can only compare this to the feeling of catharsis one gets after a really good cry or a really good laugh. It's more fun to laugh, but having one or the other gives me the same sort of cleansed feeling when it's all over. 

*pees pants*

So, I'll take it to you guys. What makes a good book good? What sort of eclectic tastes do you have? Have you ever been surprised by how much you've liked something because it didn't seem to fit with your perceived personal tastes?


  1. Mar tells me all the time I like just about everything. Probably why I'm terrible at reviews. People seem to find my wide spread of tastes weird. Oh, and I so want a Ride The Lightning cat shirt :)

    1. I am too picky and that causes reading enjoyment problems. I would also wear the hell out of that shirt.