Why do we read? For fun, of course! To be informed, maybe. To pass an exam. To understand how others live. To impress someone. To pass the time. To stretch your mind. But most of all, for me, I read because I enjoy it.
Which means that I need there to be a lot of enjoyable books out there. I’m absolutely not a fan of what is sometimes called ‘mis-lit’ – the books about how awful life is, how we all need to know how awful other people’s lives are. It’s as though knowing someone has suffered makes the reader a better person. I don’t buy that.
If I want to know about suffering I’ll read the news or non-fiction books. And if I was really a better person, I would be out there volunteering or making a difference, not just reading about how rubbish someone’s life is.
For fiction, I want something enjoyable, which is possibly why I like YA so much. Yes, there is some dystopia, unhappiness, etc, in YA but there is also a lot about facing challenges, solving problems, discovering yourself. Achieving things.
So what does a book need to have to be enjoyable? In my opinion:
- Engaging heroine (and hero if it’s a romance)
- Believable plot with some tension but NOT TOO MUCH. I’m not interested in a book that is just about adventure
- Character development
- A proper ending. Yes, we’ve talked about this before. A book is NOT a good book if it doesn’t have a good ending.
And what books would I recommend that fulfil these criteria? There are, fortunately, many, but I list a few here:
- For a classic I would go for Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle
- For a modern classic you can’t do better than Harry Potter – any or all of the seven
- And my current favourites from the last few years are Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, Struck by Joss Stirling or Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
- And of course anything by the Paisley Piranhas J
And when you’re reading to enjoy, you can’t help picking up all sorts of interesting information and insights at the same time. And you’re not even trying! Result.