I recently read a post by Puput from Sparkling Letters about the struggle of writing a coherent positive review. She explained how it’s easier to nitpick things we don’t like in a book than explain why we love another. At one point she wrote:
I mean, why do we love something? We just… do.
It got me thinking about my favorite books and if there was some type of pattern to them that would reveal why exactly I love them. I realized that although they differ greatly in genre, plot, characters, and so forth, there’s three things that they all have in common:
1. They were extremely difficult to put down.
It didn’t matter if I had to eat, sleep, use the bathroom, had a crap ton of homework, or chores. Physiologic needs? Responsibilities? They could wait. I needed to know what was going to happen right then.
2. When I finally managed to put them down, they were all I could think about.
The books would creep into my thoughts and dreams and I found myself obsessing over them. This usually resulted in me babbling about them to whoever would listen.
3. They were emotionally draining / They gave me a major book hangover.
I know this one sounds like a bad thing, but let me explain why it isn’t. All my favorite books gave me intense feelings of happiness, sadness, or both to which I reacted to by crying. I don’t like crying, but I respected that they were powerful enough to make me do so. As my good friend would say, “Emotional cleansing is nice every once in a while.”
Without realizing it, this is the standard I have been holding all of the books I read to. While I’ve consciously been searching for a book that will become a new favorite, I’ve subconsciously been hoping that the next book I pick up will be the one that I read in one sitting, tell all my friends about, and have enough effect on me to make me cry. If a book managed to fit all those criteria, I think it deserves its spot as a favorite.