There are several things that I believe will either make or break a book with tiny variations along the way being the only difference between a good book and one that is awesome. Or… along the other spectrum, awful.
I categorize books based mainly on whether or not I’d be willing to spend the money on the book, or as is most often the case as I read the majority of books from the library, if it is worth re-reading (which that list has become incredibly narrow as of late). This type of book is one that I will read multiple times, has such great content that I find myself so absorbed in the story that I’m so disappointed when the book is over because I want more. These are the books that are in my all time favorites list. There is a big divide between this level and the next because there just aren’t many at all that will land in the top.
The next level is where a book is really good; excellent story/characters/world, but isn’t quite unique or special enough for me to want to take the time out of reading new material to want to read it again. It would definitely be something I’d recommend to others if asked.
Editing is something of a peeve of mine and can actually make the difference between a good/mid-level book and a great book. For me, if the story is excellent and I’m reading along and there is a glaring editing mistake, it trips me up. I have to stop, usually re-read to try and figure out what was actually meant before I can move on. This disrupts the flow of a book and bugs me to no end. I don’t always know if those great books are just exceptionally well edited or if the story is just so amazing my mind skims over whatever mistakes are there, but the times it is noticeable can really effect where I place a book on my good/bad scale.
There will always be that mid-level book that is okay, but to me seems like a replay of every other storyline out there. It may have mostly decent writing, but often one major aspect seems weak or not well thought out or fully developed. I wouldn’t consider them a waste of time, but are right there on the border. Cookie cutter writers eventually fall into this category, no matter how much I may have liked the first book or so. There are only so many times you can read the same story with only slightly different characters/scenarios before it gets really old. This level also covers books that just weren’t for me, now matter how well written they may have been.
The last group of books are those that I seriously question every single person involved in the process because that book was BAD. Bad story, horrid characters, no way was there any editing involved, or any combination of those things. An awful lot of times, these are the books that I may get a few chapters into and cannot force myself to attempt to plow through another sentence and are absolute and total garbage.
It may seem that there is a huge gap between those last two, but there really isn’t. Most books that I’m not a huge fan of will fall in that second to last group. Just because I don’t necessarily like or enjoy it doesn’t make it a bad book.
I guess if I had to put a label or name on those levels, they would be Excellent/Favorite, Really Good, Mediocre/Didn’t Like, Garbage. Though I really hate using the last term for that label as I don’t like to slam anyone, but there really just isn’t a nice way of saying it when a book is actually that bad.