Friday, 24 May 2013

What makes a good book?

Books

There are a gazillion rules for writing and then there are no rules. Things that are a definite no-no turn out to be the foundations of a best-seller. And then the same things written with a different voice might just be the downfall. So what does make a great book?
This is kind of like the question about the chicken crossing the road. A hundred different people would give a hundred different answers and then the 101th person would turn up and ask, "So why did the chicken cross the road?"

I just finished reading the Kite Runner. At the beginning I was detached. Who would like a MC who can't stand up for himself? Who is envious of a loyal friend? By the last page I was marvelling at myself for actually rooting for Amir-the protagonist. He was flawed. He made all the wrong choices. He was a coward. BUT. He was frustratingly real. And that is what I think made the book rock. If I would have attempted a similar story, I'm pretty sure I would have messed up withing the first two lines itself. (Side note: The opening lines are surreal!)

The thing about great books is that they don't throw you in a different dimension, completely ripping the fabric of your own existence; they lull you into an alternate reality. The best ones make you forget about time and space. One minute you flick to chapter one, the next you're gazing at the last page contemplating how hours flew by unnoticed. And then there is disorientation. You walk out of the room/library/coffee shop and realise that life is going on as usual; that people are scampering here and there completely oblivious to the gem in your bag. It's a strange feeling, that numbness... As if you have just bid adieu to a best friend. You stare at the cover for minutes and then shake your head in disbelief, or maybe smile to yourself. And then days or even weeks after this escapade you pick up the book from your shelf and lose yourself all over again.
Those are the books I love to read.
Those are the books I dream to write someday.

8 comments:

  1. kite runner is a great book....more so because it focuses on reality as opposed to the fiction and surreal world that some books depict...
    khaled hosseini...a writer that depicts reality through his words...i get the feeling that he wants to depict what life in afganistan really is like...
    a suggestion- A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is another one of his masterpieces again based in afganistan...try it. i am sure u'll love it

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    1. I did read 'A thousand Splendid Suns'. I put the kite runner on hold for about four years because of an unfortunate encounter with a spoiler. I couldn't get myself to read it because I already knew the end. But now that I have, it feels I should have done so long time back,

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  2. I LOVE flawed protagonists. That's what I'm focusing on right now. It seems I'm happy to inflict my secondary characters will all kinds of issues, but the protagonist? I'm cradling the poor creature and expecting people to love him/her as much as I do. Silly, right?

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    1. Silly? Yes. But I think we all have a soft corner for the MCs. ;)

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  3. The million-dollar question.

    I hope you get to write your book someday. And I totally agree: a reason why I loved The Kite Runner so much was how realistic the main character was.

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    1. Exactly. At times he made me want to throw the book away in frustration but then he was just being himself.

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  4. Great post. Like Crystal, I also like flawed protagonists.

    I wanted to drop by and thank you for the Blog Blitz last Monday. I appreciate your comment!

    Have a happy weekend. ☺

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