Good books abound. They’re all over the place, scattered thither and yon like leaves in the fall. Writing a good book is hard work; it’s a long slog through drafts, edits, revisions, and cutting. But writing a good book isn’t an esoteric process, carefully guarded by some mysterious order of monks for thousands of years. (and we writers aren’t Indiana Jones, though some of us think we are) Good books come from perseverance and practice, not magical incantations.
But you won’t ever find a writer who wants to write a ‘good’ book. That would be like finding a Olympic contender who’s only aiming for Bronze. Writers are all aiming for the “great” book.
A great book isn’t necessarily a New York Times bestseller or one that sells a million copies. It’s doesn’t have to be made into a movie or garner its author a series deal with a big publishing house. Sometimes they never even make it to a second edition printing.
Great books take work. Not just from the writer, but from the reader. Easy reading never made for a great book. Obvious, flashy content isn’t the stuff that makes up a great book. When you open one up and start reading, it might not grab your attention and shake it around like a terrier with a rat, but you won’t be able to stop. More importantly, you won’t be able to stop the second, third, and fourth times you read it. New layers wear through the old ones every time, making you wonder how you never thought about “that” before.
Even after you turn the last page and close the covers, you’ll catch yourself quoting a line from a great book, or smiling when you remember a clever turn of phrase. And it won’t be clever just to be clever: it’ll make the whole book make sense, even though it made sense before, too. Great books stay on your shelf for years, decades, gathering dust, because you’ll need them again someday. They aren’t forgotten, they’re just waiting, because a great book lasts and means more every time you read it.
Great books don’t “grow with you”, because they’re already everything they need to be. They’re just waiting for for you to catch up, like an old friend who knows every step of the road you haven’t traveled yet and is in no hurry to get there before you, because that’s not the point.
Here’s to truly great books.