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Frequent Contributor
EinsteinPD
Posts: 235
Registered: ‎05-08-2012
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What makes a book great?

    Hello all. I have thought about this question for a long time, and very briefly state what I have come up with about it. Be assured I do NOT think my ideas on this are necessarily correct, and I am very interested in learning what others have to say about this question. Please reply.

    The term "bestseller" is often used to indicate a (very) successful book. But the willingness of many people to (temporarily) buy a book depends on several factors, including promotion and timing. So I suggest sizable sales is not a sufficient condition for greatness.

    Literature's function is to entertain, and to improve by educating. I suggest that as one moves away from good reads towards great literature, entertainment becomes less, and rducating more important. The world's most successful book is commonly considered to be the Bible. Gutenberg selected it to be the first book he printed. It has sold many more copies, been translated into more languages, and been considered to be of greater importance by many, than any other book, and all for a much longer time.

    The Bible can be quite interesting to read, but its enduring importance lies in what it says regarding the most basic questions that humans have; what does right conduct consist of, what must a person do to have a truly successful life, etc.

    I suggest that the Bible's greatness as a book is due to its enduring ability to answer important questions, that is to educate regarding them. And therefore by analogy, I suggest that a great book must satisfy generation after generation with what it says, in the way it says it.

    In closing for now, I suggest that a book's greatness can only begin to be evaluated over several generations of time, and the more time the better. No matter how successful a book may seem, if it is quickly forgotten, it is not great. Great books answer important/great questions, in ways that remain important over long times. Based on this,  the possible greatness of any contemporary book cannot be evaluated. It simply is not possible.

    Your replies are invited.

Distinguished Correspondent
Catherine111
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎04-30-2012
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Re: What makes a book great?

For me a "great" book usually boils down to universal themes (good and evil, coming of age, etc), that transcend time, with characters that most people can relate to.

 

I’m not sure I totally agree that it takes generations of time to judge a book, maybe a few decades. There have been a lot of great books written in the 20th century like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, 1984, East of Eden, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc.  I don’t think any of these books will become less great with the passing of time. 

 

Of course, not everyone always agrees with everyone else about what is "great."  I guess somewhere there is a consensus.  For example, I personally think The Catcher in the Rye is a “great” book.  But I also know people who hate it and think it is dumb.  Yet, The Catcher in the Rye is on every great-books-of-the-20th-century list that I have ever seen.  I think it will go down in history as a “great” book mostly because the consensus seems to deem it “great.” 

Catherine
Frequent Contributor
EinsteinPD
Posts: 235
Registered: ‎05-08-2012
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Re: What makes a book great?

Thank you for your reply. We agree on "universal themes." The books you consider great I consider very important. IMHO a really great writing is revolutionary, and so it takes some time for its importance to be realized.

 

An example would be Dr. Albert Einstein's 1905 papers on Relativity. It was not until 1945, until their importance began to be recognized a little, via atomic bombs. Today, 107 years after initial publication, their importance is still not generally recognized. They gave us in theory unlimited pollution free energy by hydrogen fusion, and unlimites population expansion to other Earth rype worlds, by employing Time Contraction spacefligfht.

 

I have been soundly criticized for attempting to make the importance of Einstein's work better known My ebook "Starship To New Earth NOW" that describes the possible use of Einstein's experimentally confirmed Time Contraction to achieve feasible star treavel, was termed "Poppycock Science" in an Amazon.com review. If you want to read a book about the application of star travel. made possible by a truly great book, then read "Starship To New Rarth NOW."

 

Since this is a fiction Forum, I will close by saying that great non-fiction and fiction both teach. Non-fiction employs mostly explanation, fiction mostly reaches by example. The Bible employs both methods.

 

Any and all comments on this and/or the preceding two posts are welcome.

 

imagesSSArlantis.jpg

Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: What makes a book great?


EinsteinPD wrote:

Thank you for your reply. We agree on "universal themes." The books you consider great I consider very important. IMHO a really great writing is revolutionary, and so it takes some time for its importance to be realized.

 

An example would be Dr. Albert Einstein's 1905 papers on Relativity. It was not until 1945, until their importance began to be recognized a little, via atomic bombs. Today, 107 years after initial publication, their importance is still not generally recognized. They gave us in theory unlimited pollution free energy by hydrogen fusion, and unlimites population expansion to other Earth rype worlds, by employing Time Contraction spacefligfht.

 

I have been soundly criticized for attempting to make the importance of Einstein's work better known My ebook "Starship To New Earth NOW" that describes the possible use of Einstein's experimentally confirmed Time Contraction to achieve feasible star treavel, was termed "Poppycock Science" in an Amazon.com review. If you want to read a book about the application of star travel. made possible by a truly great book, then read "Starship To New Rarth NOW."

 

Since this is a fiction Forum, I will close by saying that great non-fiction and fiction both teach. Non-fiction employs mostly explanation, fiction mostly reaches by example. The Bible employs both methods.

 

Any and all comments on this and/or the preceding two posts are welcome.

 

imagesSSArlantis.jpg


Starship To New Earth NOW  
Thank for the post and the comments

I've added the nook book link for the book