Have you ever felt, as a homeschooling mom, like you are on a never-ending quest for great books?
Have you ever experienced the disappointment of reading a widely-acclaimed “great book” only to discover it fell far short of your expectations? Why did that happen? What were you looking for? What was the rave-reviewer looking for?
Apparently, this is a post of question marks. All these queries really resolve themselves into one sentence:
Do you know how to recognize a great book?
Great Books vs. Good Books
As we discussed last month, good books and great books are not necessarily the same thing. SAW Publishing would define good as a description of spiritual characteristics, while great focuses on literary attributes.
As we discussed in some detail in that post, good books are those which are wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil (Romans 16:19). Good books have a powerful impact on our Christian lives.
What about great books?
SAW Publishing’s Definition of a Great Book
Just as we have a clear-cut definition of good books, SAW Publishing’s description of a great book has a precise meaning.
When we at SAW Publishing talk about great books we are thinking of works that embody literary excellence.
A great book is well-written in the broadest, most multifaceted understanding of the term. It is a book that exemplifies true success in the art of writing.
There’s More than One Way to be Great
And this is exactly where the definition of a great book can become complicated. Greatness is a continuum. It is also an art which encompasses many branches. We cannot lay our finger on one particular aspect of writing, and say with authority, “That is what makes a book great.”
But without attempting to undertake this impossible task, we can identify a few features which frequently contribute to great writing. The following is by no means a comprehensive list, but it highlights some of the main points:
- breadth of vocabulary
- effective use of language
- dynamic character portraiture
- effective plot
- effective literary structure and devices
- emotional resonance
- spiritual resonance
The last item on this list might be seen as overlapping between good and great characteristics. But for a good book to be truly and effectively great it must possess the quality of connecting its spiritual qualities with its readers.
Great Books are . . . Great!
Great books don’t necessarily make up a majority in the field of literature. They aren’t necessarily the first books that come to hand. They aren’t necessarily the ones everyone is raving about.
But great books are still worth the effort—because great books are a powerful tool to influence hearts for eternity.
I would love to hear what outstanding books you have come across in your search for good and great literature. Just leave a comment below.
For a more detailed look at a few of the characteristics of a great book, see our previous post:
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- The Second Day of Creation: A FREE Poetry Download from SAW Publishing
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