Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Discuss: what makes a perfect book?

Thanks to my fellow reviewer over at Novelicious, CescaReviews, I have been thinking recently about what makes the perfect book. She recently gave Room by Emma Donoghue a 9.5 out of 10 and I asked her why not a 10? She couldn't say. She speculated that it's the teacher in her which must give an A- never an A.

There is normally that tendency to vear away from giving top marks, whether it's to encourage constant improvement or just because there is a niggling voice that says that a little tweak here or there would have made it perfect. But actually being able to quantify what changes these are is a difficult matter.

So it got me thinking - what are the perfect books? That rare breed of literature that I have read and found impossible to find a single flaw. Well there are the Harry Potter books of course (I make no secret of my love for them!) and then more recently the mindblowing debut of Sister by Rosamund Lupton which had me gripped from start to finish and MORE than passed my tube test. I gave serious consideration to being late for work and staying on the tube just to keep reading.

But for me personally I would have to say that a 10/10 book does something other books don't dare to do. It challenges the beginning-middle-end with a neat and tidy ending and thinks outside the box. Books like My Sister's Keeper (Jodi Picoult) dare to discuss taboo topics with care and conviction and other books like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Mark Haddon) choose a perspective not normally explored and explore it with sensitivity and affection.

Then there are those books which are considered great because they have stood the test of time - basically anything by Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. Even Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham had a timeless quality and apolocalyptic books will never stop being relevant!

So what is your perfect book? What warrants a 10/10?

Over to you... LE xx


  1. Since your comment the other day I did get to thinking about my 10/10 books. I have a pretty eclectic taste and there are many books in the 9/10 category. Every now and again I suppose you are just grabbed at that moment, in your life, by a book and it makes it to the 10/10 spot. Perhaps in another year at another moment it might not have struck the same chord, perhaps it was the first time you've read anything of it's kind. So.... eek... perfection... it's a big shout... here goes...

    Bridget Jones - Helen Fielding - This book was a breakthrough book for me, and many other women I suspect. So fantastically witty, it is destined to be a modern day classic surely?

    Jilly Cooper books at their best - see Riders, Polo, Pandora - these books are so warm, amusing and jam-packed with characters that make you want to meet them* (*meet/sleep with/slap)that it's no wonder she's a global success.

    The Literary Guernsey and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer - I just LOVE this book. I was truly heartbroken at the end to realise these people were fictional and would never be a part of my life.

    Oh goodness I'm going to stop there, although some of the boys are awarded 9.5/10 for the following. Highly Commended in no particular order:

    Yes Man - Danny Wallace (LOVELY)
    Are you experienced - William Sutcliffe (some of the scenes are pant-wettingly funny)
    The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (I'm sorry but I really couldn't stop turning the pages...)

    Ta da x

  2. Great post and quite a hard question to answer.

    I am quite frugal with my 10 out of 10 scores. I think because I don't want to over use it, which would make the ones that I do truly love stand out less from the crowd.

    I think the last book I gave ten out of ten to was The disengagement ring by Clodagh Murphy - it was just a perfect chick lit novel.

    Hmm... I need to go off and have a bit of a think about what else I would give top marks too.

  3. For me a perfect "book" is a wonderful find but rarely happens. The books that come under this category for me are The Harry Potter Books, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, and even Sleeping Beauty ( an old favourite).
    The reason these books are a favourite for me and score a perfect "10" , is that they are a form of sheer escapism. These books take me into a world so unlike my own, and I don't want to escape to the end. These books have made me smile, laugh , cry and even gasp in horror and shock. When a book can make you feel such a wide range of emotions just at a turn of a page, then it becomes a perfect book.
    The last two books I gave 10 ot of 10 too were The Island by Victoria Hislop and Room by Emma Donoghoe, two very different genre's that were mindblowing from the very start of the first page.
    I read a lot and the occasional perfect 10 book is a joy to behold and one that remains on my bookshelf indefinitely and reread at least once a year.
    traceyjoa aka tracey thomas

  4. Ladies - some excellent choices! I eagerly look forward to my next 10/10...

  5. The best non-fiction books read like fiction. Read "Into Thin Air" for an example.

    The best fiction books show originality and imagination. "Jurassic Park".

    In every book, pacing is an essential ingredient that moves books from good to great.