good books great books

There are millions of good books out there, but there are much less great books. Each person has a different way of deciding which books are “good” and which are “great,” but today I wanted to share my own criteria.

Good books make you feel like you’re watching a nice movie. Great books make you feel like you’re in them.


Am I right or am I right? Good authors will make you imagine and picture what their world looks like in their minds, but it takes a brilliant writer to really transport you into the world of the book.

Good books have awesome characters. Great books have unforgettable characters.

As an avid reader and high school student, I read a shit ton of books a year, on top of all the required reading for school. Sometimes when I like a character, I’ll go, “[x] is pretty awesome,” then completely forget their name two hours later. Unforgettable characters like Percy Jackson are those you won’t forget even years after reading the book, and they come from great books.

Good books make you say, “Wow.” Great books make you say, “Holy. Freaking. Shit.”

That moment after you turn the last page of a book, you’re going to react to it. Great books will make you wonder how such an amazing, better-than-wow thing has come upon the earth.

Good books make you feel. Great books make your heart explode.


I don’t know about you, but I am a very emotional reader. And when a books make my heart constrict and make me feel as if I’d die of a heart attack, then it’s an instant favorite.

Good books leave an impact on you. Great books change your life.

Most books will leave you with a life tip. Good books will make you go, “Oh, yeah. So glad I know about this now,” or perhaps, “I feel so horrible about [x].” Fantabulous books will make you want to change your life for the better.


Do you agree with my criteria? Do you have your own? What are the some of the great books you’ve read?


About Aimee

Aimee loves being a little bookworm (okay–she doesn’t like being little). She also loves chocolates and sweets but is freaked out by the thought of possibly getting diabetes.

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38 thoughts on “The Difference Between “Good” Books and “Great” Books

  1. Yes. Yes. Yes. Great post and agree with your distinctions. I have a horrible memory and never remember names in a book but for my great books I always remember. And I can’t let it go. I will talk about it forever. Sometimes I know it may not be a great book for everyone – it just affected me for some reason and that’s ok.


  2. Absolutely! There’s such a magic around a truly great book, it’s wonderful! Especially when it just resonates with you at that point in your life and the character feels like they have a piece of you in them!


  3. YES TO THIS ENTIRE POST. I love what you’ve come up with here, and basically I just agree with EVERYTHING.

    I have never really thought of the whole movie comparison thing before, but you’re totally right. Great books are definitely engaging; they make you feel like you’re right there. That’s why my feels are always messed with when I’m reading a great book, since I’m sooo involved in a great book.

    Percy Jackson forever <33 Another character's name I'll never forget is Ruby's, from The Darkest Minds. The characters from both series, PJO and TDM, are so real that they're totally unforgettable. I felt their emotions like they were my own while reading, and that's what made them remarkable to me. <33

    Strange how "wow this book made my feels explode" translate to a book becoming our favorite, haha. ;) Great books definitely can be painful, but they're so worth it, since they fundamentally change you as a person. Which is basically the number one reason I read.

    I absolutely adored this post, Aimee. So unique and spot-on! <33


  4. I agree with the unforgettable characters one. Percy Jackson is so amazing, I’ll probably one day force my kids to read the books x)


  5. Yes, totally! Percy Jackson, The Fault in Our Stars, Pushing the Limits series are just a few that were great, that fully transported me and made me fall in love with the characters!


  6. Haha, of course, a Percy Jackson mention! I totally agree with everything you said, and Percy is the most unforgettable character, yes? Also, love the heart exploding one, that’s so true! I’m also an emotional reader so anything that makes me feel that way, just yeeeesss, give me more!

    I would add, for me, that a great book also forces you to connect with characters even if you have nothing in common with them, you still feel like you could be them. =)


  7. I completely agree with this post! Great characters (like YES PERCY JACKSON I’m so happy you referenced that) I’ll commit to memory, but good ones tend to slip my mind. And to your last point, good books definitely leave an impact. I’ve read many many books I considered to be ‘good’ and I think, despite my terrible memory, some sliver of detail about that book has managed to stay with me. But with great books, they change my life. I’ll look at things differently or try to see things from another person’s perspective. Arguably with Harry Potter (and I saw this posted somewhere), those books didn’t just change my life, they shaped my life. I grew up on and learned so many things from the Harry Potter books and I would always classify them as one of the greats.

    Claire @ Cover to Cover


  8. This is so true, there’s definitely a distinction between a book that makes you be like cool, I liked that book and a book that has you want to read it slower because your scared of finishing it and it being over haha


  9. Nailed it! A good post gets a like but a GREAT post gets a like and a comment ;) haha

    Great books to me are books that I can’t put down; that make me want to put my life on hold just to find out what is going to happen next; that make me gasp out loud when something amazing happens (usually cursing and/OMGing); and great books make me so sad when they are over ;)


  10. I absolutely love this criteria Aimee! This is the perfect way to describe how I do my four and five star ratings now – four star books have made me feel so much and cry buckets but if it didn’t make a forever impact then it just stays at a four. My five star reads have become much rarer nowadays!


  11. I agree with all of these! Another one I’d like to add is that great books can leave you feeling everything at once, while good books are just…good.


  12. +10 for that Percy Jackson reference Aimee <3 ;)
    And I completely agree with everything you've said here. Honestly, I think this is the difference between a 4 star book and a 5 star book, you know? A 4 star book is good; something you were entertained by and would read again, but a 5 star book is something that changes you or the way you see the world. Wonderful post Aimee!


  13. YES. I feel like many of the books I read nowadays check off 99% of the boxes for “good books”, like “three-dimensional characters” and “gripping plot” and “detailed worldbuilding”, but they don’t make me go “OMG YOU DID NOT DO THAT YOU DID YOU DID THAT WAS FABULOUS.” I feel like while good books can be quantified in some way through revisions and whatnot, great books do vary amongst readership. What is mind-blowing for one person might only be a “well, it’s nice” read for another.


  14. I agree with your criteria, and really enjoyed reading your post! It’s just so accurate. I feel like my criteria is more of an internal decision based on emotions, and whatnot. Not anything set in stone.

    More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (GREAT)
    Fans of The Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (OMG)
    Gone series by Michael Grant
    A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (GREAT)
    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol (GREAT)
    Oblivion by Sasha Dawn (GREAT)
    Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (YESSSS)
    Liars Inc., by Paula Stokes (OMG)
    My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga (OMG)
    Mosquitoland by David Arnold (OMGOMGOMGOMG)
    Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (<3)
    The Heir by Kiera Cass (ENTERTAINING)
    Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (YESSSSSSS)
    The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings (YESSSS)
    Don't Touch by Rachel Wilson (BEAUTIFUL)
    Anatomy of A Misfit by Andrea Portés (BEAUTIFUL)
    Blackbird by Anna Carey (THRILLING)


  15. I’d agree with you on the “unforgettable characters” part except I will almost always forget their name. It doesn’t matter how amazing they were because I’ll still forget. What I won’t forget though, is their personality, especially if it’s well written. So I guess for me, that’s what I would consider “unforgettable”.


  16. Gaaah, I love this post! Everything you said is so spot on. I feel like mostly this summer I’ve been reading “good” books, or even only “okay” books, and not as many “great” books, and it makes me so sad! Because “Great books make your heart explode” and is usually accompanied by squeals, pretty scary-sounding intakes of breath, and maybe sometimes even tears, and I NEED to read another great book soon! They’re the kind of books that remind you why you love reading so much and would rather do it than anything else, and would even prioritize it over things you’re supposed to be doing.


  17. AHHH THIS POST IS SO PERFECT. I was literally complaining about this to my mum today…like I read a “good” book. That was it. Good. I enjoyed it, but it was un-memorable, so you just basically summed up my feelings 100% on the differences between them. xD


  18. Yes to all, basically! I love reading good books, but it just makes you feel that extra OOMPH when you’re reading a great book. The one that makes you go “YES ALL OF THE YES” and rave about on Goodreads and the blog and the one that you throw at people’s heads and go “READ IT”.

    I like those books.


  19. You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with all of these, I went along all your points screaming YES! I haven’t read a GREAT book in a while, I want a bookish hangover, I want to cry til my head hurts, damn it! But luckily, I have read plenty of good books in between,


  20. I TOTALLY agree with this! Like, if a book has made me feel ALL the things, then it is on my favorites list immediately! And like, you just KNOW when you read a book that is amazing- it’s just that “something special”, and you know it will stick with you forever, in some form. I am looking at some of my favorites now, and I STILL feel emotions when I see them- that’s the mark of a great book for sure! This post is fabulous!!


  21. I’m totally with you on some of them :) The Holy.Freaking.Shit for sure. I dont need to feel like I’m in the book though. That can happen with a good book for me or not at all for an AMAZING one. But I want to feel the emotional tug of that amazing one. They’re incredibly few and far between for me. I’ve loved and enjoyed a number of books but I’ve only had one truly *stunning* one this year. Makes them all the more special for me :D


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