B is for Best #atozchallenge

Day B of the 2013 Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: Best, as in, trying to determine how and if something is the best – best song, best book, best ice cream flavor, etc.

Do you ever have a night where you open someone’s link to a YouTube video, and then click on something recommended, and click on something recommended, and three hours later you’re listening to songs in some northern European language where they reference Don Draper and dance in leotards, watching German industrial horror videos, thinking that yes, Taylor Swift does sound much better with goats, and wondering which Primus CDs to get your dad for his upcoming birthday?

My dad loves music, and because he used to play the bass, I thought he might enjoy a couple Primus CDs for his birthday, since I can’t afford to get him a dishwasher (namely because I hate doing dishes) like I really want to.  But which ones?

I turned to Google for an answer, but I couldn’t get anything definitive.  Some lists were based on sales; others on the listmaker’s opinion, and some on a vote limited to just a few chosen or self-selected fans and critics.  Some gave reasons (great bass playing, crappy lyrics), and some just proclaimed their choice as infallible law.

Books are the same way.  What makes one the best?

Sales? 50 Shades of Gray sold a kajillion copies, and we all know the writing is barely proficient.

Endurance? Moby Dick is a classic that won’t die, but trying to read it puts me to sleep.

Lists? It depends who’s putting it together.  Is it literary critics who automatically disdain anything commercial? Is it a specific demographic who’ll therefore lean towards a specific genre, plot device, or setting?

What criteria would you use to pick the best book? Using your criteria, what do you think the best fiction book is, and why?


  1. I think a book you can’t put down. But then the classics require longer reading. . . . A book you like so much you recommend it to others, or even buy it for them.

    1. Definitely. A friend of mine always buys copies of about 5 different books whenever she sees them at used bookstores, then gives them to people to read. I think that’s a great way of letting people know a book is good, if you’re willing to buy it for them.

  2. Books are so subjective, but I’ve found that Goodreads is the best place to connect with other readers and read their reviews on books in the genres you like best. And as an author, it’s an invaluable tool.

    Nice to meet you, ED. I’m a new follower via the A2Z!

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      I love Goodreads. I have their app on my phone, and when I’m at the library I often scan a book’s barcode and read its Goodread reviews. If it averages below a 3.5, chances are I won’t read it.

      Like many other readers and writers, I’m definitely watching Goodreads closely to see how it changes after Amazon’s acquisition.

  3. When I was a teenager and into my early 20’s I used to go to used book stores and spend hours picking out books, I didn’t have enough money to buy new nor did I want to waste money if the book was crap, somehow paying .50 for it didn’t make it hurt so bad when I couldn’t get past my 5 page read rule. Yup, if I am not hooked or at least slightly intrigued within 5 pages I don’t continue reading it.

    Nowadays, I basically go off of friends recommendations and having the interent (which I did not have back in the day) to read previews and reviews and sometimes be able to read those first 5 pages for free, allows me a far better opportunity to find good reads right from the start.

    In the end in all my 40 some years of reading, I still have a favorite…. The Straight man by Richard Russo, it just find it so funny and it is one that I recommend and one that I pick up every couple of years to read again.

    1. I’ve added that to my to-read list. :)

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