Five ways to spot a good book (and a good relationship)

When you think about it, books and relationships have a lot in common. Some books you read once and throw away. Others you read, fall in love with and keep to read over and over again for years. Some books look great on the cover and have excellent liner notes, then you actually get a few pages in and are bitterly disappointed. Some books take forever to get to the good part but once you do, you're hooked. 

Sometimes, you're only in the mood for a short story. Then there are the books that are bad from the start but you're determined to get your money's worth so you read it through to the end only to be irritated and disgusted that you wasted your time. Some books you should leave right there on the shelf. And who hasn't encountered a book that you read too quickly and have to go back and start all over again because you missed so much speeding through? See what I'm saying?

Noted book blogger @Reads4Pleasure gave me a list of five things she looks for in a good book. I'm going to make the argument that you can correlate these things with qualities to look for in a relationship as well. I might be doing too much but it kinda makes sense:

1) Well-Developed Storylines
Is there anything more irritating than being with a person who's all over the place? They have no direction, no clue where they are going and no idea how to get there. It's as if they wake up every morning saying, "Oh how did I get here?" A good book, like a good relationship, needs purpose and direction. Without it, you just have a bunch of words on a page that mean nothing. And though you may not have a clue where the book is leading you, you should really be interested enough to keep turning pages.

2) Fleshed-out Characters
"What is the hero/heroine's motivation?" Sounds cliché but it's soooo important. A leading character that is one-dimensional and bland spells doom for a storyline and a relationship. Shallow people both scare and bore me. I'm always wary of the character that's just a little too perfect. A fleshed out character isn't perfect, they have good and bad all jumbled together. Where's the fatal flaw? What's the thing that makes them human and will I be able to live with it? Characters that are just a little complex and multi-layered are the ones that hold your interest in the long run.

3) Unpredictable Plots
This is the equivalent of "not getting stale". There's a huge difference between crazy "I need bail money" drama and the wonder of a relationship that can still surprise you (in a good way) every now and then. Again, not in a "the stick turned blue" surprise kind of way but a pleasant, "honey I thought we'd pack up for the weekend and get outta here" kind of way. I can't stand books where the author clearly throws something in there for shock value. It's jarring and unsettling and takes forever to get back on track. But an interesting plot twist that makes you go "hmmm"? Well that's golden.

4) Descriptive Imagery
In a book, this is the ability to paint a visual picture so that the reader feels like they are living in the moment. They can taste the flavors, smell the fragrance and view the scenery. In a relationship, we call this inclusive creativity. It is the ability to create a great atmosphere and welcome your significant other into it... and make it inviting enough that they want to stay. Le Sigh. I'm getting wistful just thinking about it. 

5) Fluid writing
Put in relationship terms, it simply has to make sense. Each portion of the story has to flow into the next in a sequence and cadence that works. You ever read a book that was full of disjointed flashbacks and timelines and you really couldn't figure out what happened when to who? You know how you have to flip back a few pages to re-read it and see if you missed something? Now think of a relationship where instead of going from A to B, you started at J went back to D and found yourself at Z before you could catch your breath. That's not fluid.

So what do you think? Did these analogies make any sense at all or did my allergy medication kick in? Did I miss a book-to-relationship analogy? How many times have you judged a book (relationship) by it's shiny cover (looks good at a glance) only to discover it was terribly written and painful to get through? Share your thoughts, the floor is yours...