There are lots of ways you know it’s a good book, and I guess it’s different for different people. I started reading a book I came across somewhere on social media, someone just casually mentioned it and I thought ooh, that sounds interesting, that sounds up my reading street! It was set in Australia, in a small town in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a searing summer, and the main character, a journalist, arrives to find out about an incident which happened the previous year which resulted in several deaths. He was going to talk to the survivors and tell their story – not of the incident, but of their lives afterwards. The premise appealed, but also having read Jane Harper’s book The Dry which I thought was so brilliant, I thought it would be interesting to read something else with a similar setting.
I’m about half a dozen chapters in, and I know that (so far) it’s a good book, because during the day I’ve kept wanting to sneak off and read it. I only normally read at night when I’m in bed, too much to do during the day (even in these weird times) but a couple of times today I have been tempted. Other ways I know it’s a good book, is when it stays with me. It might not be perfect, it might not be the best written, it might even have faults like holes in the plot, or annoying characters, or boring bits, but if on the whole it’s a good book it will lodge in my mind. For days and sometimes longer after I’ve finished it my thoughts will drift back to it and aspects of it, and I’ll feel engaged with it and disappointed I’ve finished reading it.
When I finish a book I immediately buy the next book by the author, or even the next couple of books, then it’s a good book. As above, it might not be the most perfect book, but if I feel I have a commitment to the writer then I will read as many of their books as I can, maybe one after the other, greedily with no thought of how annoyed I’ll be when I’ve finished them all and there are no more. Then I will keep my eye on the author’s page and social media, hoping they will write another. I’ll tell all my friends about it, probably write about it here as I’m doing now, comment on sites to do with the author, pre-order as soon as it’s available and as soon as I get it then plunge in. Telling all my friends about it – I probably bore their socks off because I will go on about it, and ages after I’ve finished it, i will keep referring back to it. If they read it and don’t like it, I feel so disappointed!
So what’s the book set in Australia which set me off writing this? It’s Scrublands by Chris Hammer, published in 2019. and oh good, it seems he has written other novels with the same main character!