Difference Between Good and Great Books
The difference between a good and a great book is a delicate and peculiar one. It cannot be defined by the quality of people who read it – a third-rate detective story will most likely find greater audience than a profound philosophical novel. It cannot be judged by the ideas presented in it – there is more than one example when book stating to address the most important issues of existence are completely unnoticed. It is not about the language – excellent writing skills do not guarantee greatness of the book.
The best indicator of the greatness of a book is its lasting appeal. If the author is long ago dead and sometimes even forgotten, but the book is still known and read – it is a great book.
It doesn’t mean that the books that are simply good should be dismissed – they are still good, and interesting, and sometimes important. They simply cannot be considered great. And in the same way, not all great books can be considered good. Atlas Shrugged, an undoubtedly great book, is, at the same time, of rather little artistic value; books by Terry Pratchett, while written in excellent English and flavored by first-rate British humor, can hardly be placed among great ones.
Still, most often great books are, after all, good as well. Very often they appear as a foundation of some literature trend, all the following books of which may be good, but cannot be great – for example, Lord of the Rings is a great book, while the entire genre of fantasy spawned by it contains both good and bad, but hardly any great books.