Okay, so I don’t know if this is technically a guest post. This showed up in my inbox yesterday from my husband, and he’s not a blogger or anything. But it was too sweet to not post.
When Katie is truly happy, she becomes at a loss for words, which is why she is always silent after the hilarious dad jokes I tell. This was the case for her when reading The Goblin Emperor by Sarah Monette (as Katherine Addison). On nearly every occasion where I found her reading this book, she would invariably come to a stopping place, put the book down and exclaim, “This book is so good!” But, that was essentially the end of her commentary; no explanation. And none was necessary for in that moment, I saw how happy she was, and that was enough. Katie connected with the book, and that’s what I find to be important about books and about art in general. Connection is what makes art valuable and meaningful.
I know Katie has talked before about the difference between a book being good and a book being liked. She and I have often disagreed about this subject. I would argue that there’s no such thing as a bad book. She would explain to me how there are bad books and how wrong I was. How purple prose and one-dimensional characters cheapen a book and make it less good than another, even to the point of labeling it as a “bad” book. I still maintain that there’s no such thing as a bad book. Sure there may be less well-executed books written by less proficient authors, but any book, regardless of execution, is in all likelihood enjoyed by someone, even if that someone is the author alone, and that gives it value.
I didn’t need to know anything else about The Goblin Emperor to know it was a success after hearing my wife’s repeated exclamations of “This book is so good!” I know my wife and I know that when she says that a book is good that she is not only giving her opinion, but judging it for quality. But imagine a child, having just finished making their own book out of construction paper and crayon. They look over their creation with pride, flip through the pages, and read it aloud to themselves. They beam with joy and say to themselves, “This book is so good!” Who is anyone to tell that child that they are wrong? That the book is not good, they just like the book. The book is good because the child likes the book. End of story.
So, is there really any such thing as a bad book? Sure, what’s a good book to one person, may not connect with another. For the one it is good, and for the other it is bad. Books are neutral in that way. Whether or not a book is good is more about the connection between the author and the reader than the quality of the prose. Katie loved The Goblin Emperor because what had previously been locked within the imagination of Sarah Monette was not only transmitted effectively to her, but resonated with her in a way that left her truly speechless.
I haven’t read The Goblin Emperor but I can safely say because of the joy that it brought my wife, that it deserves five stars.
Kyle is not a book blogger but he is a dad who enjoys all creative pursuits, listening to old ladies tell him stories, and playing simulation games. Kyle can be found @KyloRod on Twitter.