Thursday, April 22, 2010

Question Thursday: Do you have 'gold standard' books?

As much as I try to appreciate each book for its own merits, I often find myself inadvertently comparing one book to another as I read.  Sometimes that happens when two books actually have strikingly similar plots or characters.  And honestly, that type of comparison seems fairly unavoidable if you have genre preferences.  For example, if you read all the YA urban fantasy novels you can get your hands on, then you'll inevitably find yourself comparing one author's vampire mythology to another author's vampire mythology.

But it is another type of book comparison I want to ask about today.  Sometimes I find myself comparing my current read to what is essentially my personal 'gold standard' for a particular plot or style element.  For example, when it comes to witty, sarcastic banter in a YA urban fantasy series, I consider Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series to be in that 'gold standard' range.  So as I read dialogue intended to be funny or snarky in other YA urban fantasies, I occasionally find myself thinking something along the lines of "This is fairly good dialogue, but it is not so well-timed/snarky/memorable/clever as the dialogue in the Mortal Instruments series."  

This type of comparison seems somewhat unfair to me, since it often means that my current book will be held up against not just one 'gold standard' book or series, but several different 'gold standard' books - a couple for dialogue, a few for romantic tension, a handful for atmosphere/setting, a couple for pacing, a few for narrative voice, etc.  I definitely don't expect every book to live up to all of my favorite aspects of my favorite novels, but I can't always seem to stop myself from drawing these 'gold standard' comparisons as I read.

Do you find yourself drawing those types of comparisons as you read?  If so, what are some of your 'gold standard' books?


Anonymous said...

I definitely do that all the time! The thing is, though, I find that when one good book comes close to even one of my "gold standards", that pretty much upgrades it to WOW! status, then I go around telling everyone ... you HAVE to read this, it's almost as good as ... !!

So, for me it doesn't really make it hard to enjoy other books as much. It actually makes me appreciate similar books more :)

Violet said...

Really excellent points, Bella. When a new book comes close to one or more of my 'gold standards' I do tend to enthusiastically encourage everyone I know to read it. :)

Jenni Elyse said...

Like you, I try not to compare books, but I inevitably do. Because Twilight is what go me reading, it is THE golden book for me, even though it may not be the best written or even be the best story. If I read a romance that has similar angst and tension between the couple, I always compare it to the way I felt about Twilight the first time I read it. If I get similar vibes, then the book usually ends up as a favorite. I guess I compare feelings more so than story.

Cleverly Inked said...

great topic. Absolutely , its hard not to compare. In life we usually compare everything so why not this part too

Candace said...

Oh yes! I do know that after reading The Iron Daughter I felt like anything I read after I couldn't do a fair review on because my standards were WAY too high!

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