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?