Maybe the question should be, “How do I know if the time that it takes to read a book is worth it?”. That might be easier to work with. The people who love to read know what they like to read. They know that there are different categories of books. Not genres per se, but qualities of books. Let’s break that down. Why would someone read?
For Fun – Candy Reading
People who read for fun are reading for the same reason that people watch Netflix or go to movies. It can be an escape. It can be because of the director, actors, or the creator of the story as with the Harry Potter movies, or any of the Marvel or DC stories. It’s a fun adventure without requiring any serious commitment. It’s a break from our daily grind. Sometimes these books get bad publicity, like romance novels or Diary of a Wimpy Kid. They definitely have a place on bookshelves. There’s nothing wrong with them. I encourage my students to read whatever they like, but also I expect them to challenge themselves and not read anything they’ve read before. Especially when they’re in high school. They shouldn’t be reading elementary level books in high school.
Skimming – Coffee Table Reading
There’s often not a lot of reading here. Coffee Table books are often full of pictures on a specific topic. These books might include topics in woodworking, collecting antiques, vehicles, or historical events and locations. These books are interesting and you can get a lot of information from them, but it’s a casual endeavor.
Literary reading is something that we try to teach in school to prepare students for University. Not everyone likes this kind of reading because the books are often considered difficult or boring (though they’re not boring). The more challenging the work is, often times the more rewarding the result.
Academic Reading – Research
Academic reading can be a little bit deceiving. Academic reading, is learning about anything, from how a car works, to how to build a guitar. Academic research can be learning about a country, language, or sports statistics. Academic reading is often supplemented by video, thanks to websites like YouTube. People can find information about any topic. I’m sure you know this, though.
Back to the title question: What makes a book worth reading?
If it’s for a grade, it’s worth reading. If it’s for fun, it’s worth reading. If it’s for entertainment or conversation, it’s worth reading. If it’s a story that you love from a more difficult author, try reading it!
There are so many books to read, enjoy, explore, and discover!
How are you reading now? Are you escaping, or researching for class?