If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the
story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the
descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning
hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No …
it’s because you want to know what happens next?
Or, um, is it just me?
Yes and no. I have read books simply for the plot (most of the Twilight books) and I have read books simply for the language (The English Patient). The thing is, while those books were enjoyable enough, I didn't love them. I didn't absorb them and rave about them. A good book, to me, needs a combination of all of these:
Characters: At least one character has to be likable. That's why The English Patient felt hollow, and why I have such a hard time reading Steinbeck books.
Language: Language can be as indispensible as the plot. What would a Wodehouse book be without the appeal of its language? I don't really care if a book is evocative and flowery, as long as it is comprehensible and more-or-less readable. I dislike the very simple and the very embellished.
Plot: There is nothing more frustrating than a good story broken to pieces by philosophical or whale-related digression.
One last note: I have no use for "deep literary meaning", as defined by critics and scholars. Reading books not for enjoyment but for some other hazy academic reason is something I don't have any interest in doing. (I'm looking at you, James Joyce and Mrs Dalloway.)