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What are the criteria for the best novel?
What would you suggest would be the best ways to decide which novels should be on a top 100 list for example?
asked in literature, ranks and Toplists



siasl74 answers:

Usually it's "how many votes does it have?"

You could argue about "fewest grammatical errors" and some such, but that's largely foolish.

Everyone has different ideas of what makes a good book, be it "it's a good story", or "it made me think/challenged my ideas", or "it taught me lots" - none of which are quantifiable beyond collecting opinions from lots of folk.

Also, a book that is popular now is not necessarily going to be popular in the future - it's just a sign of the times, or cunning marketing. Personally, I hope the Harry Potter series fade into obscurity very quickly - they've not really broken new ground, it's just been a well marketed story.


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vultan answers:

The best way is probably the way that Sight and Sound uses to come up with the 'best ever films' list. Every ten years they ask 100 (or maybe more) critics to each submit ten films. Then they just add up what gets the most entries, which is why Citizen Kane is usually regarded as the best film of all time.

Do the same thing with novels and you'll get a pretty good consensus, I'd think. It's better that it should come from critics, because if the public is allowed to vote then they'll go for Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Nothing wrong with them if you like that kind of thing, but they'll probably be forgotten in 100 years time. Critics are more inclined to be pretentious, but the books they pick will be better.

They also have longer memories - public votes generally reward recent things too highly.


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