Does the perfect book even exist?


Does the perfect book actually exist? There’s been many times when I’ve said “this is literally the perfect book for me!” Or “the setting was pure perfection!”, but did I really mean these things when I was saying them, and shouting my meaningless opinions into the void of the internet?

Recently, I was thinking about my favourite books (y’know, just to pass the time... who doesn’t think about their favourite books 24/7?), and it occurred to me that I was never fully satisfied with them, even though I call them my all-time favourites. There was always something that wasn’t quite right, even if it was a very miniscule flaw, and didn’t make much difference to my enjoyment of the book. Sometimes it’s the ending, or at others it can just be one line of dialogue that didn’t sit quite right with me. 

I know I’m an extremely critical reader and reviewer. When I’m reading a book, I know I’m constantly looking for flaws instead of the positive elements of the book. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying this is the right way to go! Sometimes it doesn’t work for me, and each type of reader is equally valid and a valuable reviewer.) I think this means that even if I’m reading a book I’m absolutely loving, and that it’s becoming one of my favourites, I can’t just read it and enjoy everything as it is. It’s just in my nature to look for the negative instead of the positive! I can’t help being a pessimist and extremely cynical! (dw I hate this about myself... haha... ha...).

When I was reading my all-time favourite book, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, (I know I bang on about this one all the time but stick with me, I actually have something valid and new *gasp* to say about this book), I initially wasn’t happy with the way it ended. I thought it was too ambiguous, and I just wanted more. I thought it wasn’t long enough, and that we didn’t get enough closure.

Maybe it’s just in our human nature to be greedy with things we’re really liking. I really didn’t want this book to end, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t originally satisfied. I could read about Leonard forever, so of course, I would be sad whenever the book ended, no matter if it was after 200 or 600 pages. 

But, after thinking about the book and everything that happened in it, I decided I was pleased with how it finished. I first thought the ending was just the easy way out, but I thought about the messages and the impact the ending had, and why it was written the way it was. This made me love the book even more, because I was able to appreciate it, as I was thinking about everything that had happened. It’s still definitely my favourite book ever. 

I chose this to be my example because as of writing, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is my favourite book. But do I think it’s perfect? No! And do I mind? Of course not! It’s still my favourite book, even if I am wishing for a slightly longer ending.

But is there such thing as a perfect book for someone, even if another reader can’t find their perfect book? As I said before, if I had to choose a ‘perfect book’ for me, I would choose FMLP, even if I didn’t find it completely perfect. However, someone else might have found their perfect book, which is awesome!

However, some books just get you. We read to feel that we’re not alone, and the books that understand you, that write what you’re feeling, that make the world more bearable, can be the most glorious thing to read, and the most perfect feeling to find. Are these books perfect? There may be some minor flaws, but these sorts of books are so important (and are often my favourites, purely because of this). 

One book that completely made me feel so much less lonely was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s a pretty popular book now, but it’s so special to me, and is one of my all time favourites. When I first read it, it was special to me, but it was only when I was re-reading it at the end of 2015 it hit so close to home. I read it at a time when I really needed it, and the way it comforted me and made me feel couldn’t have been better. I can think of flaws within the plot/characters/writing, but the overall message was perfect.

So is The Perks of Being a Wallflower perfect? No - I don’t think so. But the message and what it did to me was, so can a book be half-perfect? Does a half-perfect book exist? (and is ‘half-perfect’ an oxymoron?); if not I think a half-perfect book totally is real. For me, some elements of this book are perfect, even if - in my opinion - other aspects could be improved. 

Another way you could judge perfection in books is: Has the book achieved its purpose? I personally believe that every book is written for a reason, and that the author wants to make us realise something, learn something, or understand something. I think it must be every author’s dream to hear their book has changed someone! In English class, we’re constantly learning about a book’s message, and how the author wanted us to feel. If a book has changed us in some way, is it perfect?

I can count on one hand the books that have changed me. None of the books featured in that list were perfect, but if I had to choose books that were perfect, I do think these books would be ones I would choose. I didn’t even give one of them 5 stars! However, they all mean so much to me, and have really helped me. They’re perfect because they’ve made my life better, or me a better person.

I think one thing that we can conclude from this is that no book will be perfect for everyone. It’s literally impossible; one book can’t please everyone! The perfect book may exist, but it won’t be perfect for everyone. Does that mean it’s not perfect anymore? Different people will have different opinions on what makes a book perfect, and if a book can be truly perfect, and that’s okay! I think it is subjective to each different reader. 

Some readers will find their perfect book, yet others won’t. I haven’t found my perfect book, though I’m pretty sure some people will have done. Jennifer wrote a great post on critical reading and I think she sums it up perfectly; some people are much more critical than others. I’m extremely critical, so I haven’t found mine, but other people have/might have done.
I asked Twitter if they've found their perfect book, and it seems the majority of people (within my circles) have! This is interesting, because as I said before, I haven't. Maybe it depends on how critical a reader someone is, or maybe just down to how well you know your own personal tastes!

What about you: do you think the perfect book exists? If so, have you found your perfect book?

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