When thinking of what you look for in a novel, there are many things that can come to mind.
Of course, you probably want an interesting plot, brilliant characters, quote-able dialogue, and a conflict that keeps you at the edge of your seat.
Maybe you want a steamy romance, or lots of action, or something that will give you nightmares after you go to sleep at three in the morning since you stayed up all night to finish the book in the first place.
Sure, all of these things are great.
But are they the most important thing? The ultimate goal?
I don't think so.
I am going to pull a challenge question here, and ask... why do you read?
Um...because it is what I do? Why do you breathe? Why do you eat? That's why I read, to stay alive.
Yeah, that is something that I would probably say. But I think there is another answer that probably answers the question a lot more than that response does.
I read to escape.
I read to escape reality, to escape all my problems, to escape myself.
I read to be able to take all the things that I don't want to deal with, all the average and the ordinary, and push them aside. I read to be able to become someone else, to feel for other people. To have the character's problems instead of my own.
I read to go on an adventure. To do the impossible. I read to be extraordinary.
I don't read to be alive.
No, I read to live.
So, maybe I do judge a book on all those little things. That plot development, those characters. The grammar and the diction choice and how realistic the world created feels and whether or not there is flow in the sentences and hopefully avoiding the use of run on sentences like the one I am typing out right now.
But, really, all of that can be pushed aside. In the long run, does it really matter if there were a few grammar mistakes? If the plot was a little predictable? If the characters annoyed you a little bit?
If you were able to be transported into a different world... If those words were able to shoot right into your heart, getting you to feel something - anything... If you were able to just escape from reality and live so much more because this fiction is what exists and everything outside of it just doesn't matter... If you were able to live...
Then it wasn't a waste. It wasn't a failure. It was the closest thing to magic that this world has.
And that is why I read.