>What makes a great book?

>I read/watched War and Peace recently (I read the first couple of books and then switched to watching the BBC series) and I have to say it really is quite brilliant. The reason I find it so brilliant is that no matter what Tolstoy is writing about he doesn’t get bored or seek to rush on to a more action packed moment. This means of course less sales. But it also means Tolstoy is able to weave a truly epic tale based not on pure fiction and exageration but on normal life. As the title suggests it deals with the lives of Russian aristocrats during the Napoleonic Wars both in peaceful times and in war. It follows a huge number of characters, and its effort to describe all aspects of life, rather than just those that sell more books, mean that he’s able to develop a wonderful character in Pierre. Pierre is a confused philosophical character, who up until reading/watching War and Peace I wasn’t sure if any book could do justice to due to the depth of character inherent in such philosophically minded people.
But pick up the book not knowing of its reputation and you’ll probably put it down through boredom or confusion with all the different names in the first couple of chapters. So what is it that makes a great book? Is it the characters? Is it the writing? Is it just the presence of something new and interesting? Is it the action? What entertains us and makes us buy new books? And how are we able to appreciate books such as War and Peace and at the same time read tabloids and books designed for children?

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