When you're doing technical design, there are always a lot of variables, and a lot of them are mutually exclusive. If you improve A, B gets worse, etc. Before you start the process of creation, you first ask how the end result will be judged. Besides the standard values of price point and safety, there will be various performance metrics to consider. This criteria is referred to as: the measure of goodness.
A thread on this forum about past voice versus present got me thinking about the subject, so that introductory paragraph was just a way to ask: how do you judge a book? (Actually, asking the question is really just an excuse to tell you how I judge a book...)
When I was in high school, I finished my scifi greats phase (Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke) and discovered Stephen King. It bothered me quite a lot that we never mentioned his name when talking about "literature." That brought me to my first concept of how I defined a good book.
1. The measure of a book is inversely proportional to how easy it is to put down.
Say it's 2am and I've got to get up at 4am to go to work, and I'm reading a book. If I'm up that late with it, it probably ranks pretty high on this scale. If, after looking at the clock, I say "just one more chapter," it skyrockets up the chart.
The second criteria also came from Stephen King. I couldn't help but notice that, after making it through such tomes as It, The Stand, The Dead Zone, and Salem's Lot, I felt a little depressed. Nothing clinical, just down in the dumps.
2. The book evokes a positive emotional response.
I want the warm fuzzy at some point during the book. If I don't get it, the book's rating plummets.
What's your measure of goodness?