All of the posters make good points. However, many students struggle to find a motivation to read let alone enjoy reading. They start school excited about and wanting to learn to read. At some point, many of them lose this enthusiasm. Many of my students say it's because the drive to read for points (such as Accelerated Reader) as assigned by teachers in middle school, makes reading a chore. Therefore, I would say that what students value in literature is a sense of adventure and fun.
When reading literature, I enjoy a strong and original narrative voice but I also read for ideas. Theme is central to the pleasure I take in reading a good novel or short story, because in large part it is in the theme that the work becomes part of a cultural conversation, where we can begin to talk about what a work means, what it says about life and people and the rest.
Many readers value "understatement" in literature, especially fine literary novels, short stories, as well as poems. They don't like messages, themes, or viewpoints blatantly brow-beaten upon them, where they cry "Okay, I get your point; I get your point." Most readers of quality literary works in literature want to figure things out for themselves and ponder the sometimes double and triple meanings to phrases and scenes the writer writes.
Many readers also value strong imagery in literary works, as well as strong characterization. They wish to empathize with a story's main character - the protagonist of the work, again, whether a novel, short story, or poem. In addition, readers enjoy descriptive settings in stories and poems. They value settings that contribute to the plot and mood of the work.
Moreover, many readers enjoy inevitable endings that surprise, while making logical sense at the same time. These endings are believable, not contrived so that they insult the intelligence of the reader, and uniquely tie up the story and leave readers thinking about the work long after they have put the literary tome down.
I value well drawn characters who go through realistic challenges. To me, seeing how characters react to each other and situations through the mind of a great writer is one of the best reasons for reading. Writers who are skilled at creating realistic characters can teach us a lot about ourselves and life.
I value the ideas and perspectives of an author, the "worlds" that are presented to me, worlds I might otherwise never have even glimpsed, the emotions good literature evokes in me, for example, for the empathy elicited for a particular character. I value the feeling of being one with mankind when I read good literature. And I love the miracle of the written word, that someone can communicate all of this to me across thousands of miles or thousands of years. I also find that good literature allows me to make connections, not just with other literary texts, but also with people, places, and situations in my own life. There is so much about literature that I value that I feel I would be impoverished without it.
Many things--style, message, etc. But an old professor once said to me after I analysed a Shakespeare passage: "The text does not encourage that interpretation." I learned that what I appreciate most is the text, the fact of it, the creation of it -- someone wonderful took the trouble to make it. That's what I appreciate--that it is. I read things very closely, and only respect literature that deserves a close read. Superficial ideas, superficial style, superficial effort--that's the definition ocommodity literature--romance novels, doggerel, etc. Give me Moby Dick, Waiting for Godot, leaves of Grass.
Themes, symbolism, imagery used - e.g metaphors, similes, anaphora etc.
Characters can go a long way in making any literary text memorable, because readers most identify with characters who are well rounded and identifiable either to ourselves or to the people we know. While a piece of literature can be good, how is it memorable if the reader cannot identify with the internal struggles of the characters? How could we truly invest our time in readingThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, unless we as readers recognized and identified something familiar in the title character and his interactions with others, because how many of us have come between a legendary family feud or gone down river to free an enslaved friend (even if he was going in the wrong direction)? Characters, narrator, and point of view are essential in hooking a reader and keeping them on the line, which maybe why so many high school students have difficulties withThe Old Man and the Seabecause how many high school students have experienced the harsh realities of life the way Santiago has?
When I read I am interested to compare first. I need to compare the flexibility of the author when beholding their reality with mine. To check if I can be a part of their reality.
Then I am interested in the development of the mental processes involved in reading activities: if the subject matter is of interest, if it is new for me, if it completes or intrigues me in any way.
I am aware that the book I hold was written for me, as I am one of the target readers, so I never lose the sense of the gift being offered to me. I treasure literature, it is a Universe.
Observing the development of characters is amazing, it involves knowledge and imagination as well.