I was a holdout on Lost for a long time. I watched the pilot and the first few episodes and wasn't hooked. Over the past few years I've seen a handful of episodes from different seasons and, though I enjoyed speculating about what that crazy smokey dragon is or whether Richard Alpert is wearing guyliner, I still didn't get the appeal and was not drawn into the byzantine and myriad plots or the strange mythos of THE ISLAND ZOMG. I kept thinking to myself, "What, Gilligan's Island meets Myst? Surely you jest, J.J.!"
I did watch the "summary" hour before this season's premier, and now I feel I've got enough information to really enjoy the show. Some people have derided me for doing this, since I apparently lack the patience and focus to watch a show that generates ten questions for every answer it provides for five. Whole. Years.
This got me thinking, then, author-acquaintances (thanks, Le R!): would you read Lost if it were a book? (Sidebar: I really enjoyed Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, which is the closest thing to Lost-as-a-book that I can think of.) In the case of Lost, however, you'd have (in my opinion) a book with an infinitely long introduction, a well-paced (though brief) climax, and a rushed and unsatisfying denouement (my prediction, based on Alias), not to mention a cast of characters that is way too large and unwieldy. Yeah, The Simpsons can pull it off, but they've been on the air for twenty years. Baby steps.
Therefore, prithee, inform me: what, in general, makes a good story (apart from—or perhaps in spite of—the oft-heard elements of "rich characters, engaging plot," &c)? What about a book makes you read it, re-read it, love it, recommend it?