Having just read three novels, I’ve come up with a theory about the quality of books. Namely, if a book withstands rereading at least once, it’s probably good. Additionally, if a book that reads well initially does not lend itself to rereading, it may not be as good as your initial impressions gave it.
I say this because the rereadability of the three novels I bought (Metaplanetary, Flashforward and The Light of Other Days) correlates very well with their actual quality. I found all three relatively entertaining while I read them, although Metaplanetary held my attention the best, followed by Flashforward. However, I discovered that I physically could not reread Flashforward. I had no favorite sections, and it struck me that for a large portion of the novel, nothing actually happened.
I could reread sections of The Light of Other Days, but it wore off after a while due to the blandness of the setting. Two weeks after I bought Metaplanetary, I still reread passages every so often; true, it’s perhaps 50% longer than the other two books, but my time spent rereading it doesn’t scale. Not only does a lot happen in it, but it’s also interesting. My past experience with good books agrees with all of this – the books I reread tend to be of a decent quality.
Of course, this doesn’t always apply. I can think of a few great books which I simply don’t feel like rereading, and I can think of a few average books which, for whatever reason, I continually reread.