I’ve asked this question many times. As an avid reader myself, it seems to be a consensus of: an interesting hook, loveable/and or relatable characters and an ability to keep you reading.
The first two issues are easy enough to conquer, but what exactly does the ability to keep you reading entail?
If I lose motivation to go back to a book, it didn’t hold the ability to keep me reading. That is the exact detail I want to avoid when writing, which is easier said than done. It’s tough to be objective on your own work, mainly because the story is swirling around in your head, but also because you don't want to succumb to the same weaknesses you are more than willing to point out to other people. I think sometimes, I’m too picky about which stories I find engaging. For me, it really has to hold everything: I need to love at least one of the characters from the start, I want to connect with what they are going through or feel like I could connect, and I want to read it without saying, wait a minute, why, what, who?
If a story can do all of that, and not only do I want to turn the next page, but I’m prying my eyelids open under a nightlight, just to read one more chapter, then I would say that is the ability to keep you reading. And that is what I am striving for with my own writing.