Friday, March 19, 2010

What do you read for?

I've got a time crunch right now, so I have few, but treasured moments, to read for pleasure. Something I think is common amongst many women out there.

Because of this, I've become incredibly picky about what I'm reading. Lately, the best books I've read have either been in YA, or literary fiction and all were recommended by writer friends.

And all in some way managed to surprise me. One key thing that needs to be present for me to really love a book is the element of surprise. I can accept a lot of faults in a book, but what I have serious issues with is when I can predict where the book is headed.

If I can forsee the events of the story, then I quickly lose interest. I can accept less than steller characterization, and even some plotholes if a story takes me places I did not expect.

I'm curious about what makes a story readable for everyone else. Is there anyone element that will elevate a book into keeper status?

6 comments:

Karen W said...

What makes a book a keeper for me is characterization. That's what keeps me going back to writers like Kristin Hannah. Barbara Samuel (Barbara O'Neal now) is good at both characterization and description - her prose is so beautiful sometimes, it hurts. Oh, and right now I can't put down the new (and HUGE) Stephen King book, The Dome. It has that element of surprise, plus so much going on that I don't get bored.

Eileen said...

I don't think any one thing can keep me in a story. I need close to a full package these days. I just finished John Lescroat's The Hunt Club. Awesome characters. Great dialogue. Fabulous twisty plot. Totally amazing at bringing a setting to life. A narrative drive that kept me flipping pages.

I'm reading a different author now (I'm not going to name names on this one). It's got great narrative drive, but the rest of the book is kind of a hot mess. Waayyyyy too much back story. Somewhat wooden characters. Prose so clunky that I had to go back to reread sentences three or four times before I was sure of what she meant. That narrative drive thing has taken me to the middle of the book, but now the other stuff is getting so annoying that I'm going to put it down.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Good question. What do I read for??? I'm going to say story. Quirky cool characters can be great but if the story isn't interesting it loses me.

Believability as well. Doesn't matter if it's futuristic/paranormal or whatever... I have to be in the story. In the book. If an author does that - where I stop thinking that I'm reading a book and I'm just experiencing the action and drama... that's a keeper.

Hunger Games... amazing in that regard. I was there instantly and completely and without a whole lot of set up and explanation. I just knew what the world was.

Maureen McGowan said...

I like to be surprised, too. And have some questions that keep me moving forward.

Molly O'Keefe said...

OH Maureen beat me too it -- questions, a little mystery it can be plot or character - I don't care, there just has to be a question I need answered. Who is this guy? Where did she come from? What the hell just happened? It doesn't matter which questions, they just have to be there and anchored in something really intriguing and intriguing usually happens when there's no explanation, it's just voice voice voice.

say for instance like Eileen's Don't Kill the Messenger - picked it up last night and stayed up waaaaaaaay too late reading it. Loads of questions. All of them fun. All of them keep the pages turning.

susanhatler said...

I have to know and care about the characters. When they feel like strangers, I have a hard time finishing the book. I love an unpredictable book, but that's bonus for me. :)

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