Finding a Good Book

I’ve had a much harder time lately finding something I want to read. In some cases it seems to have to do with changing tastes. I may have enjoyed a book one to three years ago, but now that the next book in the trilogy is out, I’m no longer interested.

In other cases, the premise of the book interests me enough to start reading but I don’t make it past the first few chapters. Sometimes, I make it to the end of the book because I’m curious about how it all turns out even though I haven’t enjoyed the reading experience, but I won’t pick up the sequel. Below are the common reasons.

  • The beginning doesn’t hook me and doesn’t live up to the promise of the jacket flap.
  • The writing is poor. Too much passive voice, the voice doesn’t match the age of the character, repetitive words. (This occurs in both indie-published and traditionally-published work, as do all of the reasons listed here.)
  • I can’t relate to the main character.
  • The main character doesn’t change by the end of the book, or s/he doesn’t solve what seems to be the story problem.

On the other hand, desperation has led me to take some chances in choosing reading material, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Some gambles pay off.

So, my piece of advice for today is, don’t let all the coal keep you from continuing your search for the diamonds. And of course, as writers, we need to hook the reader from the beginning, write well, make the main character relatable, make sure s/he changes over the course of the story, and s/he must solve the story problem.

What book surprised you recently?

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9 Comments

Filed under Reading, writing

9 responses to “Finding a Good Book

  1. I hear you on not relating to a character. That’s a real must for me. As of late, I guess the book the surprised me was The Blood Keeper. Seriously, it was awesome.

  2. I was surprised, but in a very not so happy way. I bought this book knowing I loved EVERYTHING else this author wrote. I bought it knowing it was about the era and the topic I was researching and so… I was sure I would love it. Positive.

    I forced myself to read 17 pages. I went back and tried two more. So fair it’s character description, social values, but I have no idea who is the main character since nothing is happening. And the voice is not one I’m enjoying, but I’m not sure who’s voice it even is. Very disappointed. Don’t you hate that when you get your hopes up and have them smashed one word at a time?

  3. The Prairie Thief is a good example of a book I expected to like but not to love. And guess what happened? I fell in love with it. 🙂
    I do have to say I agreed with your points however I’m a hopeless “book finisher”. No matter how meh a book is I still force myself to finish reading it.
    I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not though.

  4. I know what you mean about finishing a book because you want to see how it ends, but not enjoying the reading experience. It has happened to me a couple of times this year. Other books, I’ve read, (and I won’t name them out of respect for the author) have been based on recommendations and suggestions of friends or even because of amazing reviews, but while reading them, I find myself wondering how the book got such awesome reviews. I read a couple of books last year that I really liked, up until the end. I was recently, really into a book, loving it, actually- until I realized that the protagonist was always getting herself into deep trouble and she was never the one to save the day or even rescue herself. The love interest or a secondary character was always showing up at the last minute to save her butt. It was disappointing because the plot was complex and mysterious, the characters pretty good and the conflict and stakes were on target. I was on the edge of my seat, and then~ plop~ here comes someone to rescue her again.

    On a more positive note, I read a boat load of awesome books in 2012 and so far I am loving the majority of what I’ve read in 2013.

  5. I was very pleasantly surprised by Saving Halloween by Lisa Ard. I thought it would be a rehash of other stories, but it turned out to be quite charming and original. It’s appropriate for ages 7-12 and a good read any time of year, not just Halloween. 🙂

  6. I read Claude and Camille, by Stephanie Cowell. Wonderful book.

  7. Hi, again. Thanks for stopping by my new bog and commenting.

  8. I rarely read sequels – only one or two a year. So I know what you mean!!! I’m always attracted by the bright shiny new idea or character, and I’ve gotten so I don’t continue reading anything if that first chapter doesn’t really suck me in (unless it’s an award winner like Code Name Verity) I’d really have to agree with you on “can’t relate to the main character” – that’s the main deal breaker for me. I can’t say I’ve run across any poor writing persay, it’s just that I’ve got to connect pretty quick and I’m always chasing a new shiny idea!

    The Archived is my best discovery so far this year! I will definitely read its sequel.

  9. Totally hear you! Lately I’ve been devouring Jeanienne Frost’s paranormal romances (they’re adult, not erotic, but steamy). She does a great job of developing the romance, but keeping the action going–I need lots of action to keep me reading, LOL!

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