Friday, July 01, 2011

When Readers Throw in the Towel

I'm participating in the Book Blogger Hop this weekend hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books. It's been aaaaaages since I've linked up with this meme and I really shouldn't have neglected it for so long. It's a great way to meet literate folks.

Jennifer asks a question each week and this week's topic is:

"What keeps you reading beyond the first few pages of a book, and what makes you want to stop reading a book and put it back on the shelf?"

I love the way Jennifer worded the question. Truth is, book bloggers can be as tough as literary agents on the novels they read. Many only give it a few pages to grab their attention.

I'm not quite that tough, but I've come to the conclusion if a book is not working for me, I need to move on to the next review copy in my pile. I usually give novels three to five chapters to catch my attention, sometimes more if there's a certain spark I like.

Taste is subjective, but the things that make me stop reading a book are:

1. Excessive cursing.

I may like edgy, but there's only so much a gal can take, ya know? This is usually not a problem in Christian fiction (especially not from large publishers), but I have been pitched some edgy fiction from smaller presses that had excessive cursing in the sample chapter. Once I was pitched a Christian fiction book with a curse in the title! #marketingfail

2. Bad theology in Christian fiction.

I've only run across this once and I'll refrain from naming the book. It was a very popular fiction book that I couldn't finish due to the theology. Some things are too sacred to play with.

3. Magic Sex*

I've never seen this in Christian fiction, but it happens in general market romance all the time. It's when the hero and heroine sleep with each other and then fall madly in love. It's one of the reasons I don't read general market romance

(*I didn't make up this term, but it fits don't you think?)

4. Poor editing

For school teachers, spelling and grammar mistakes in a published novel pop out like a student blowing bubbles in class (if only I could find them in my own writing as easily). I'll forgive the occasional typo, but too many is a turn-off.

5. Stylistic faults too distracting to ignore.

Some writers find it hard to read for fun after they start writing. They can't enjoy a story without turning off the craft critique happening in their heads.

But not me. I read like a reader (which probably means I'm not so great at this writing thing yet).

For me, story still trumps craft. If I get wrapped up in the story, I'm unlikely to notice faults in the writing style of a professionally edited novel. And if I do notice them, I'm apt to forget and forgive.

Occasionally I'll find an author's writing style too distracting to ignore. Once I start tripping over clich├ęs, purple prose, or point of view problems I lose all interest in the story.

So book bloggers, please chime in here. Do you finish every book you start? If not, how long do you give it?


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