Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Not So Fast...

Life is short.

Too short to spend on a mediocre read.

With that in mind, I no longer slog through a book that doesn’t ‘wow’ me. If I’m not hooked in the first 40 (50 at the most) pages, I’m out.

Contest entries are the exception the rule. I read the entire book – no matter what.

I was yawning through an entry yesterday, when BAM! The author hit me with a twist that turned the book around and totally sucked me in. I suddenly understood why the heroine was so pushy and borderline obnoxious. She would need that aggression and more to overcome the huge obstacle the author had thrown at her.

The book kept me up all night, but if it hadn’t been a contest entry I would have tossed it aside at page 40 and missed out on a fantastic read.

The experience has me rethinking how long I’ll give a book before giving up on it.

How many pages do you give a story, before giving up?


G said...

About two pages.

I'm a bit strange when it comes to books.

Usually when I'm browsing the new fiction/non fiction shelves at the library, if I see a book with an interesting title/jacket blurb, I'll pick it up and randomly open the book and start reading. If those two pages grab me, I'll read the inside jacket blurb and the first couple of pages. If it continues to hook, I'll check it out and read it, and it will usually take me less than three days to read it from cover to cover.

Jess said...

I used to give a book a few pages but that's not happening any more. Seems it's taking as many as 50-100 pages for a book to grab me. I've wondered if I'm the problem or if authors are taking more time getting into their stories. I've decided it's the latter.

I'm judging some contest entries too. Zipped through two books with no problem then came to a screeching halt. Had to reboot. The book finally grabbed me on page 60. {{sigh}} I really appreciate fast reads!

Phyllis Bourne said...

@G - I also use the blurb and the first few pages to help me decide. Sometimes I'll download the first chapter for free on Amazon, and if it hooks me I buy or borrow from the library.

@Jess - I've cut first chapters because I was simply taking too long to set things up, instead of inviting the reader right into the story.

Like you, I love fast reads.

Thanks for stopping by, y'all!

Charles Gramlich said...

if I make it past 10 pages or so I'll usually go through the whole thing. I hate to abandon books, although I do sometimes just scan those that aren't capturing me.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Can you imagine how many potentially great books are rejected because the editor is not sucked in by the first few pages? I am really glad the editor of my first book saw through the clutter and realized what I wrote had potential. Why? I had to cut out at least five begining chapters and it made the book much better. (To my credit I did edit it like that before the editor made her recommendations).

But I'm not an editor. When I read, it is for pleasure, not torture. Therefore if the first few pages don't grab me, it's back of the shelf time. That's just the way it is.

Liane Spicer said...

I used to read to the very end every book I started, no matter how tedious or annoying.

No more. My time is too precious to waste on books that take 40 pages to pull me in. As for the very worst offenders, the ones with sustained poor writing - and I'm talking the basics here, like spelling, grammar and sentence construction - they get tossed pronto. I eschewed the red marker when I quit teaching high school; any book that makes me want to grab one and start circling stuff is out.

Anonymous said...

For me, the number of pages is irrelevant to my patience with a book. I'll soldier on with most, but only if I think there's a chance of it improving. If it becomes obvious that it won't, for whatever reasons, then it gets abandoned. As others have said, time is too precious.

For example, I'm glad I persevered with Brick Lane, as I was starting to get bored until around page 150! In the end I liked the story, though I don't rate the film.

Liane Spicer said...

Interesting you should mention Brick Lane, Captain. Great example of how subjective reading can be. I enjoyed the entire read; my sister was bored throughout. She summed it up thus: "Dhal and rice, dhal and rice, more dhal and rice... Ugh!"