Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Cranky Reader

Random things I've noticed about reading:

  • There are piles of books I love, and other piles I return to the library unfinished. When I was a kid, I read pretty much everything I picked up. No longer being able to do this is something of an occupational hazard of writing. 
  • Plots that hinge on failure to communicate need big-time, compelling, convincing motivation for that failure.
  • Presently, I'm really tired of contemporary novels with dysfunctional moms.
  • I'm in a plot phase. I want something happening that keeps me turning pages.
  • If I reach a point where I can't remember why I'm reading a particular book, it makes me feel like the characters and author are self-indulgent.
  • I love beautiful language and quotable lines.
  • I love compelling emotion and motivations I believe in my very bones.
  • I love an overarching and at least somewhat concrete goal that the MC must accomplish by story's end. When I'm a third or halfway through the book and have lost sight of this, I get antsy.
  • I love a lot of books, but I'm not blown away by many. The last MG novel that blew me away was Splendors and Glooms.
What have you noticed about reading lately?


Leandra Wallace said...

I've been going through a string of 'okay, but not amazing' here lately. Tho I was put in a slight depression from reading The Luck Uglies, b/c it was FANTASTIC and I want everything to be that great. I also want the second book like NOW!

Marcia said...

Leandra -- I'd not heard of those. There are so many books I've not heard of! Hope you don't have to wait too long till book 2.

Barbara Watson said...

Same is true for me -- I now stop reading books that aren't what I thought they'd be. As for the dysfunctional moms, I'm there with you, and I'll also throw in sick or dying (or dead) dads.

Marcia said...

Barbara -- Yeah, I have a dead dad in a finished ms. After this, I plan to be keeping all parents alive for some time to come. :)

Emily R. King said...

See, I didn't really groove to Splendor and Gloom. As you said, the hazard of writing. :)

Marcia said...

Emily -- Sometimes subjectivity is comforting: there's something for everyone and no one thing is for everybody. And sometimes subjectivity is scary: we're all just wild-guessing as to what readers will like.

Kelly Hashway said...

I find I like a lot of books too but aren't blown away by them. I wonder why that is.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm a tad weary of "bad" mom stories, too. I wrote my first book with one of those characters, but I made up for it with my second one. The mom in that one was a stand up person to be admired.

I'm wondering if we're not being awed because we're being inundated with stories and they're beginning to be very much alike. Yet, I do find some gems and I get so excited when I do.

Mirka Breen said...

About twenty years back I stopped reading books when I no longer wanted to. Once I gave myself permission, half the books I started went that-a-way.
I always crave wisdom from what I read. Give me insight. Make me feel richer, not depleted, by the story.

Marcia said...

Kelly -- I guess being blown away is just a lot rarer. It's the rare book that actually reaches that level.

Lee -- Yeah. We're being inundated, and the last three I read were SO alike. One of them had particularly lovely writing, and I haven't given up on it yet, but I'm not sure if the writing is going to overcome the fact of "same premise, same plot." Well, I know it doesn't, but I mean I'm not sure if I'll finish.

Mirka -- Me too. Probably longer ago than that. The only place I had to read books I didn't like was English class. And, yeah, it's at least half.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Thanks for the follow! My next blog post is about this very thing. Few books blow me away anymore. And I simply walk away from a book I can't stand (never could do this when I was younger). I think you're right that it's a hazard of being a writer and seeing everything more critically. I wasn't blown away by a recent overly-hyped YA novel because they TELL you there's a shocking twist. So your mind is constantly looking for it.

I think the dead dad thing (and yes, I've written these) is a reaction to so many years of "dead mom" stories. In my next book, both parents are alive and well. :)

Marcia said...

Joanne -- Isn't it interesting that that's maybe a bit of a downside to what we would normally consider successful publicity? There's a lot for a hyped story to live up to, plus some of us are just going to balk at being told ahead of time that a scene is shocking, devastating, etc. Something in us is skeptical about bowing to what we've been told we'll feel.