It seems to me there are two kinds of readers. Those who MUST FINISH EVERY BOOK they start, and those who will drop a book like a hot tomato if they’re not impressed.
I’d hazard a guess that it’s impossible for one group to understand the other’s point a view. (lol)
I’m definitely in Camp Drop-it-if-it-sucks. Ouch. That sounds kinda harsh, but Camp Drop-it-if-it’s-not-working-for-you doesn’t have the same rhythm. And you know how I am about rhythm.
(Jump HERE if you want to read my post about rhythm in writing.)
This post was prompted by a chat I had recently. My friend Sheryl messaged me about a book she was reading, a contemporary romance where the author seriously misjudged how real life works. I don’t want to point fingers at any particular author, so let’s just say that most bands don’t make enough money for each member to have their own touring bus.
Even Mick & Keith have to share, y’all.
That’s the kind of error that would make me doubt every other word the author put on the page. It turns on my inner editor, and once she starts, there’s no way I’m going to be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the book.
Factual errors might be the biggest bump for me – like the book where the heroes went home to Canada in late November to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Um….Canadian Thanksgiving is in October.
Then there was the book where a character was supposed to be in a hospital on a ventilator and he had a conversation with another character. Can’t be done, but for some reason I kept reading that one and mostly enjoyed it.
I could come up with other examples, though to be honest, I’m guilty of a mistake or two myself. One of the reviews for my book Aqua Follies pointed out that Skip could not have worked at the Everett Boeing plant in 1955, because that site didn’t open until the late ’60s.
My friend Sheryl says she’s going to finish the book that prompted our chat, because it’s one of a series and she wants to see it through. Others might say they want to finish out of respect for the author’s work, which I can’t really argue with.
Still, I pretty much adhere to Nancy Pearl’s Rule of Fifty. For those of you who haven’t heard of Nancy, she’s a librarian and best-selling author, and her book reviews on NPR have guided many readers for years. (Jump HERE to see all her books.)
Nancy’s Rule of Fifty goes something like this…
Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you’re really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you’re not, then put it down and look for another….And if, at the bottom of Page 50, all you’re really interested in is who marries whom, or who the murderer is, then turn to the last page and find out. If it’s not on the last page, turn to the penultimate page, or the antepenultimate page, or however far back you have to go to discover what you want to know.The Globe & Mail, 2/4/11
Even better, she’s modified her rule for those of us over the age of 50. It’s a variation of “So many books, so little time” (Which is apparently a Frank Zappa quote. The things you learn on google!) If you’re over 50, subtract your age from 100 and that’s the number of pages you get to read before deciding whether or not to put the book down.
By adhering to this rule, I mean no disrespect to authors. If you start one of my books and it’s not working for you, you have my permission to put it down and pick up something else. Scan the Amazon or Goodreads reviews for any book, and you’ll see a range of opinions. The same book might get 5-star reviews from some and 1-star reviews from others.
Reading should be fun and moving, and it should feed your soul. I mean, it motivated Sheryl to message me because she cared enough about the book to want to talk about it.
Life’s too short to read past page 42 if the book’s a clunker. One person’s clunker is another’s lifetime top ten.
Which type of reader are you?