Monday, July 30, 2007

How far will you go?

When I began reading romance, I'd read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Granted it was mostly paranormal because that's what I'm largely interested in, but I was open to any author - be it dark or light, funny or serious. The same went with contemporary, I'd read anything. Heck, Eli even started me reading some romantic suspense! Ok, I'll admit, my experience with historicals is limited. Most of the ones I've read have had a paranormal slant.

There's a second part to this: not only would I read anything, once I started a book I couldn't put it down. No matter what. I'd HAVE to finish it. Even if it didn't grab me or draw me in, at least I knew there would be a happily ever after. And frankly, some of my favorite books are ones that took quite a while to catch my interest.

When I went to RWA nationals last year, I was a book grabbing machine. I shipped home more than 100 books. I either bought them, grabbed them from the goodie room, or waited in dozens of lines at publisher book signings. I donated most of them to our annual workshop, but I still kept on to about 40 books.

Over the past year I haven't read as much, so much happened in my life and it got in the way of my reading. So the few things I did read were mostly the newest releases in series I follow by my favorite authors.

Fast forward to RWA nationals a couple of weeks ago. I grabbed very few books. So few that I was able to fit them in my already stuffed suitcase, probably only 20 books or so. I didn't even go to all of the publisher signings.

Here's why: I still have to finish any book that I start. However, knowing that about myself I'm being much more picky about what I do pick up because I have less time to read. I only picked up books by authors I am already familiar with, or ones that really caught me with the back cover blurb. And I NEVER used to care about back cover blurbs. I'm evolving...yikes!

So the point of this is - how far will you go with a book? Will you put a book down if it doesn't catch you in one paragraph, page, chapter? Will you keep reading it no matter what? How do you select the books you'll read?

I find this type of information informative as a reader, knowing what other people do, but also as a writer, giving me an idea about people's breaking points.


Alice Sharpe said...

Man, Lisa, I'm a writer's nightmare.

I'll read a whole book if it's a favorite author with continuing characters, even if I don't like it much. If I like he characters, I'll stick with it.

With a favorite author, I'll read until they fail to grab me for a few pages, if that. And with someone I've never read before, I'll give them a paragraph or two, no more.

Hope your writing is going well. You have a fantastic idea for a book of your own and I promise I'll read that one through start to finish! Good to see you on the blog!


wavybrains said...

I have to finish a book. It's a minor compulsion I have. If it truly sucks, I start skimming. It takes a truly horrid book for me to not finish at all, and then I feel guilty. Weird. But, if I start skimming or have to put it down, I probably won't read anything else by that author. If it's a long time favorite author, they might get a second chance (everyone has an off day), but if it's someone I haven't read, that's usually it for me.

I was also a book grabbing fool in Reno, and over the course of a year and a half, I read all that I grabbed. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of what I read--I encounter far more duds in the books my mother sends me and in the books I get at the library and even those I pick up myself.

Neat topic!

Karen Duvall said...

Lisa, I'm like Alice. Not too forgiving of a book that doesn't grab me. I'll usually give it a couple of chapters, though, because I've had experiences where the book really does get better, but it's rare. Sigh. Oh, and it doesn't matter if the author is familiar, a favorite, or totally unknown. When I read a book, I'm 100% focused on the story, not who wrote it.

I've recently made the mistake of reading a couple of series books out of order. Bad, bad move on my part. I don't care how strongly an author insists their series books are stand alone, it's almost never true. If you didn't read the first one, you quickly get lost in the second, at least that's been the case for the 2 books I'm talking about. One is by Karen Chance (the plot was all over the place and I had no idea what the main character's goal was because it had something to do with whatever happened in book 1). I actually read all the way until 2 chapters from the end (with much skimming), then I stopped because I couldn't care less how things turned out. Another book is Burning Bridges by Laura Ann Gillman. Interesting premise, and I thought it was book #1 when I bought it, but there are so many holes at the beginning that I know there must be another book that comes first. Nothing's listed on the cover copy so I have no idea. Otherwise the book would be quite good.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lisa! Glad to see you're on the blog. I really miss your comments and hanging out on the blog more. ;)

Okay, let's see. Will I go all the way? Hell no. Take for instance the latest disaster I tried to read and failed. Ugh! It's called, To Kiss A Frog. Cute title, grabby cover, lame ass story and characters. A totally boring snoozer.

I totally won't read a book if it fails me in the first chapter or two.

My favorite authors usually come through with great reads, but once in a while even they bore me; however, I'll usually stick through the whole story and read the sequels if there are any because I'm faithful to my favorites. :)

New authors have to grab me quickly because otherwise I tend to wander.

One thing I've noticed is that I can't get back into the Harry Potter series. I read the first four, saw the latest movie based on book five, decided to read book five because I enjoyed the movie, read the first chapter and gave up. It's back on the shelf. I just can't do it. I've moved on. ;)

How do I choose books? Good question. I always buy my favorite author's stuff. Always. But as far as new stuff goes, I take a look at the lists my favorite authors suggest and they're usually on the same page as me so it works out. Other times I've gone to the book store and talked with the clerks and have taken their suggestions. This has worked out a few times. Pretty covers catch my eye of course, but I have to be swept away by the first few paragraphs while at the store in order to buy a new author. So I guess the best way to get me to buy someone new is to make the first few paragraphs great, then when I get the book home, the first few chapters better hold true to the reason I bought it in the first place.

I'm not a reader who goes for a lot of change. I read pretty much the same sort of things because I read the same authors all the time. I like the comfort zone of dependable authors. But I'm not opposed to trying new things, they just have to be fabulous/fascinating to keep me faithful. LOL

And you, little missy Lisa, have had a lot of crap to deal with this last year. I don't blame you for being where you're at right now with the whole reading/writing gig. Things you've had to deal with take a lot out of a person and you've every good excuse and right to slow down and sort out life a little first. When you're ready, you'll fall back into the groove.

Fun blog post to think about. Makes me realize I'm a bit predictable. :)

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I'm like Wavy. There are few books I don't finish, though I find myself putting more and more down lately. (okay, like the last two. LOL) I'm currently in the middle (chapter 6, I think) of a book by a friend, and I'm struggling. It's not holding my attention at all, I don't like either the hero or heroine, and frankly I could care less if these two get together or not. But I feel guilty putting it down because I personally know the author. However, I'm a read-a-book-in-two-days kind of reader, and I've been struggling with this one for nearly three weeks. I think that tells me quite a bit.

ROFL, Piper. I couldn't get past chapter 3 of the frog book either!!! I'm glad it wasn't just me.

Lisa Pulliam said...

Alice, the majority of writers I've talked to about this are like you. I suppose I reason it as having to split time between reading and writing, so you have to be a bit more picky about where that time goes.

I've been brainstorming a bit more, still haven't written much...hoping to! I'll hold you to that promise ;)

Wavy, I feel guilty too! Glad I'm not alone with the compulsion! Right now I'm reading Nora Roberts' vampire series and I've been working on the books for a couple months now. Halfway through the third and I can only manage a page or two a day, if I'm lucky. I'm so thoroughly bored, but I've already read the first two so by golly I'm going to finish the third! I should just use toothpicks to hold my eyelids open and git 'er duuuuun.

Karen, I've done that with a couple of series and definitely regretted it. One of my favorite series was published out of order from the way they were written, the Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands, but it all works out when you read them all. I was pleasantly surprised to have one author at a publisher signing in Dallas tell me that I really should read the first book before reading the one I got for free (the 2nd one). She said they are technically stand-alone, but the first has a big cliffhanger leading to the 2nd. I was glad she was so honest! If I would have read the 2nd, been confused, I likely wouldn't have read her books again. But her telling me that will make me go buy the first and really give them a chance.

Piper, I am an avid reader, I just haven't been commenting nearly as much as I should lol. I, too, have been choosing more and more unknown-to-me authors by covers. Most of those have been light contemporaries and I go for the bright-colored (ok, I admit it, pink!) covers. But I only have grabbed HEA contemps, not chick-lit. I used to love chick-lit, but I not want the couple to be together in the end - with no questions.

Ok you two (Piper and Eli) - I liked To Kiss a Frog!!! It was slow starting for what I usually read, but it's one of the ones I stuck through and ended up enjoying it. I thought it was pretty cute. Granted I don't remember a whole lot about it, but I also have a terrible memory. I read it as part of a reader's choice contest almost 1.5 years ago and out of the five books I got, it was my fave (in the paranormal category).

Eli, I know exactly what you mean! It really says something if it's taking that long to read. I also usually finish a book in a couple of days. There are weeks where I would read 2-4 books. But these Nora books, man. I just can't do it! You are in a bit of a pickle by actually knowing the author. Just keep on truckin'!

Paty Jager said...

I know I'm late!

If a book doesn't grab me by two chapters I don't continue unless I know the author and then I'll give it more time.

Genene said...

How far will I go? Not as much as one kiss if I'm not completely enamored of the book! OK, I'm not that harsh. However, I have four boxes of books waiting to be read and I only read about one book a month any more because I have so many other things going. So, if I'm not totally pulled in by the first few pages, I skim a few more if it's an author I've enjoyed in the past. If I'm still not hooked, I put it in my giveaway pile to go to someone who will give it a good home.

How do I pick out books? If I know the author, if the one and only bookseller I trust recommends it, if the cover grabs me or the back cover blurb sounds interesting. If it's a hardcover on the clearance table for $2. If the stars and moon are aligned just right ... Yep, I guess I'm a writer's nightmare.

Perhaps my one saving grace is that I will read just about any kind of romance, except maybe erotic vampire stories. LOL! Though I could be tempted by those if the concept was clever and the writing exceptional!