To Read or Not To Read by Kristen Heitzmann

The other night between 12:30 and 4:00 when sleep eluded me, I began a quest to winnow the titles on my Kindle. As Camy Tang said in a previous post, collecting a long list of books to read is easier than getting through them. As with music playlists, I want every song that plays to be one I enjoy, so why have books around that I won’t like when I open them to read? In my music collection are a vast spectrum of styles from baroque to praise to Danish death metal–something for every mood. LOL.

I also read in a variety of genres with one criterion–it grabs me, woos me, impresses, amuses, or enlightens me. I love a story that makes me yearn. I love language so well-crafted it makes me sigh. I love characters I want to know. That’s what I want waiting for me when I open a new book. So in my quest for order among the chaos, I went title by title. I looked it up, read the synopsis and went to the reviews. What an enlightening experience.

It was like a huge critique group. Some thought the story the best they’d ever read. Others cringed at having to give one star. Some said the books were too complicated; others liked the complexity. But what really intrigued me was what the readers said they wanted in a story, what appealed or irritated them about the characters. Was the book true to the genre? Was it original or in any way set apart? Poor or no editing was an automatic dis-qualifier for me, though apparently that isn’t universally recognized.

The thing that came clear was that readers want to like a book. So many said, “I really, really wanted to like this, but for these reasons I couldn’t.” And of course there were the glowing reviews that expressed the things that left them wanting more. So, my question is what makes a book a keeper–or not–for you?

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8 Responses to To Read or Not To Read by Kristen Heitzmann

  1. lovnitt says:

    Characters above all else–except, of course good writing. I want to be drawn running through the book, but dragging my feet so it never ends. 🙂

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  2. imabrassy1 says:

    I want a book to grab me ideally in the first paragraph or sometime within the first couple of chapters. If a book drags or bounces too much I get bored and quit it. I have hung on to some books to the halfway point and then stop. I have one on my headboard that I started back last year and I slogged to halfway and felt like my time could be better spent on something else. I read a lot. I read 200 books last year and I’m aiming for at least 205 this year. I’ve got a lot to read to make it because i’m only on 131, Some books take me longer to read but, usually about a day and a half. It’s got to have a good plot, good characters, and some humor for me to really enjoy it.

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  3. Erica says:

    The very first thing that grabs my attention, is the blurb(of course a nice cover helps), but the summary on the back of the book gives me a quick over-view to allow me to make a decision if I want to read it or not. Kind of like those neat little movie trailers we see on YouTube.

    However once I begin to read, I need to feel something for the character immediately: whether it is that I hate them or want to learn more- it has to grab me by the front of my shirt and make me read more.

    For instance, I just finished a book by Leah Raeder called, “Unteachable”(not a Christian book at all) and from the blurb and page one, I knew I would be hooked.

    Books with poor editing and such can throw me off as a reader as well, but joy can be salvaged if it is a great story.

    Great post!

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  4. Grab-you-by-the-front-of-your-shirt is a great way to express what authors want to accomplish. And yes, a story can be worth working through the errors IF they are formatting issues, but, for me, not if it’s wrong word usage etc.

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  5. Wendy says:

    Well-crafted writing writing draws me in and compelling characters keep me involved. Bad editing leaves “speed bumps” which pull me out of the story; bad story arcs or plot lines leave me disbelieving and shaking my head. Good writing and vivid characters, however, hook me and won’t let me go. For example, the Michellis in Secrets and Unforgotten did that for me…

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