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?