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View Full Version : What do you look for in a book?



CountessaLuna
10-28-2008, 11:25 PM
Wow, there's so many topics I'm not entirely sure where to post this ^_^Vv

I just thought it might be interesting to ask what you (as writers) look for in a book to read. Also do you find yourself constantly trying to fix what's in a book at times? I know I do a little lol.

As for myself, I know it's horrible, but I really do tend to look at the cover art and the title to hook me in. In which has actually helped me to keep from those waste-of-time books more.

Comments guys! Comments!!! =P

Edmontonian
10-29-2008, 12:37 AM
Hello,

I like a well-written book, as I believe we are wordsmiths. I mainly read or listen to thrillers, so my comments apply mainly to this category.

The plot of a thriller needs to be woven carefully, without major holes or inconsistencies, which cause me to drop my disbelief. I'm a difficult kind of guy to please, when it comes to books, and I always find myself fixing the plot or the scenes. Why make something good, when you can make it better? And please don't drag everything just for the sake of the word count.

The language and the phrases also need to be crafted with passion and credibility, void of vulgarity and without an overdose of details, especially those topic-oriented, when the main message of the dialogue is lost amidst the scientific lingo. I understand submarine technicians and helicopter pilots talk in their own jargon (sometime), but most of the readers are common people. Just tell me the guy fixes submarines and let him speak English.

Then, of course, the cover art, the title and the blurbs in the back have to be in harmony with the content of the book. I find myself very disappointed when the title of the book reveals nothing about the contents of the work.

Thanks,

ED

Karen Duvall
10-29-2008, 12:43 AM
Great characters I can really care about. The plot means absolutely nothing without memorable characters to drive it.

Spiny Norman
10-29-2008, 12:51 AM
I had an absent-minded roommate who constantly used dollar bills as bookmarks. After two years of living with him, yeah, I pretty much immediately look for that.

Ken
10-29-2008, 01:02 AM
a scenario I can relate to in some way or other.

Lady Cat
10-29-2008, 01:34 AM
The title or cover will catch my attention first, the blurb on the back will get me to buy it.

I like paranormal settings, a strong connection between the main characters, and lots of action.

tehuti88
10-29-2008, 01:36 AM
Well, firstly I look at the subject or genre I'm interested in reading. :D Covers might catch my eye, but if the blurb on the back doesn't match the type of stuff I like to read, the book could have bells and whistles and flashing red lights on it and I still wouldn't buy it.

Then, I have to admit, I look to see if it's part of a series or is standalone. Because I just am not patient enough to buy one part of a series and wait for the rest to come out (when our store probably won't even pick them all up). Which means that, although I write almost primarily fantasy, and write almost primarily series, I read woefully little of either.

If all the books of the series are there and look interesting then I'm all for it! But that usually doesn't happen, of course.

But I confess I read very little fiction because there just isn't much fantasy out there that's really original anymore (i. e., that doesn't feature boy wizards or elves or vampires or something). I write the kind of stuff I'd love to find on shelves.

Finally I browse a few pages and see if the writing style draws me in or not. I tried this with the "Twilight" book despite it being about vampires (I thought, they have all volumes of the series on the shelf, people rave about it, maybe it's good?). I did not like the style, so put it back.

Such is life.

That's how I choose books. Even online. I adore being able to browse the tables of contents and back covers of some books at Amazon.


Also do you find yourself constantly trying to fix what's in a book at times? I know I do a little lol.

I never used to, but now I do, unfortunately a lot. One example, I'm of the "Prologues are part of the story! Read them, damn it!" school, yet with the book I'm reading right now, I found myself thinking, "Ah, the writer obviously used this actiony prologue to cover up the fact that Chapter 1 is rather slow to start the story." Then realized that I've done the same thing myself. But I'm not changing my story, darn it, I'll just make it less obvious! :o

Word Jedi
10-29-2008, 02:13 AM
Recently I've been reading more short stories. I have been extrememly disappointed lately with novels. Maybe I don't have the patience I used to have for them. I don't know.

For instance, I could only get halfway through Baldacci's "The Camel Club." He went too far creating sympathy for the bad guys in the story.

Currently I'm trying very hard to make it through Ted Bell's "Hawke." The prose is just a little over the top.

I like short stories that have meaning beyond the words, a solid theme and great characters.

I like to read (and write) stories that show a common person's world and how that world is turned upside down by something or someone and what steps that common person must take to either get his world back or learn to live upside down.

donroc
10-29-2008, 02:18 AM
Front cover, back cover, and inside flap for hard cover to see if the story interests me.
Then it requires good writing (interesting MC, believable and non-cliché story), and setting. Finally, I want the novel to inform me about things I am learning for the first time.

Mad Queen
10-29-2008, 08:18 AM
Also do you find yourself constantly trying to fix what's in a book at times?
That's why I decided to write a book. I got tired of fixing other people's books, especially because the fixing only had an effect in my head. ;)

Sean D. Schaffer
10-29-2008, 08:59 AM
Wow, there's so many topics I'm not entirely sure where to post this ^_^Vv

I just thought it might be interesting to ask what you (as writers) look for in a book to read. Also do you find yourself constantly trying to fix what's in a book at times? I know I do a little lol.

As for myself, I know it's horrible, but I really do tend to look at the cover art and the title to hook me in. In which has actually helped me to keep from those waste-of-time books more.

Comments guys! Comments!!! =P


I like a story that captivates me, first and foremost. But that said, I also highly appreciate good writing. I'll be willing to go through a book poorly written if it has a good story, but I'd be much more willing to enjoy it if I got both qualities in the volume.

Oh, and it needs to be about something I actually care about, like characters that I really empathize with, etc.

I hope this helps, and have yourself a good night. :)

ABekah
10-29-2008, 09:31 PM
I tend to find authors that I like and read a lot of their material. Usually this works and provides me with enough variety to keep me going. However, I am sometimes disappointed by an author. Someone else here mentioned David Baldacci's Camel Club. I loved all of the previous books by Baldacci. But he lost me with the Camel Club characters. I read the back of that book and it's just not something that I think I'll enjoy.

Alpha Echo
10-29-2008, 09:41 PM
Great characters I can really care about. The plot means absolutely nothing without memorable characters to drive it.

I completely agree.

I just read a book that sounded great. The blurb told of a really great plot with interwoven characters and interesting relationships that could have been something beautiful.

But I kept waiting to actually care about the characters. When the MC ended up with breast cancer, it was not surprising, nor did I care. Everything that happened, I predicted way before it ever did. And there was so much backstory...the author was trying to weave an older woman's past story with the MC's present, and I got the connection, but it was too much.

At about page 400 with more than 100 pages left to go, I quit and went to the end. I read the last chapter and the prologue, and none of the characters had changed. Though some crazy things had happened, the characters remained on the same level as they were when the story opened.

I was very disappointed, but it just goes to show you how vital good, interesting characters are in a story.

CaroGirl
10-29-2008, 09:49 PM
Well, I confess: I read book reviews. I prefer a well-written, provocative novel that I can enjoy not only for its unforgettable characters but for its beautiful prose. I don't enjoy novels that are full of cliched characters and situations, plot holes, or mistakes in grammar. I look to reviewers to weed those out. Typically, I can tell by the review whether it's a book I'll enjoy or I won't.

I also tend to choose books by authors I've previously enjoyed.

HourglassMemory
11-03-2008, 10:14 AM
True originality and unusualness. I usually see this on the back cover blurb.

And when I speak of originality, I mean that.
It might sound harsh but if it doesn't sound different from what is out there already, it's unlikely that I'll read it.

It's something that I constantly see being advertised over and over again, yet lots of times I check the story and it's always using the same sort of names, the same sort of fantasy surroundings, the same sort of "deep problems" and the same sort of adventure with characters that if you were to try and name them you couldn't name them, but you could gather them all in a specific sort of group, like..."the big guy with the spear" or "The guy with a horrible past with drug addiction". I find myself constantly encountering such things and not just with characters, but environments and situations and whole plots and the basic idea (usually put on the back cover)!

I look for stories that are truly creative, in terms of generating something I have actually never seen before, something that I wouldn't put next to other books of the type, because their type doesn't really fit anywhere. They create their own shelf so to speak.
I'm looking for intelligent quirkiness, elegant, stylish quirkiness, not silly quirkiness.

A colourful yet dramatic and serious cover, with good detailed drawings make me consider picking up the book more than a book only with letters on the cover.
I'm not saying I've never picked up books with "boring covers", but a colourful complex cover sort of advertises a more complex and interesting story.
This might be shallow, but hey, it's MY experience of going to a bookstore.

The title has to be provocative, as in...break new ground. Put two things together that makes a person slow down their pace and consider picking it up.

I'm looking for images that will stick in my mind. Unusual, yet interesting and fun situations that will stick in my mind.
Images that are used as a sort of reminder to fellow readers: "You know...the story where character X does that?" "Oh yeah! That was pretty cool to read." I'm looking for stories that I feel will generate those memories and experiences in me. I prefer it when unusualness does this.
I'm looking for a story that can leave me thinking "I wonder what they're doing now." and keeps me imagining other situations that the group of characters could go through once again, together, in another adventure. I love that.

I like it when instead of a main character, you have a main group.

The fact that I haven't seen much of it, is one of the reasons that motivated me to create and work on the stories that I currently have.