Saturday, March 27, 2010

Start to Finish: What keeps me reading?

As most of you know, I read a lot of books!

Doesn't really matter what kind, I just really like to read.

But what keeps me reading? What makes me read a book from start to finish?

Well, I'll tell you what my criteria is.

  1. Stories for one thing. I LOVE good stories.
  2. A good story will have true-to-life characters made of flesh and bone. I want to believe that this story is actually happening right in front of me.
  3. I want to be able to feel what the characters feel, see what they see, taste what they taste, and so on. They don't have to be my best friends (although that would be a plus), they just have to be real to me.
  4. If a story can make me laugh, that would be another great plus. But, again, a plus, not a requirement. I have read many great stories that did not have an ounce of humor in it, but I was still entertained by the writing. Yet, another thing of what keeps me reading.
  5. And, finally, I would like a story to go somewhere; I want it to have a point, a goal, anything really. If it could teach me something, great! But it doesn't have to. I just want the story to take me on a brand new adventure (an adventure that I don't get to experience in real life). When I read, I want to live vicariously through the story; and if I'm doing that, then I wanna go somewhere! Anywhere--to a far-away land, to outer space, to hell, anywhere! And I want the characters to take me there. See, for me, a good story will have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. The characters will go from Point A, to Point B, and then finish at Point C. They will never stay at one point through the whole book (at least, I hope not. I'll be bored before I even get to the middle.)

The bottom line is: I don't care if the author has written about the love between a man and a woman, or about an ex-slave in Virginia, or about a Mexican immigrant assimilating to American life, or even about the battle of witches and warlocks. I don't care. As long as it is a good story made up of read, strongly defined characters that take me from Point A to Point C, then I'm all for it. And if you add humor and great writing that can clearly come from sheer talent, then I'm a happy camper. If you give me all this, then you can bet that I'll be finishing this book from start to finish.

Now, why have I written this post, you ask? Well, in my last post, I told you that I was reading "I want Candy" by Kim Wong Keltner. I have read about 7 chapters before coming to the conclusion that I will not be finishing this book. Why? Because I'm BORED.

I thought this book was going to be a Chinese version of "To Kill a Mockingbird." I thought this 14-year old character was going to talk about coming of age in America while working in the Chinese restaurant with her old-world immigrant family. I thought this girl was going to have ambition and dreams. But all she keeps talking about is how she wants to be like her bad best friend that keeps having sex with random guys she meets. And the writer gets so graphic when she talks about the main character going up to some guy's apartment and watching him "touch" himself. I was disgusted!

So, now I'm finished. I am stopping at chapter 7 and moving on to a new book.

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