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August 16th, 2007

Readability and Engagment

Catching up the books in progress, slowly knocking out the various books I started reading. Picked up a slew of new paperbacks this past week because I wasn't sure what I wanted to read next, including Undertow by matociquala, Embraced by Darkness by kezarthur, Thunderbird Falls by mizkit (yes, I'm way behind on my reading) and sundry others, including the mass market of The Privilege of the Sword by ellen_kushner.

I just finished The Bear and the Dragon by Tom Clancy. Mindless reading where I didn't need to think about the story too much and just let the plot take me along as Clancy blew up stuff. Which placed me in the position, when it was over, as to what I wanted to read next. Did I want something "readable" or did I want something "engaging" -- which then brought me to the ongoing question of what I like to read and write.

I considered picking up the next Doc Savage pulp on my list, The Other World, the first one from 1940. But I also had a copy of The Ruins by Scott Smith. Started with that one and found I was immediately daunted by the format (there aren't any chapter breaks, just scene breaks, as you'd find in a Terry Pratchett Discworld book) and it's pretty hefty, coming in at a bit over 500 pages. Balanced that against the Kushner, which is so so so readable and engaging and light in the opening pages because the language just flows. I had picked it up Saturday at the same time as mizkit's second Walker Papers book, and I was so happy with the purchase -- and then the darn Smith book sucked at my attention.

It's relentless. It's like driving past a car accident on the interstate, except you're coming on the scene as it happens in slow motion. The darn book won't let me put it down. Not because it's especially great. The scenes shift between four characters, so it's a limited POV. And it comes across as if I'm being told a lot by each character. I'm deep inside their head and it's driving me crazy. I shouldn't feel so engaged by it, not after the all the goodness I found in the Kushner book and what I know I can expect from past experience with mizkit based on Urban Shaman.

I can't remember the last book that I disliked from a writing standpoint that I couldn't stop reading. Which brings me to the question ...

Poll #1040124 Books You Hate But Had To Finish

What books did you hate when you read them, but had to finish?

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