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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?

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
reannon
Aug. 16th, 2007 01:13 pm (UTC)
It wasn't so much that I hated the books. After all, I bought all three of them. They dragged, we were bound down in endless subplots that would suddenly burst open with something horrific. After a while, I felt like I was just slogging through to see what happened. I knew there had to be a final comeuppance for certain people and others deserved some semblence of happily ever after. Stirling isn't afraid to buck the conventions, though I was SORELY disappointed in one outcome, which I can say because it is a ginormous spoiler. I've rarely had this feeling about a book or a series: liking the characters, plot and story, but feeling like I'm stumbling through quicksand to get to the end.
reannon
Aug. 16th, 2007 01:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, and re: THE RUINS - I began reading it and wondered what Stephen King was smoking. The POV switches, the blatant violations of "show don't tell," the immense stupidity of the main characters... I was, however, driven to keep reading, just as you were.

The full review: http://bellevillenewsdemocrat.typepad.com/culturegeek/2007/02/bookgeek_the_ru.html
stevenagy
Aug. 16th, 2007 01:32 pm (UTC)
The "show don't tell" bothers me the most. I think you've hit the nail in regards to the slasher angle. It's playing in my head like a movie. I want to fast forward just to get it over with. I feel like a voyeur, and dirty for it, too.

As for the Nantucket trilogy ... I tried to read the first one and I had problems right from the start when the "event" happened. One moment, you see what's happening leading up to things and then ... it's over, there were some suicides, but lets get on with things in our brave new world. I was like "what the hell" and wondered how he could gloss over how poeple immediately dealt with the situation. Even one scene where he shows someone realizing the truth and then deciding to take their life, maybe that might have kept me in the story, but I didn't even get that.
stevenagy
Aug. 16th, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC)
And as a sidebar ... I own all three of the Nantucket books. Because I'm stubborn and I want to read them once I get past that point at the beginning of the first.

I haven't purchased any of the modern parallels, however. Won't consider that until I make it through the preceding three.
reannon
Aug. 16th, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid to buy the modern parallels. I'll get sucked into another three-book morass. Must read, can't stop, but it's driving me crazy...

But eventually I will, because apparently I am a slave to Stirling. But HEART-SHAPED BOX comes first.
stevenagy
Aug. 16th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
HSB was one of the books I considered reading. Either that or Lisey's Story. Again, I'm woefully behind on my reading. :-)

At this point I think the only World Fantasy novel nominees I might not get to read are The Orphan's Tales and Soldier of Sidon. I've got the other three with the Kushner purchase this weekend ... though now that I think of it, the local independent bookseller might have a copy of the Valente book. Either that, or I'm confusing it with Liz William's latest. I haven't read the other Soldier books.

||shakes head || Behind behind behind.
reannon
Aug. 17th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
My to-be-read stack is so atrocious I really can't justify buying ONE MORE BOOK until it's reduced to just one of the many bookcases in my apartment.

This, of course, does not stop me.
stevenagy
Aug. 17th, 2007 06:14 pm (UTC)
This, of course, does not stop me.

Amen. Melissa recognizes I could have worse vices than reading and writing. :-)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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