A to Z Challenge 2013

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Changing Opinions...Slowly

Before I launch into today's topic, I'd like to extend congratulations to Rebecca over at From Brain To Bookshelf. She has been crowned Ms Twitter UK, beating out celebrities and divas alike. Nice job Rebecca; I'm so happy for you.

I have become aware of a change in my opinion on a book series I have griped about (a certain set of vampiric books). The odd thing about this change is that book one really had me convinced that it was poor writing, that the masses who chose to read this fluff were obviously ignoring so many blatantly bad things. I'm working my way through book two a.k.a. New Moon, and although I can't say I'm much more impressed by the writing style, I can say I am getting drawn into the story. I'm not a complete fan yet, but I do have to admit I see a few things here and there that have been done well.

This isn't a Twilight bashing post (and definitely not a Twilight celebration post) however. I would just like to talk about books that change as we read them. What I mean by this is that our impressions of a book can change, depending on how hooked we become. Is this just me? I hope not, otherwise somebody out there is calling the men in white coats.

I have on occasion started a book and just had a really rough time getting into it. I can't stand to leave a book unread however, so I'll plod through no matter how poorly it's written. Every once in a while, an author somehow turns the tables on me though. Before I know it, I'm actually enjoying the book and can't wait to turn the page. James Michener is a perfect example of this. The guy writes wonderfully - of that there is no doubt. I have found however, that I often have to get to a point somewhere deep within his books before I am hooked. Once the hook sets however, I'm in it willingly until the end.

This also begs the question in my mind as to how in the heck they got published? If a query letter and the first ten pages are what an author presents to an agent, I cannot imagine how anyone ever got hooked to Michener's tales. I'm glad they did of course, since I have enjoyed a few of his books. I just know that he failed to impress me right off the bat.

How do authors like that manage to alter opinions like this? My thoughts are that despite the lack of a gripping opening that demands my attention, the author's voice is so clear that I just can't put it down. It's like working on a very difficult word search puzzle, where I know the word is right there if I can just find it. So I keep on looking, examining every single letter of the puzzle until I finally find what I'm looking for. The little angel (or devil) sitting on my shoulder will not let me put a book down no matter how bad it may or may not be. They're published after all, so there has to be something worthwhile there, right?

I am still undecided with regards to New Moon as to whether it's really worthwhile, but I will grudgingly acknowledge that I am intrigued. Have you ever had an author change your opinion of them, just when you thought you were ready to put the book down for good?


Lost Wanderer said...

I disagree that every published book is worthy of it. Publishing is a very subjective business, and not every agent/publisher always makes the right decision.

Most of the time, I do finish the books I start. In my recent memory there is one book that I started, after reading several pages put it down with the intention of never reading it again. The story may be okay, but the writing is atrocious. And I am not even talking about from a writer's standard. Just as an avid reader, it's terrible writing. I can't stand it.

I am of the opinion that there are far too many good books than one can read in a life-time so wasting my energy on terrible writing is a waste of my life. Those books or those writers neither deserve my time or my energy.

There are books which are hard to get into but then I enjoy them, but that's a different thing entirely. They could be slow for various reasons, and I am willing to slog through that and give them a shot as long as there is promise of better things to come.

TereLiz said...

Oh, Eric, you are a better man than I. (In many ways, I'm sure, as you have the XY, and alas, I have only the XX, lol)

There are plenty of book that I start but don't finish. I always say I'm going to finish them, but I know I'm lying to myself. Why bother slogging through another three hundred pages of The Name of the Rose, when I can watch a perfectly good movie with Sean Connery? ;)

As for New Moon, that was probably the quickest read of the series and the most memorable for me. I'm not sure how it happened, because the nearly blank pages standing in for four months of zombie-Bella drove me nuts at first. But I liked Jacob (in this book, I feel like in later books his changes are out of character), so I think the whole werewolf aspect helped me get into it.

I'll quit before I get going on how I really feel about these books, though...

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

i have, but rarely. something PRETTY SPECTACULAR has to grab my attention if the first 10-30 pages stink. then i might change my opinion and like the book (and author by extension). i know this has happened, but for the life of me, i can't even recall who it was!

Danyelle said...

I think it depends on one's expectations as they go in reading. When I'm in writing/crit mode, I don't enjoy reading books as much because I'm so focused on the writing mechanics that I'm not able to sink into the storytelling. When I'm reading for enjoyment, I'm far easier to please and sink into that happy place a lot faster.

beth said...

Ironically enough, I'm currently in the midst of a book that, by every measure, I should like. The pitch itrigues me, the blurbs are great, great reviews, close friends love it, and it's a bestseller.

But I can't get into it.

Like all art, books are subjective. I never really liked Picasso, either.

Glynis said...

Not gone down the Twilight road, and probably won't. I did just read a book by Josephine Cox and found myself pulling it to bits. I could not stop reading it, not for the story but to count the amount of repeat sentences and bulk filling paragraphs.Every taboo I had learned recently was staring up at me from this book. I could not believe I was ready the author I normally enjoy. I could not believe I was pulling it to bits as a writer either *grin*.

Glynis said...

whoops...reading the author ;0

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Normally, I can tell within a few pages, or chapters at most if I’m going to like something. Like you, it just kills me to not finish a book. Dunno where this comes from, but, it’s there. So, no, I don’t change opinions much after they’re formed. In fact, can’t remember ever doing it. Hope that doesn’t mean I’m inflexible. I just sorta know what I like and, well, I know. (grin.)

Some published books are head scratchers to me. Who makes the choices on some of the stuff that’s “out there” is…curious. There are lots of not so good books floating around. Getting published is a much luck as skill. Sometimes it seems like the more skill you have, the less luck follows you.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Michelle H. said...

I think everyone else has expressed my sentiment also. It's all subjective. For some reason the project of the writer clicks with the agent and clicks to the publisher. Yet that connectivity sometimes stops after the book is placed on the shelf, leaving the reader to shrug on what the big deal is about.

ElanaJ said...

I give books 100 pages to hook me. Beyond that, if I'm not into the story, I put the book down.

And as for how other books achieved publication status, the times were different even a year ago. Things are harder now. Also, luck, the day you send your query, who the agent has had lunch with last week, etc. all contribute to whether or not your book will be published. And those are things we can't control. So we just write the best we can, and persevere.