Honest Johns

  • January 20, 2018, 11:52:44 AM
  • Welcome, Guest
Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: What do you look for in a book?  (Read 1342 times)

Great One

  • Senior Moderator
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 7.190
What do you look for in a book?
« on: December 01, 2010, 02:52:04 PM »

As the thread title states: what do you look for in a book?

This question while simple can be hard to answer. I think it's a lot more difficult if the reader, for example, has varying taste. I'd like to think of this as a good thing, but reading the thoughts of writers, I imagine it must be quite frustrating. If the likes of Dan Brown can sell ridiculous numbers of novels, while author's like Scott Bakker flounder, you can begin to form a picture.

Personally, when I'm reading a book, I want it to have a good tale. Not a yarn, per se. I've gotten past those days. Not entirely, I still love the likes of 'Magician', the definitive yarn for me, but I require something more. It's hard to put a pin on what that is, but I guess that's what makes the difference between a great writer and a mediocre one. Being able to indentify this and make it work for readers.

The characters should be suitably grown up and well-rounded. I'm not hung up on a character needing to be interesting. I can accept that characters have different places in a story, some more suitable than others. That's why it can rile when you read a character acting in character, doing things you expect of him. It's galling when they suddenly seem to change and get driven by the narrative to perform seemingly impossible things. It can also be uplifting to read a 'weak' character in a story stand up for themselves and show something different. It's a fine balance. It works for some, not so for others.

Then it needs to have an odd human conundrum, to present a challenge to them mentally and/or physically. I love a good story in which the character overcomes adversity.

Anyway, this is rather difficult to answer. I'll get back to it further later. Need to brood.
Logged

vega1

  • King of Texas and His other Realms and Territories / Thread Killer
  • Hall Visitor
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 1.140
Re: What do you look for in a book?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2010, 03:58:33 PM »

It was easier for me to think of this in terms of what I hate in books. That was easier for me to put my finger on.

- I hate it when the plot is so predictable that I can guess the twists and turns long before they happen, and it turns out I'm right. So I guess I really like it when authors present plot lines that may seem predictable, but in the end are surprising or turn out to be much more satisfying. I think Salvatore is very good at this for example, his stories seem very simple at one level, but in fact have alot more going on that keeps the story interesting.

- I hate it when the story is so muddled and complex that i keep getting confused about whats going on, then my mind wanders. So I like crisp and clear story-telling that keeps the plot moving.

- I do not in general like mundane characters, this is why i do not read alot of books outside of sf/fantasy and history.

- I do not at all appreciate authors who try to show how smart they are by making things overly complicated, it is not necessary to name your character 'xchualthuatars' so that I may then stumble over the name the entire book.  And then to make his home 'Fukgthruasd', which is next to the 'Ngualthksng Forest', and his antagonist 'xchualtchuatars' so that as you skip around I am confused which character it is. I did not buy this book to practice tongue twisters.... you know who I'm talking about. It sucks. Its lucky it was a good story, but it barely overcame the character/place naming.

- I hate it when I do not feel anything for characters. Thats a fail. I like it when I am rooting strongly for a character, or hate his/her guts as the antagonist. Of course the inverse of this is when a character I am supposed to like is wholly unlikeable.

- Finally, I really appreciate a fresh take on something standard. For example, the magic system in "Mistborn" (which none of you have read). Its really fun to read a story where the author has taken something familiar and makes it new and interesting.
Logged
"Two possibilities exist. Either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying."

Arthur C. Clarke

James

  • Bastard
  • Hall Roamer
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2.809
Re: What do you look for in a book?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2010, 11:56:18 PM »

Words. And sometimes pictures.
Logged

Alrin

  • Hall Vagrant
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 4.036
Re: What do you look for in a book?
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2010, 01:50:59 AM »

Nudie pictures.
Logged
“Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.”
  —William Shakespeare, Richard II (II, i)

James

  • Bastard
  • Hall Roamer
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2.809
Re: What do you look for in a book?
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2010, 05:02:59 AM »

Especially those.
Logged

Great One

  • Senior Moderator
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 7.190
Re: What do you look for in a book?
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2010, 10:36:21 AM »

For example, the magic system in "Mistborn" (which none of you have read). Its really fun to read a story where the author has taken something familiar and makes it new and interesting.

Vega, I've attempted to read that time and time again. Not sure if I'm up to it. Brandon's writing is not attractive enough to keep my attention. Even his latest WoT effort, which certainly felt more like his own work and less like RJ's, was a struggle to get through at points.
Logged

Bacchus

  • The best Bang since the Big One
  • World Nomad
  • ******
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 5.061
Re: What do you look for in a book?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2010, 11:55:21 AM »

For me to appreciate a book it must be written well. I appreciate detailed writing. I always enjoyed REF in his early days, but the latest of his books just show sloppy writing. I appreciate an easy read every now and then, but one has to draw a line
Logged
"If nobody comes down here and buys a car in the next hour, I'm gonna club this baby seal. That's right! I'm gonna club this seal to make a better deal. You know I'll do it, too, cause I'm crazy."

- Crazy Ernie

Edhelur

  • Hall Stroller
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Female
  • Posts: 2.362
Re: What do you look for in a book?
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2010, 04:58:15 AM »

The best books I've read are ones that I learned something from, or that somehow tickled my curiosity. No, not textbooks, although Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism" was pretty damn good for an academic text.

I need authors that are smart (Hal Duncan, "Vellum" and "Ink"), but not "Oh look at me I'm smart!!" (like Danielewski, "House of Leaves"). Recently I was watching a video in history class, and it turns out that one of the characters in Vellum/Ink was actually a close reference to a real guy, Mad Jack of the Somme. I knew one of the other characters was a close reference to Matthew Shepard, but... damn, I was kind of excited in that class, "That's so awesome!"

Subtle stuff, you know?

I guess it's knowing how to tread the line: "I have a crude sense of humor/vocabulary" (Lies of Locke Lamora) / "I write poop jokes" (Crooked Little Vein, or Fear and Loathing). Or... I'm trying to think of any others, and might come back to it, because it's just not happening now.
Logged
"They had tried to reach their living fellows in fabled depths of blackness they had never seen - and what had they found? ... We looked and understood what must have triumphed and survived down there in the Cyclopean water city of that nighted, penguin-fringed abyss..."

Bacchus

  • The best Bang since the Big One
  • World Nomad
  • ******
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 5.061
Re: What do you look for in a book?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2010, 02:27:34 PM »

There are books which i ended up learning a lot from, but where not much fun to read. Books related to, say, Art Philosophy. Had to plow through some Kant, and stuff like that. I'm happy that I've read those books, but the process of reading it was a pain...

I do like reading biographies though, although i've read some dry ones in the past as well
Logged
"If nobody comes down here and buys a car in the next hour, I'm gonna club this baby seal. That's right! I'm gonna club this seal to make a better deal. You know I'll do it, too, cause I'm crazy."

- Crazy Ernie
Pages: [1]   Go Up