Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Hangups

I was originally going to title this post - The Bits of Books That Scare You - but that was a bit of a mouthful, so I decided to make it a little more compact. Though this post is really about the things that when you've found a book in the bookstore and have read a fantastic blurb, make you want to scream when you open the cover and discover all is not as you thought it would be. Kind of like if a dead spider fell out when you flicked to page 1.

The things that have you putting a book back on the shelf faster than Usain Bolt can do the 100m (actually probably faster than that).

I'm the first person to admit that I have quite a few hang-ups/prejudices when it comes to book buying. Some of them I've overcome - the first person narrator I've come to love - others I just can't let go of, no matter how hard I keep trying - present tense narration for example, leaves me feeling like my brain's draining out of my ears.

So, please excuse me if this post and those of the next two days, seem like a little bit of a moan. But I hope that in the comments you'll share some of your hangups, whether you've got over them yet, are still trying or have given up.

Ten years ago, I was reading a lot more books that I am today - probably why I currently have such a large TBR pile. It wasn't unusual for me to buy ten or eleven books every weekend. And I needed to have some kind of elimination policy because I used to browse so quickly. If I didn't have some kind of selection process I could have easily gone to twenty or thirty books.

So some of the reasons I'd discard a book were:-

1. First Person Narration - I don't want to get into the characters head. What if I can't identify with them? How will I enjoy the story?

2. Glossary over 5 pages long. I don't mind a short glossary especially if the book is written in a dialect that I'm not familiar with. But please, if your heroine is called Clodpeppa*, don't try and persuade me that it should be pronounced Chloe, she's always going to be Clod-pepper to me.

3. Character list over 3 pages long. Eeeekkk! Generally I can remember hero, heroine, villain and a few secondary characters. I think one of the scariest and most intimidating things a reader can be faced with is a loooooonnnnng character list.

4. Books written in the present tense. I have read books in the present tense, but I always seem to read them with my brain constantly saying there's something not quite right here. I don't know if it's being used to reading books in the past tense, but this is one hang-up I've never managed to get over.

In my two remaining posts I'll be talking about two of my hangups and the books that helped me get over them.

* - I should add here that Clodpeppa is a made-up heroine. Lol. I'm sure there are plenty of heroines and heroes that fit this description though. Love to hear about your pronunciation quibbles in the comments too.


Tam said...

Please avoid apostophe's when naming someone. Although weirdly today, someone send me an e-mail and their name is Me'shel. I assume pronounced the same as without the apostrophe. I hope it doesn't require a tongue click should we ever meet in real life.

I used to hate first person, now I don't really notice most of the time. Sometimes present tense drives me around the bend and it takes me 30 pages to stop my brain from trying to translate everything into past tense, but other books I slide right in and don't really noticed until afterward. Who knows.

I don't read books with glossaries as a rule, or maybe I just ignore them and figure it out on my own. And if there is a huge cast of character introduce them slowly so I don't get them all mixed up. If it's a novella, skip the 15 sorority sisters or family of 12, all with names that start with L.

I find the more I read the less I have "I never ..."s in my life. Which is a good thing. :-)

Jenre said...

Very interesting post, Lesley. I look forward to seeing which two problems you managed to overcome :).

I agree with Tam about the apostrophes. In fact whilst I'm loving the Ginn Hale Rifter series, the names of people and places are a little off-putting.

Other than that, I don't really have many huge niggles and since I buy most of my books as ebooks or on the recommendation of a friend, I rarely venture into a book shop to look at the first page. Perhaps I should read more extracts!

Sometimes if I read over a first page or an extract and it's stuffed full of complicated back-history (fantasy stories can be the worst for this), I find it slow getting into the book and would be something that might make me put the book down.

LesleyW said...

Tam - I think as I'm getting older I'm more willing to overlook my prejudices. Though I can't seem to get over the problem I have with present tense - and I've tried. I think Jeanne C.Stein's books are the closest I've come, probably the only series I've read where it hasn't been too much of a problem. Lol - now I'm really hoping I've remembered right and they are written in present tense.

LesleyW said...

Jenre - thank you and Doh! slaps forehead - how could I have forgotten the apostrophes? I don't get into Waterstones as much as used to. The exception is probably at Christmas when I'm kind of irresistibly drawn to the place.

Sullivan McPig said...

I don't like Present Tense either. most of the times it got a choppy feel to it for me and it drags me out of the story. Only a few authors manage to write Present Tense in such a way that I don't notice it.

LesleyW said...

Sullivan - I keep hoping I'll find a book that will make me understand why it's been written in present tense and not past. But I haven't found it yet.

Copyright © 2008-2011 Desert Island Keepers All Rights Reserved. Proudly powered by Blogger

  © Blogger template Starry by 2008 Modified by Lea

Back to TOP