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Author Topic: What Kind of Reader are You?  (Read 1868 times)
quoting_mungo
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« on: September 29, 2010, 09:26:12 AM »

Just something that sort of came up in another thread in passing which I thought might be interesting to start a proper discussion about. What kind of reader are you? What demands do you make on a book?

Me, I'm an obsessive plate-cleaner. If I've started reading a book, I'll finish it; I think my lifetime count of unfinished books is small enough I could count it on the fingers of one hand, and definitely small enough I won't need to start on my toes. Of those, I think at most one has been past the age of 15 (the latest I can remember putting down was Daggerspell by Katherine Kerr; while I adored the Deverry cycle in its Swedish translation (enough to spend more money than I really care to think of obtaining the full cycle used off of auction sites), I tried to read it in English in my early teens and just couldn't seem to make enough progress. My language skills simply weren't up to it, so I'd gotten only a few chapters if that into it by the time it had to go back to the library, and I didn't bother checking it out again.

That said, I can be awfully picky about what I consider good. Content isn't so important, and I'll tolerate bigotry in fiction without a ruffled hair in most cases, but craft-wise? I can't stand what I've seen of Toni Morrison's writing, because to me, she comes off as putting the craft ahead of the story, being artsy at the expense of that thing most people read books for. (I still finished Jazz but damn it I hate the book.) To me, the storytelling is important, but this is not modern art we're talking about -- it's important because it facilitates communication between writer and reader and sets a mood. So what I ask of a book is deceptively simple: have a moderately interesting story (hey, my favorite genre in short stories is slice-of-life, I don't make any grand demands here) and use enough craft to flatter your plot, but not much more.
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zeekgenateer
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2010, 11:39:18 AM »

I find that I tend to binge read.  If I find something that I really like I don't stop for most anything.  Lunch? Unimportant, use 7-11 when you're done.  Class? Do you have a test? No? Keep reading.  Sleep? For the weak.  I found a great author just before finals week last year and read through five of his books in the course of a week.  Didn't do as well as I wanted to that semester, but oh one of those books was especially worth it.  I just HAD to finish it, no sleep, just keep going.

I tend to stop reading things if the work is unreadable or uninteresting.  The sharpest memory of this is when I was looking for science fiction a year ago.  I was reading a book recommended to me and the guy was preaching libertarianism.  I am ok with reading books that take a different political viewpoint, but this guy was hitting me over the head with a shovel. "Libertarianism will solve all your problems" seemed to be the driving force, so I dropped it.
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2010, 10:47:20 PM »

The only time I can remember that I've had the "I can't stop reading no matter what" was, oddly, with Watership Down. I'd seen the animated movie several times, but for me, the book was way better.

As for false starts - I have had many. I feel that I'm quite sensitive to the author's writing style. If I don't like it, I tend to drop it. But it's not just the style.

Even with books by the same author, some I can't get into, while others have me riveted. Haruki Murakami's "Wild Sheep Chase" had me captivated, but I stalled twice on "Norwegian Wood", the bestseller that catapulted him to fame. I try hard not to abandon books, but I'd say I drop about one in five.

As for what I go for - at the moment I'm trying for edification. In an attempt to catch up on many of the "classic" books that most readers seem to have digested already. Otherwise, I don't really have a preferred genre, but I do like stories with strong characters.
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Quinn Yellowfox
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2010, 04:01:44 AM »

I have to admit, I will drop a book and pick up another quickly unless the characters are really engaging. I like a good story, but engaging characters will keep me reading.
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2010, 09:47:58 AM »

I'm much the same way as Quinn, though if the ideas are interesting enough, I'll still stick with the book. I absolutely *cannot* sit through forced plot or stilted dialogue, though - much as I wanted to complete it, I had to put down Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series because of that. Was just too painful to read.

I try to finish every book I start, so I seldom start something I don't think I can finish. Exactly when I finish them is a different story altogether.
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2010, 09:07:09 PM »

Personally, it depends what I want out of the book. If it's just to relax or fill in time while I'm stuck on the bus, then it has to hook me within the first fifty pages or I'll walk away. Some books I read more to understand the writer and their techniques, and even if it grates I'll still finish it. Finally I read some books because they are so bad that it's both good for all the wrong reasons and I want to learn what not to do.
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2010, 11:43:42 PM »

I am a compulsive reader. I will read anything that looks interesting. However, I have stopped reading only three books in my life. Catcher in the Rye (read like a boring diary). Holy blood holy grail (slogged through it until I was bored to death), and Twilight (the first three pages hurt my brain, it was like a bad fanfic!).
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