Thursday, July 14

When Harry Met a Book

What’s a book killer for me? Since everyone’s already touched on my first instincts--insipid character and contrived plots--I'm going to tell you about reader killers or why I quit reading some of my favorite authors at one time or another.

Just for the record, these were writers that I didn’t even have to see what the book was about before I purchased it, their name was simply enough.

These are all well-known, read widely, and presumably rich authors. I’ve debated whether I should mention their names or not. Should I? Shouldn’t I? It’s not like my average six-comment blog is going to put a crimp in their mega-selling careers. And it is just my opinion. But I’m deciding not to, because they are in no position to defend themselves or if they did, it could become a viral war. Although that is way to build up your blog’s presence.

So, the first author I quit is a suspense writer who publishes a couple books a year. I quit reading her because I figured out her formula. Who do you least suspect? I could read the first quarter of the book, ask myself the question, do a Harry and flip to the end to see if I was right. Nine times out of ten, I was. For me, the thrill was gone once I dissected the formula.

Ditto for the male author who writes death books disguised as romances. Why do male authors think someone has to die for it to be a romance? Apparently they didn’t get the HEA lesson we all got.

The second author is a best-selling juggernaut—he’s got books out in almost every genre—but speculation is that he doesn’t actually write them all. I quit reading him in the middle of his best-selling series because he jumped the shark. A reoccurring character came out of the office to become the Mastermind. I couldn’t buy it. And the author lost all credibility with me. I’m sure he’s using twenties as tissues to wipe his tears away at my frustrated desertion.

The final author I’m going to highlight has a popular character going into her eighteenth book, but the character never grows. She’s still making the same mistakes in book seventeen that she did in book one. Maybe I just outgrew her, but I find it frustrating to read about the same love-triangle and the core relationship going through the same growing pains without actually growing. And when asked on the Today show if the character would grow up and decide between the two men, this author said, “No. Why should she?”

At times, I can be quite the unforgiving reader. But, here’s the thing. Books can be spendy and they can be time-consuming, both things that are at times a deterrent in my life. Working fulltime, writing my own book, and paying bills, if I’m going to invest in a book, I want to read a book that deserves it.


  1. Completely agree! I quit authors who get into a rut. Although the majority of the public doesn't seem to have the same issues we do.

    I agree also about that male author who is touted as a "romance author". He isn't. Plain and simple. He writes woman's fiction--whole other game.

    And the author who is on book 18...she was once a gifted romance writer, who went mainstream with this series. I quit it about book 12, when I realized the MC was never going to pick one of the other MCs, and that the stock characters were going to stay the same for the next 100 books.

    Give me Anne Stuart. That woman can create a bad boy unlike all others, including the last 50 she's written!

  2. D--
    I hated giving up the numbers book--I honestly loved the first eight or ten--but I want to see the character get on with her life. I think it would be fun to see her married, maybe with a baby and still doing her job. There's so much more potential to let her grow and surprise the reader.

  3. LOL--I just listened to #15 on CD and left out two discs because it was--even though it was funny--so much the same.

    Actually, too, if we're talking about the guy I think we are (N.E.?), I think he's a long way from women's fiction; his stuff is just pure melodrama. Women's fiction is almost always smart, and his stuff is just slick and his women characters stereotypical and damn close to insulting to most of us. If it's not him, I'll slink away in apology to you and him both. :-)

    In truth, I read an author's voice more than the content and unless the voice changes too much, I'd probably read toilet paper packages if certain writers wrote the copy for them.

  4. I think it's a tight-rope that a lot of authors walk - not just the 'anonymous' ones you mentioned here. And, I'm going to give we reader-writers a lot of credit here, but I think we 'see' things that could be changed about these books because we are writers. We're thinking about how our own characters can grown and learn and live...we see them in their happy-ever-afters and that makes us want to see read-about characters in their own happy-ever-afters. I don't think non-writers do this. They get into a book, it's escape for them, they like the characters and what happens...and they want it to stay that way.

  5. Liz--(N.S. maybe???) And then yes.

    Kristi--You may be right. The more active of writer and the more I've learned, the more discerning reader I've become.

    Atlhough, my sister who isn't a writer has also quit the numbers game, though.

  6. Yes, N.S.--I get him and someone else mixed up, and it's a real insult to the other guy!

  7. Here, here! I applaud your honest assessment. Now if the publishers would realize how frustrated readers are becoming, perhaps we could make some progress. It irks me beyond belief when I pick up a new release from a best selling author only to find a lack of quality writing, poor editing and a mediocre story line. Perhaps that's why so many writers are flooding small presses and self publishing. I long for the day when a well known author is rejected because their manuscript stinks. Of course that will never happen because money ranks over quality in the business world.

    And I have no problem mentioning the redundant formula plots of Nicholas Sparks. Of course, he's not a romance writer, is he? So they aren't really formulas. :)

  8. I had a big issue with "The Bridges of Madison County." I keep hearing about hoe romantic it was. But would we have thught it was romantic if the roles were reversed? A woman goes away to a fair with her children. The husband has a wild affair with a pretty photographer that comes to town. They have sex. In the home he shares with their faimly. In the bed he shares with his wife. I guess I could've handled it better if her husband was a jerk, but he wasn't.

  9. Please excuse the spelling. I got carried away..

  10. Deb. Here, here to you. I totally concur. I'd rather read a new author who writes well than a best-seller who's just putting words on paper.

    Oh Shawn, totally. The same thing with the Horse Whisperer. Why does she have an affair with him? Her husband is practically a saint and everyone's saying what a great love story it is. I just don't get it.

    And for Bridges, I kept hearing what a great love story it was and while I'm reading it, I just don't get it.

  11. DO NOT get me started on the Horse Whisperer. It started a whole geneartion of STUPID HORSE STUFF.

    Ugh and double ugh.

    Horses ARE NOT DOGS. They DO NOT think like dogs or cats.