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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

I have talked before about why a reader buys a book and keeps reading it to the end.

I have great respect for writers and I thank them for the books they write that I can enjoy.

My life has been enriched by so many authors.  

I am truly grateful for so many books that have taught me and have given me inspiration and pleasure, books that I cherish and re-read and recommend to others.


I also need to talk about what is fair to readers who spend money and take the time to read books.  I admit that I have certain expectations for a story depending on the purpose of the book and what I know from reading other books by the author.

In fiction stories, I expect some suspense, some reason for picking the book back up and reading more.  Being bored is hard when time is short.  I have more time than most, but even I can reach a limit.  If a book is putting me to sleep it is not a good thing.  I need my curiosity to be aroused.  I need to be asking questions or even arguing with the characters.

I don’t need action every second, but if it is a book about adventure, I do need to see some.  I have come to an acceptance with series authors that not every book is going to be great.  I am willing to endure a ho-hum plot to spend time with characters that I love.

If I really get upset, though, I do quit.  

There are two series that I have pretty much decided I was happy with the last book that I read and I will not buy any more.  There are three popular series where I have put off buying the next book for so long that I have probably made an unconscious decision to quit.  Maybe if hubby hits the lottery, I will reconsider.  

What really disappoints me is when the book is boring, has no characters I can like, and is not even believable.  Now, being believable with me can be stretched a long way.  I read science fiction and fantasy and stories about time travel so I do suspend willingly my disbelief as Coleridge said, but there still has to be a framework of plausibility.

It is not fair to the reader to suddenly jump the plot into complete craziness unless that is the type of story you expected from the author when you chose the book.  

Plausibility means that when you are in a world with gravity, you do not suddenly jump fifty feet in the air.  A plot device only to wake me up is not fair.

So in The Long Earth, I can accept that Joshua is visiting Earths that had dinosaurs and other kinds of hominids and even seals with monkey faces, but suddenly on page 220 he is told about something new:

“…there was a gray cloud, and it was getting bigger.

‘I call them suckers,’ said Sally calmly. ‘Rather like dragonflies.  They pump a venom into anything organic, which breaks down cells remarkably fast, and you become a bag of soup that they suck up, as if through a straw.  For some reason they don’t bother the dinosaurs.  Your electronic friend is right about the emergency, Joshua.  Now run along, there’s a good boy.’  

And she disappeared.”

I shut the book and I am done.  Sally who might have been an interesting character has just been a …. to Joshua for no good reason at all.  I have had enough of bad dialogue, and a ho-hum plot no matter what is planned for sequels.  I have read 220 pages and that is enough.  If it gets better later, it is too late for me.  I feel bad in a way because I like Prachett, but I haven’t found anything of him in the story.  I guess my expectations were too high.  Many thanks to my readers who earlier tried to help me keep going with the story.  

On a more pleasant note, I just finished a short story by Poul Anderson called The Saturn Game in a collection called The Van Rijn Method which is wonderful.  The Saturn Game was originally published in 1981, but it works great in 2012.

I liked the characters immensely.  I liked the premise and setting and there is a lot of adventure, even tragedy, but it is so well done that I believed in it.  In fact, it would have worked in a mountain setting on Earth and been effective psychologically.  The scifi setting was just frosting on the cake.  The physics were carefully explained and plausible.

In 74 pages I was delighted and it gave me hope for more good stories.  I needed that mental boost.

The Peters book, Cain at Gettysburg, is painful, but I will finish it.  I wanted to read it because one of my Union great-grandfathers was captured there on July 2nd.  He was with Hancock’s II Corps, the 1rst Division with Caldwell, the 4th Brigade, PA 145th Regiment, Company D.  I have read several non-fiction accounts of Gettysburg and I was just hoping for another viewpoint.  

So far I have gotten a real feel for the weather and the difficult roads in the rain so that is a plus.  I appreciate the remarks that the immigrants did not get credit for the hard battles and were even denigrated unfairly.  I liked hearing why some of the German and Polish men were willing to fight for the Union.

After reading Chancellorsville by Stephen Sears, I don’t like the ongoing excessive criticism of Joe Hooker.  Lee's loss of Stonewall Jackson there is crippling. On the evening of July 1rst, Longstreet is trying to reason with Lee to get him to go around the left flank and get behind the Union Army and between them and Washington, and Meade is struggling with a new command.  John Reynolds is dead which is a horrible loss.  Oliver Howard does not come off well.    

So far, the book is somewhat what I had expected.  I accept that there has been a great deal of research, and it is plausible.  The horror of the battle is difficult to read and Peters puts us there with all the blood, sweat and tears.   We have met the men in the story and it is hard to see them die.  From one horrible veteran comes the proper words a man needs to bury his brother.  From the numbers lost by both sides that day comes terror for the next.  So many officers have been killed.  So much carnage and it is only the first day of the three main days.  Knowing what is coming makes it harder to read on.

So what makes you lay a book down unfinished?

What expectations do you have?

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NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Time flies and it seems as if I just had this poll a very short time ago.

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


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| 40 votes | Vote | Results

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