Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Keep me Hangin' on...

What compels you to stick with a book?

I’m a reader, so the book has to be pretty suck worthy to not get me to cross the finish line, but I’ll admit there are some books I just can’t finish.

Believe it or not (gasp), Harry Potter used to be one of them. My daughter and I, amidst the hype, made it to chapter three when she was in first grade. We tried again when she hit the third grade. Progress happened, but we still didn’t get past chapter ten. Finally I got tired of waiting for her and decided that I was going to read these books and I was going to like them – with or without her. Soooo the summer before she hit fifth grade I finished the Sorcerer’s Stone, devoured the next one, and the next one…. Series complete by mid-January. My daughter jumped on board shortly after me. Imagine that.

But what kept me hanging on, wanting to finish the first one? In fact, what keeps me turning the pages with any book?

1) Hype—I’ll admit it. I would’ve never finished Twilight had my students not been so heck bent on me reading the saga. I couldn’t get into that book until page one hundred, but I just had to see what the whole Edward craze was about—um, yeah… totally get it now.

Same reason I muddled through fifty plot threads with Dragon Tattoo, trying to keep track of everyone’s name and their connections to the story. Ditto for Harry Potter. With all three books – once I was sucked in… hoo boy.

2) TWISTS and TURNS - Can we say Ellen Hopkins? Or James Patterson? Yep - they RULE on the page-turner thing.

3) Intrigue/Compelling premise – I just finished the Uglies series - not the most compelling read and never fully invested in any of the characters, but the whole post-apocalyptic thing kept me going. Why do people have pretty-making surgery at age sixteen? What really happens to them? And what went wrong with the Rusties?

4) Characters – probably the most selling for me. If I can’t buy the characters. If they don’t do anything for me. If I can’t relate or fall in love with or get totally lost in them, forget it. It’s hard for me to finish the book.

5) VOICE –Okay forget everything I just said. Frankly, a book can have a crappy premise and the supporting cast can be total duds, but if the protag has this amazeball snarky voice that keeps me rolling and reading, dude, I’m HOOKED. Think Maximum Ride. Or House of Night’s Zoe Redbird. Or freaking Bianca Piper from The DUFF.

So, yeah... these are my endurance-fuelers. What are yours? What keeps you "hangin' on"?


  1. Mainly the voice. I'f I like that, I'll keep reading.

  2. Good question. I have a hard time holding on until the end with ANY book. I still haven't finished Safe Haven. Characters are big with me, especially characters with an identified problem in the very beginning. If I feel anything for the character, I can hang on for a little while, but there better be twists and turns and lots of action.

  3. for me, it's ALL about the voice and characters. i will finish the book even if both aspects aren't awesomely laid out, but...yeah.


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