One of my favorite things to do is read a good book, but I have a short attention span, so it takes a lot to draw me in and hold my interest long enough to read past the first page, let alone finish a book. I’ve thought a lot lately about what it is that entices me to read an entire novel, and I’ve come up with a few things that captivate me as a reader that I’m trying to incorporate into my own writing.
- I read some books purely for the beautiful language. I may not be that interested in the story or the characters, but the language lulls me. For instance, reading Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy is like riding a raft down a gentle river, the way her words float across the page enthralls me. Crossed, the second book in the Matched series starts out “I’m standing in a river. It’s blue. Dark blue. Reflecting the color of the evening sky. I don’t move. The river does. It pushes against me and hisses through the grass at the water’s edge.” Notice how the words flow, smoothly, rhythmically, like a river. You can see it. Feel it. Hear it.
- Another thing that grabs me like a Pitbull and won’t let go is a unique , engaging voice. I just finished reading Supernaturally, the second book in the Paranormalcy series. The fun voice is part of what carried me through the first two books. It starts out “Oh, bleep. I was going to die.” Whenever the MC swears she says bleep. Cute. Original.
- Then there are those books I read simply because I adore one of the characters. And it might not even be the main character. Even more than the voice in Paranormalcy, I liked one particular character, who only popped up once in a while and is portrayed as bad, but whenever this character came on the scene, I cheered. In James Dashner’s Maze Runner, my daughter fell in love with one of the side characters and followed him through to the end of the series.
- Humor is another thing that compels me to read. Even though horrific things happen in Maze Runner, there’s a lot of humor in the dialogue, thoughts, and actions of the characters that tickled my ribs and made me laugh out loud. I especially enjoyed the made up swearwords like “klunk” and “shuck”. One hilarious character named Jorge cracked me up every time he opened his mouth.
- The story itself, the plot, can hook me and reel me in. Hunger Games is one of those books where the plot, more than anything else, is why I couldn’t put it down.
- My favorite books, the page-turners, have several or all of these strengths combined. Plot, character, voice, humor, great writing. Some examples of brilliant books I could read over and over again are: Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, Jane Eyre, Lord of the Rings. The Poisonwood Bible, and Harry Potter.