/ / Articles

Readers, It’s Your Turn

Writers are told to write to their audience, but who ever asks that audience what kind of books they want to read?
| Jul 17, 2017 | 23 comments |

Readers never get heard. OK, rarely. Writers are told to write to their audience, but who ever asks that audience what kind of books they want to read? Well, I did once before, but I think it’s time to revisit the subject.

So here’s your chance.

  1. What do you most want to see in books you read? Action? Romance? Mystery? Science fiction? Epic fantasy? Dystopian? Super heroes? Something else altogether?
  2. What do you think is overdone?
  3. What makes you want to buy a book? The cover? The book blurb? Amazon reviews? Recommendation from a friend?
  4. What kind of a book would you most likely give to someone as a gift? Fiction? Non-fiction? A “gift book”? A book you love? A book you think they’ll love? A book you’ve heard about in a subject you think they’re interested in?
  5. What bugs you the most when you see it in a story? Characters with insufficient motivation? Cliched actions? Predictable endings? Something else?
  6. What makes you close a book and never come back to it?
  7. What makes you throw a book across the room?

I look forward to reading what readers think! Feel free to answer some or all of the questions. It’s your forum to say what you want to say!

Join the conversation

23 Comments on "Readers, It’s Your Turn"

Notify of
avatar
Hannah Williams
Member

I like an adventurous fantasy with redemption themes, great humor, intense action.

The heroine who is angsty, self-centered, boy-magnet, and probably secretly a queen comes up waaay too much in stories anymore.

A beautiful cover, intriguing blurb, and content positive review catch my attention.

I give books I love to people in order to spread the fandom.

It’s frustrating to see characters acting out of character in order to accomplish a plot point. The “bad guy just redeemed dies.” Let them liiive and see what happens.

I’ll close a book if the romance is getting too lustful. The personal pov in most books nowadays get VERY personal in romance and I do not wish to be so invasive. I perfer omniscient romances that know when to change the scene.

Sometimes, some authors (especially in the popular secular zone) listen to readers TOO much, and when they do something like suddenly change a character in answer to a politically charged outcry…..I throw the book.

Thanks for the fun questions!

Kat Vinson
Member

“Probably secretly a queen” – right?! It’s amazing how many hidden-away-princesses there are in fiction!

Jonathan Lovelace
Member

1. What I most want to see in any piece of fiction I read is something that’s exactly the same as my favorites in everything that matters and sufficiently different in everything else. (Yes, I know that’s not helpful, so I’ll explain.) I want something that explores the nuances of a world (whether SF, fantasy, or not—I read a lot of Pride & Prejudice fanfiction, and Understood Betsy is one of my favorite books), neither uncovering nor hinting at any inconsistencies either within the world or with the story’s theme or tone. I want to see eucatastrophe, with enough foreshadowing that I don’t get too tempted to give up before then (though I can be content with less happy story structures. I’d really like to see a real and well-done allegory (by which I mean, a compelling “outer” story excellently told by means of an excellently-told “inner” story—and I have only read *one* novel published in the last twenty years that called itself an allegory and fit the form, and it was somewhat poorly done). I want to see formalist poetry reflecting God’s glory with scintillating brilliance.
2. I have a long list of things I think are overdone, every item of which has suddenly flown out of my mind.
3. Because my stack of unread books is already overwhelming, I generally only even look into whether a new-to-me book is one I might like to read someday on the recommendation of a friend whose taste I trust.
4. Most of the books I give as gifts are to my immediate family members, and so I take advantage of the opportunity to give them one I think they may well like that I myself want to read. But outside the circle of our family, I usually give books that I have read and think highly of, and that I think the recipient will enjoy or (for the occasional non-fiction book) benefit from. When the person has a GoodReads account, I compare his or her “to-read” shelf to my “read” shelf. But even if I thought someone would like a book, I won’t give a book I think poorly of.
5. Two things bug me more than almost anything else: The first, and most egregious, is inconsistency, either between points within the story, between implications of points within the story (as in a dear friend’s Revolutionary-era otherwise-compelling alternate history which has a hyper-patriotistic splinter state that still somehow fatalistically accepts paying a tyrant an arbitrary tribute for more than a decade), or between the contents of the story and its tone or theme (as in a novel I really wanted to like that had an exhaustively-researched hard-science medical case at its core but showed a spaceship pilot casually breaking the laws of physics just to illustrate his character). The second (which unfortunately occurs in several of my favorite books, so when rereading I skip ahead to after that part) is when a story’s plot is advanced by the protagonist(s), or other sympathetic characters, doing things that are obviously stupid.
6. The one thing that makes me certain to close a book and never come back to it is what I, borrowing an expression from someone on “the Bujold list,” call “the Eight Deadly Words”: when I realize that “I don’t *care* what happens to these people!” Egregiously bad spelling, grammar, or typographical formatting also do it (but those are rare in even self-published Kindle “books,” so I mainly run into them in fanfiction).
7. I can’t say that I’ve ever thrown a book across a room; if I’ve ever been tempted, it’s been an ebook, and so impossible to do so. Any book that’s not worth reading isn’t worth taking the energy to throw across a room.

Kat Vinson
Member

See, I’ve thrown a book when everything about it was fantastic – and then at the last second something happened that was an utter betrayal of all the time and pages before it.

Brie Donning
Guest

I tend toward fantasy with a good dose of adventure and a little bit of romance. Something unique about the world is almost essential, but magic isn’t. Humour and politics are in. Let this book really say something. And sci-fi works too.

There’s a few too many generic retellings of Jesus’ death and resurrection. They can be done well, but often they aren’t.

I’ll buy a book for a mixture of reasons. Having loved other books by the author is the biggest one. Intriguing description can pull me in. A recommendation might make me interested, but I very much buy books on my own terms. I might have a book on my list for years before getting it.

I give books I love to people I think will love them too. (though I rarely do give books at all because international shipping rates are terrible) And I give non-fiction to my family.

I hate it when kids go behind the back of their parents and it all turns out fine. Rebellion (unless its’ rebellion against an evil king) shouldn’t be rewarded. So it bothers me.

If I don’t like the characters, i won’t finish the story. Arrogant jerks, heroes who are little better than the villains, characters who complain all the time. People who don’t improve. I can stand them if they’re gradually becoming a better person, or have some sympathetic motivation. I can’t stand too much physical romance or even lustful thoughts.

Kat Vinson
Member

“I hate it when kids go behind the back of their parents and it all turns out fine.”

I forgot about that. And the absentee/evil parent trope in general.

Audie Thacker
Member

Maybe it would be easier if I gave an idea of what I’m not looking for in a story.

Pretty much any story about “The One”. As The Matrix showed, this kind of story can work, but it’s still a cliche that’s been very much over-used. And double the distaste if “The One” spends much of the story whining about being “The One” before, five pages from the end, he or she finally decides to fulfill their destiny and beat down the bad guys.

For Christian stories, any story that is essentially a clumsy retelling of biblical story, especially if it’s a clumsy retelling of the life of Christ. And double the distaste if it can’t even get the gospel right, if it’s about someone coming to the god of the story to fulfill their destiny, or this god is used as a force to be manipulated to pull off the big reversal at the end, or if a person is considered good if they’ve changed the world.

Michael Howell
Guest

What do you most want to see in books you read? Action? Romance? Mystery? Science fiction? Epic fantasy? Dystopian? Super heroes? Something else altogether?

A. Something fresh and new but more than that highly. creative

What do you think is overdone?

A. Cheesy Christian themes…pastor fallen from grace…Amish love stories…

What makes you want to buy a book? The cover? The book blurb? Amazon reviews? Recommendation from a friend?

A. Recommendation from a friend who knows what I like.

What kind of a book would you most likely give to someone as a gift? Fiction? Non-fiction? A “gift book”? A book you love? A book you think they’ll love? A book you’ve heard about in a subject you think they’re interested in?

A. “Little White Bird” “Dune”

What bugs you the most when you see it in a story? Characters with insufficient motivation? Cliched actions? Predictable endings? Something else?

A. Any form of predictability…lack of creativity…lack of understanding of faith

What makes you close a book and never come back to it?

A. Boring

What makes you throw a book across the room?

A. I never throw a book across a room. Regardless of how bad it is…

Eve
Guest

I so agree about the Amish love stories!

Liv K. Fisher
Guest

1. Epic fantasy with fantastic worldbuilding!

2. The feisty heroine or the heroine who’s constantly a damsel in distress.

3. A gorgeous cover always helps! A well-written blurb and first few lines will certainly help, too. If a book gets too many poor reviews from Goodreads friends, chances are I won’t be as interested.

4. Fiction! And usually a book I love and want to share with people. 😉

5. CLICHES!!!! Seriously. Even if the writing’s incredible, I will typically HATE a book if it’s filled with too many cliches.

6. No action, or inappropriate content. Even if the cover, the blurb, and the first few lines are lovely, if there is nothing happening for the first fifty pages, I’ll probably put it down.

7. I doubt I’d ever throw a book across the room. But if it had any of the stuff from number six, chances are that I’d DNF it.

serena dawson
Guest

1. I prefer fantasy, but enjoy any well written story with realistic, motivated characters that has an underlying moral or spiritual positivity and a passable happy ending, extra points for originality.

2. Whiny lead characters, “strong female leads” that are basically violent for no good reason, have no positive feminine qualities and then let men bully, demean and do stupid stuff just because.

3. A great cover can do most of the job, but I check back cover and other readers reviews to be sure I have a handle on what experience that book will give. A few close friends whose opinions I trust count the most.

4. Any book I love but also think is a good match, mainly fiction.

5. Idiot-plotting, (plot moves forward through characters being idiots), main relationship problem being lack of simple communication, inconsistency of any kind, lack of research and illogical character actions, unclear character motivation, killing characters I love without really good reason, too many obvious scenarios.

6. Boring, sex or violence taken too far, character betrayals (that is, the character I believed in turns out to be so different than advertised through beginning of book I lose all faith. Good bye faithless one, you stole part of my life through lies, you will steal no more)

7. “And she woke up and realized the whole book was a dream” and stuff like that. Just, no. Hours of my life I won’t get back. Meaningless, meaningless says the philosopher. An ending that renders it all meaningless is the worst betrayal.

Kat Vinson
Member

My #7 is the same. It makes me see red and contemplate doing worse things than throwing the book.

“Good bye faithless one” – lol, I’m so going to think that the next time I come across one of those characters!

Kat Vinson
Member

1) I most enjoy fantasy with a good adventure and well-built romance. I prefer fantasies but I’ll read nearly any speculative genre (must be speculative!) so long as it has a good romance in it. I read and enjoy speculative without romance but, with my TBR pile, I’m less likely to pick it up in the first place without the romance angle.
2) I am tired of dystopians. The girl-falls-for-the-bad-boy trope is also overdone. And the “humble-farmboy-who-must-save-the-world”! I need reasons why the hero is the only one who can do whatever.
3) Covers grab my attention but won’t make me want to buy it unless the blurb (and probably reviews) grab my interest. A really well done blurb will make me buy a book without even looking at reviews. A so-so blurb will get me curious enough to check reviews first. A recommendation from a friend might override everything but it depends on if our tastes are similar and how they sell the book.
4) I generally give books that I know the other person will be interested in because they love the subject. If it’s a book I love, I’m more likely to shove my copy in their face and say, “you have to read this!” Unless it’s an ebook I can’t loan.
5) I am so tired of insta-love – it really bugs me when the romance has no foundation or it’s told instead of felt. Characters need to fill needs in each other or have reasons why they fit together. I also hate obvious coincidences moving the story along. If things are too easy or anything feels manipulative.
6) Graphic violence, anything too dark, grim, etc. I need a heavy underlying dash of hope and positiveness in a story, even if the characters are struggling through a difficult time.
7) Characters waking up – if the entire story, or even a large portion of it was just a dream. I don’t care if they learned the most profound lessons in the dream – if I thought it was real and it wasn’t, I’m throwing the book. And then I’m going to contemplate if I should throw it away rather than pawn it off on some other unsuspecting sucker.

Eve
Guest

I agree about the dark-ever notice the titles at your local library-especially the teen section? Talk about dark!

Leanna P
Guest

I hear people complain about the “it was all a dream” thing a lot but the only book examples I can think of are brilliant in my opinion (e.g. The Great Divorce, The Man Who Was Thursday). The dream/nightmare mechanic is absolutely essential to the storytelling and it fits that you don’t know it until the end.
What’s an example of a bad one?

Eve
Guest

I want to see a mixture, a crossing off barriers.
Fluffy romance has overloaded the market.
I always judge a book by its cover, then the blurb, then the first page.
A non fiction feels safer a a gift; not everyone has such…er, unique…tastes in books like I do, lol. I get my kids to read my favs ;).
Predictable and overdone plots are annoying and boring, as are over-detailed plots (who can remember it all!).
I close books that are vile (swearing, porn, excessive violence, overly dark). I hate unhappy endings, grrr! I’ve thrown a few books like these. Literally. And books that smack of plagiarism.

wpDiscuz