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Posts Tagged ‘JD Robb’

I recently read a piece on http://shelflove.wordpress.com called Sunday Salon: Why We Dislike What We Dislike, the piece focused on why we dislike certain books and why we don’t even attempt to read others.  Are they just bad or are we biased or trying to read them at the wrong time?

This set me thinking about how the choices I make when it comes to the books I read.  Why do I pick up the books I do?

I think the first reason has to be favourite authors.  For example I’ve read every Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child and I’ll certainly be reading the next one.  The same goes for JD Robb’s ‘In death’ series, John Sandford’s ‘Lucas Davenport’ and Linda Fairstein’s ‘Alex Cooper’.  I pick these books up as they’ve all ready proven their entertainment value to me and I trust they will deliver again.  But why did I start to read these books in the first place?  I think this brings me to the second, and probably primary, reason for choosing books…

Favourite genres.  I am a fan of thrillers and crime/detective fiction so I’ll often browse that section of my local library and take a chance on authors I’ve not read before.  I also use sites like fantasticfiction.co.uk where you can look up authors and find links to other similar authors.  But I’ve noticed that I do discriminate within this genre.  For example I prefer not to read books set in the UK.  I think this is because I live in the UK and I don’t want to be able to identify the location of a murder, it can add a sense of reality that I’m not looking for, I read this genre for escapism, not realism.

I also like classic literature such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Alexandre Dumas, to name a few.  So generally I’ll be more likely to pick up a piece of classic literature rather than a work of modern fiction.  Perhaps because the classic is still around it’s proven that it can last the test of time and is therefore more likely to be worth reading.

So generally I think there’s a lot of prejudice and bias that goes in to choosing whether or not to read a book.  I’ve often told people a book didn’t sound ‘like the sort of thing I’d like’ after only the briefest of descriptions.  But I recognise that I do this and a few years ago I decided to try and broaden my literary horizons and diminish my preconceived notions.

It all started with the BBC Big Read, which I’ve previously mentioned in an earlier post.  When I first looked at the list of 100 books I immediately discounted some as books I wouldn’t want to read.  Why?  Simply because they didn’t fall into the categories of favourite authors or genres.  So I decided to finish the entire list whether I liked the book or not.

This has broadened my reading hugely, I always thought I was pretty well read but now I realise how I had limited the scope of books I read by dismissing so many genres/authors because of preconceptions.  I probably would never have read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series if there hadn’t been some of these books on the list, and now I’m huge fan.  It turns out I love a bit of science fiction!

I’ve also discovered a love of historical fiction too.  Then there are the authors like Salman Rushdie who I wouldn’t have read if he hadn’t been on the list but I probably won’t read again!  As well as broadening my choices I also confirmed a few dislikes too.  But now I can say I don’t like these books and I can back my decision up because I did give them a go, I’m basing my decision on fact not ignorant prejudice.

And then there are those stand alone books that are simply just a good read, it might be due to a fantastic story, engaging characters or a setting/situation that the reader can relate to but generally none of these are good enough to make a book stand out on their own.  I believe the one constant across all good books has to be good writing, it doesn’t matter if it’s simplistic, descriptive or emotive but whatever style it has to suit the characters and story and engage the reader.  No matter what the genre, good writing should stand out.

I think that overall I’m much more willing to give any book a go and not just dismiss books willy-nilly.  As well as reading the BBC Big Read list I also asked friends to nominate a book each that I should read and that was a great way to find new books and learn what my friends liked.  I’d encourage others to get outside their comfort zone occasionally and try something new, you never know where it might lead.

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I’ve read a number of books recently that I categorise as the literary equivalent of TV’s CSI or Numbers. These TV programmes are easy to watch, the characters are familiar and the good guys win. To sit and watch these programmes is pure escapism with a bit of morality, emotion, drama, tension and humour mixed in. So what are the books I’ve been reading that fit this category?

They are Vince Flynn’s Term Limits, Robert Crais’ The First Rule, Harlan Coben’s Promise Me, JD Robb’s Fantasy in Death, and James Patterson’s Worst Case.

I’ve enjoyed them all and as I’ve read most of the author’s previous work it was like visiting with old friends; comfortable and familiar.

But that’s not to say the books don’t have literary merit. Despite my familiarity with these characters I still want to be drawn in to the story and engage with the characters. Just as you can easily switch channels if you’re not enjoying a programme, you need a reason to stay with a book. What I love about this type of book however is that you kind of know what you’re getting. You don’t need entirely realistic characters; you can leave realism behind at the first page and just go along for the ride. You want the characters to be larger than life, able to withstand beatings or the derision of others, you also want them to have fantastic insight into the criminal mind and although they may tread a fine line in terms of the law, they’re still solidly in the good guy’s camp.

For example, I also recently read Lee Child’s 61 Hours. Brilliant! I’m a big fan of the Jack Reacher series and this was one of the best. Quite often, with a book based on a character you’re familiar with, you might be tempted to skim over some of the descriptive elements of the book or feel like you know what’s going to happen.  But Lee Child created a story that captivated me and kept me involved until the final pages.  And the best part, I didn’t expect the ending.  It was excellent, there were a few surprises which kept me on the edge of my seat and left me wanting more.

This is definitely a book I would recommend and I really can’t wait until September for the next instalment! I think I’m going to have to go back and re-read some of the early Jack Reacher books.

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