January 06, 2011

What I Talk About When I Talk About Reading

There are two things that I can talk about endlessly:  Books and Food.   And just ask Garrett, I do.  It still surprises him that I can be eating lunch and already discussing the dinner menu.  I can also be in the middle of a page turning thriller that I don't want to put down and see the another book out of the corner of my eye and go crazy with anticipation about what's next on my To Read List.  Cooking and reading -- I guess you could call them my passions, but if you did I would roll my eyes at you because I hate when people talk about "passions."  It's cool, you can just roll your eyes at me back when I tell you how much time I spend online updating my Library Reservation List. 

Actually, I take it all back, let's just be friends okay? 

I'm going to be talking about books a bit more around here this year.  I'm constantly reading and last year I resolved to document and at least write a note or two of commentary on all the books I read over on Goodreads . While I did a pretty good job of it, this year I'm going to force myself to actually write some legitimate reviews.  I sort of hate to call them reviews because who am I, The New York Times?  But I can't think of anything better to call them.  How about we just say we will be talking books a little bit more because my little English major brain is getting dull and that makes me bitter when I send off my student loan payments every month.
If you are going to stick around and read some of these reviews I figure I should give you a little context about what I think makes a book enjoyable.  So here is the mythical formula:

1.  Good Writing
*Would the dialogue sound stupid if I listen to it on audio book?
*Does the narrative arc make my head spin or need to take notes to follow along?
*Is it full of passages that make me say "Damn, I wish I would have written that!" or "Shit, I need to write that down."

2.  Page Turning
*Do I want to read this while I am standing in line somewhere?
*Do I make sure it is in my purse whenever I leave the house?
*Am I reading this under the covers late at night when I should be sleeping?

3.  Engaging Premise
*Is this a story I want to hear?
*Is this a topic I find relatable?
*Is this something I am curious about?
*Are these characters I care about?

I think the best books have all three of these things, but that is pretty hard to find all three in the same book.  If I find 2 out of 3 I'm usually happy, but when I find all 3 it is mythical!  Like El Chupacabra!  So now you know where I'm coming from.   

So tell me, what do you think makes a great book?  Or better yet, what was the last one that you read?

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