Recently I had finished both books I’d been reading (one ebook, one physical book) and was ready to start two more. I chose books I’d been wanting to read, ones with appealing covers and interesting plots. Ones either recommended highly by others or by an author I’d read before and enjoyed. But one chapter in, then two, and I couldn’t keep my attention from wandering. In frustration, I opened a third book. Before I knew it, I was 50 pages in.
Why does that happen with one book and not another? It’s a question I never really thought seriously about until I was published myself. Since then, in wondering what makes people love or hate my books, I’ve paid more attention in my own reading. Once I would have said that the books that didn’t grab and hold my attention weren’t well-written. I’ve since changed my mind. You see, I’ve discovered that sometimes even a well-written book–even one many other people have loved–just doesn’t connect with me. Or with me at that moment in time. Sometimes I simply can’t connect with a loved author’s subject matter or writing style. And yet sometimes a book I’ve abandoned will become a book I devour a few weeks or months or even years later. The book didn’t change. I did.
Understanding this individual experience of a story takes the pressure off of me as a reader, reminding me that I don’t have to like every book that comes my way–even the well-written ones. And it takes the pressure off of me as a writer, knowing that every book I write isn’t meant for every reader. I’m very grateful for both those perspectives as I decide what books are worth my investment of time, both to read and to write.
Do you know what causes you to embrace or abandon one story over another? I’d love to hear!