1/2/11

On Reading

A recent author inquired (I can't find the post) if we (as readers) are annoyed when a writer (like she does) jumps around in sub-genre. Do we want an author who writes consistently or who writes whatever he/she wants? (Not that these can't be one and the same.)

Personally, I like both and said as much, but I thought I'd explore that a little more in depth.

When I'm in the mood for a certain type of book, I rarely start a new one because I don't know what that book will give me, in most cases. In some instances (such as with Andrew Grey), I can be fairly certain I know what I'm getting, especially if it's his Farm series. But for the most part, I prefer to go into a book only knowing the barest of details and with minimal expectations.

This usually works. Assuming my expectations are always set at 3 (for acceptable writing, plot, characters), most books meet it, some go above it, a few go below it. My only real requirement is I'm a huge fan of happy ever after (HEA), or potential happy endings. (Life sucks enough, I don't need to be heart broken after reading.) If a book is good enough (as judged via reviews on GoodReads), I'll risk the non-HEA. (Side note, I recently got the two books in the Infected series by Andrea Speed. I've heard the ending is not so HEA, which worries me, but I've otherwise heard good things.)

So I start new books without needing anything from them except basic good book protocols. If I need something, I go to something I've already read, because I know the emotions it evokes (or the events that occur to satisfy that need). I don't want the author to feel trapped in a writing style, and I think I'd become bored if I kept reading the same book over and over again in slightly different plots. And yet...

And yet I read every book of Grey's Farm series and am chomping to read the next one. Why?

Aside from my insane need to buy books (I just picked up Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, first of the series [and I think what the show is based on] at Good Will for $.25), I'm attached to the characters we've been introduced to and look forward to hearing more about them. In addition, Grey is very good at giving exactly what he gave in the previous four books in a way that's just different enough (for me, at least). Okay, when I read three of them in a row, it probably wasn't a good idea (I get a little sour on things), but I still read and enjoyed them. It's like eating chicken every Monday. Sounds boring, right? But it isn't just plain chicken. It could be chicken parm, chicken in white sauce on shells, chicken sandwiches...you get the idea. That's how Grey's Farm series feels to me.

So why am I chomping at the bit to read the next of Grey's books (Love Means ... No Fear, fyi) and not just reading it?

Well, for one I want to finish the book I'm reading (The Lexicographer's Dilemma, the review should be up by end of the week), two I shouldn't be buying more books (I have over 20 that I already own that should be read), and three, even if I'm really in the mood for one of his books (aka, something with emotional struggle that has a HEA), I can't really excuse buying his new one when I have four others that would work, plus a kindle full of other stories that match that description. But damn you, Grey, I still want to buy it.

Okay, so this wasn't really about reading, it was about me resisting the temptation that is an author who produces cookie cutter books (I mean this in a good way, not a bad way). But to make it less off topic, what do you do? Do you like your favorite authors to surprise you? Or do you want what they write to be what they always write?

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