Thursday, June 01, 2006


There's a strange, new word on the dust jackets of many bestselling books:


Such a book is so arresting and entertaining that you cannot stop reading it.

For example, Larry McMurtry's Telegraph Days is described as a "big, brilliant, unputdownable saga of the West."

Regardless of whether you think that this contrived word is catchy or annoying, what makes a book an irresistible page-turner? What books (or authors) have you not been able to stop reading and why?

Photo Credit: Clip Art, Microsoft Publisher 2003.


For me, I need to care about the
characters. I am curious as to what
they will do next and what will
happen to them.
Character development and suspense are the keys for me. I tend to be bored by stories that don't contain at least some element of suspense. I've continued to read many tired narratives because I wanted to find how things turned out in the end--the last Falco mystery by Lindsey Davis is a recent example.

Sometimes I know what is going to happen and am still hooked. WICKED by Gregory Maguire is a good example. I knew perfectly well that by the end of the story Dorothy Gale was going to "drown" Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West). I was fascinated by Maguire's re-telling of the OZ story because of its suspense and rich characterizations--Elphaba is ultimately doomed because she is a loner who refuses to work with others.
For me the language makes a books unturndownable. If the author writes in a language that I like and can follow I'll keep reading until I can't stay awake any longer. Authors who jump to mind are Peter Taylor, William Faulkner and Katherine Anne Porter.
I enjoy well developed characters and a detailed setting. I like biographies, so if I can get into a story via the characters then my interest is usually held.
It really depends on my mood and what is going on at the moment with my life. If something about the book resonates with me for any reason, I usually cannot put it down!
Please continue to share your opinions about the first question: what makes a book "unputdownable"?

NEW QUESTION: What characteristics of a book, genre, or author's style do you generally find unappealing?
There are several things that will keep me turning the pages. Laughter will will ensure my reading to the end. Janet Evanovich, Georgette Heyer, Julie Garwood's early romances all come to mind. Also, a good tense thriller that keeps me guessing is another guarantee that I'll burn the midnight oil. Lee Child, John Grisham, David Baldacci are just a few I grab as soon as they come in. But ultimately, the characters have to be interesting and sympathetic if not actually heroic.
I really enjoy books that just seem to flow. Like Lisa Scottoline's "Rough Justice". It was the first book of hers that I read and I've been a fan since.
the interaction between two smart and funny lovers...nick and nora charles are good examples...if you've only seen the movies, try to find a copy of the book by dashiell hammett
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