What is the secret of a book you can’t put down?
As a reader, I have three basically different book experiences: the books I get a few chapters into and abandon; the books I can read, a bit at a time, over a week or two; and the books that demand to be read NOW. I can’t stop. I’ll read it in a day or two (depending on the book, sometimes in a few hours), because I. Must. Find. Out. What. Happens. These books are commonly referred to as “page-turners” because you can’t stop turning the pages. I love that experience when I find it.
Right now I am in the middle of Richelle Mead’s Storm Born, and it’s that kind of book for me. My entire brain is sucked into the pages (I have to finish this blog so I can go read…). Other recent page-turners have been Karen Foley’s Able-Bodied, Natale Stenzel’s Pandora’s Box, Nina Bangs’s current “dinosaur” books (“Gods of the Night”), and Beth Andrew’s Superromances. There are a lot more I haven’t mentioned — many of the early Blazes, in particular, hit me this way.
It seems like when I was younger, I read like this all the time — compulsively, non-stop — but maybe I just had more time then, and I was less particular. I read a lot of good books now (more even, with the Kindle, God help me), and I enjoy them, but I think the experience of being so sucked in you literally cannot put the book down gets farther in between these days, either because those books are more rare or I am just a different kind of reader. Probably both.
The books mentioned above are all very different. Then there was a non-fiction book, Cliff Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg (highly recommended for anyone who enjoys technology, even if it’s a bit dated). I still remember it clearly, because I nearly went into a coma staying up all night to finish that book. I think it’s one of the few times I stayed in pajamas all the next day, reading. But it’s completely in a different universe than the other three, and yet, still a page-turner.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have some readers kindly tell me they stayed up all night to finish one of my books, or that they couldn’t put it down, or read it in, as we say, “one sitting.” (Thank you, every single one of you!). Those comments were made about different books by different readers, which makes me wonder if the “page turner” isn’t more in the eyes of the reader than the writer. That as a writer, there is no magic combination that makes a book a page turner, but what hooks into us and makes us unable to put the book down is more about us than the book itself. People find their addictions in different places. A page-turner, like a drug, grabs us in some way that it might not grab a hundred other people. Maybe we see ourselves in it, maybe it takes us an adventure or addresses a fantasy that we have, or something.
So… what is it? What do you think makes a book a page-turner, and what’s the most recent one you’ve read? What was it about that book that reached out and sucked you in so that you couldn’t put it down? Share, and I’ll choose someone to win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate at the end of the day, enough to perhaps buy your next page-turner.