Monday, June 4, 2012

Confessions of a Bookworm

What I Like in a Book
by Moriah McCormick

RTW Note: In lieu of an author interview, we have an avid reader who's willing to share her opinion of what makes a great book, and what makes a DNF (did not finish).

I love reading!!! It’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Reading takes me away to lands I want to see, time periods I would love to visit, and lets me meet new and interesting characters. I love to read a book that pulls me in and makes me feel like I’m actually right there with the characters, experiencing every thought and emotion they are going through.

There are certain things in a book that make it a great read for me, such as the characters, rules of the story world, and attention to detail. I know, I know... pretty vague, huh. Don’t worry, I’ll give you more details.

I have always liked a strong heroine, but unfortunately I’ve read quit a few books in which the author had a hard time separating a strong independent woman with a rude bitch. On the same note, I love my heroes to be strong alpha males. Unfortunately sometimes this seems to be interpreted into an arrogant bossy jack-ass that won’t take into account anyone else’s thoughts, feelings, or ideas. I read books to fantasize, I love fiction and I don’t really care that people say it’s shallow, but I want my heroine to be beautiful and I want my hero to be strong and hot, hot, hot! Like I said I read to fantasize.

All books have their own story rules. This one is harder for me to explain but I’ll try. Down Home Ever lovin’ Mule Blues by Jacquie Rogers is a western/fantasy. In her world, the rule is that animals can communicate with each other but not with humans. If, in the middle of her book, Socrates (the mule) up and starts talking to Brody (the main character), that would be a clear violation of her story world rules (thank goodness this didn’t happen).

Detail, detail, detail! There are so many different elements that go into writing a book but if the author doesn’t pay attention to the little things, an excellent book can be ruined for me. Example, if someone is shooting a six-shooter, that means the gun only has six bullets and after six shots it needs to be reloaded. If the story takes place in Montana, there should be no saguaro cacti. People in Medieval England didn’t eat potatoes. I’m not a stickler for accuracy but sloppy errors take me right out of the story.

Another bit of information that for some reason gets overlooked is military details. In the Navy there are no sergeants. So many people seem to think that all the branches of the military have the same ranking system but let me tell you that’s a no-no that could cause a lot of embarrassment.

Reading is my escape, my way of maintaining what little sanity I have left after a long day with my bunch of wonderful (loud) boys. My idea of heaven is to curl up on the sofa and read a book that sweeps me away with smart, strong, funny characters, where the rules of the story stay the same from start to finish so I can play along, and where the details never interfere with my imagination.

Authors please, keep me involved your story.

I'd like to hear from other readers.  What do you love?  What trips you up?


  1. The thing about the military rank annoys the heck out of me, too, Moriah. Some things you can forgive: language if you're not familiar with it, culture if you're not familiar with it, but military rank? It's a part of American culture, dummy! I was a copy editor for a magazine that had done away with its fact-checker, and there was a horribly embarrassing bit about mentioning an Air Force admiral. You bet I cut that out and complained to the editor about how sloppy the author was. We would have looked really bad if that had gone through.

  2. Great article, Moriah! Those are pretty much the same things I need in a book. I read in a lot of different genres, depending on my moood. I have to care about the characters, have to feel they are real. Some kinds of mistakes throw me out of the story more than others. I'm particularly picky about titles for noble characters, and time discrepancies, plus other details that I feel are easy enough to look up. There are some things in the past that nobody really knows for sure, and I'll give authors a pass on those. And, though I blame the editors more than the authors, I hate it when a book has a lot of typos!

  3. Um, that was supposed to be mood. Talking about typos!

  4. Great points to keep in mind. I agree on the heroine issue. I can't stand beside a witch in the grocery store and I do not want to pay my money to read about her.

    Nice post.

    Cora Blu

  5. Great article Moriah,
    I like to be kept wondering.I want the Whos, Hows and Whys. I like the character to grow and the story to have unexpected twists and turns. Jackie Roger's The Trouble with Marshalls has all of these and the book kept me thoroughly entertained.

  6. Can not stand stupid horse stuff. Rearing stallions. Screaming, pawing, nudging and kissing horses. Ugh. Makes a book an instant wall banger.

  7. Absolutely true, Moriah. Great article indeed - I can forgive one or two typos and even one missed historical fact, but when a book is riddled with... well, it's a DNF for me too.

  8. Moriah started to respond to your comments, but then, as she put it, "My computer flubbered." By that time, she had to take the boys to Cub Scouts. But she'll be back after she gets the little terrorists, er scouts, to bed.

  9. A book has to have characters I can care about and believe in. I can read a short story that's all plot and no real characterization, but anything novella length and up has to be character driven.

    That being said, the plot has to be well-planned, with no gaping holes or I get aggravated. I prefer stories that ebb and flow. I don't want non-stop action or long periods of prose - even if it's beautiful prose. A novel should be like a concert with a balance of andante, allegro, and pesto - the speed not the basil paste ;-).

  10. I rather like the basil paste.

    For me, the first killer is if there's no reason to root for anyone. That has to be on the first page, preferably the first paragraph. Maybe that's why it's so danged hard to write a decent first paragraph.

    As for pacing, if the author errs on the side of too fast, I'm good with that, but not so much the other way. And I get really annoyed with lush language interfering with the story. In romance, repeating the same emotions drives me nuts (I want to shake the book and yell, "I know! I know!"), but I'm told we have to do that so I've resigned myself to it. Sigh.


Romancing The West welcomes you to show your appreciation of our guest blogger by leaving a comment. If there's a contest, don't forget to leave your contact information. Thanks!