Mark Terry

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Frustrated Reader

November 1, 2011
Recently I've been a frustrated reader. I read two terrific books - Shock Wave by John Sandford and The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan. Then I started reading a novel by a guy who shall remain unnamed, but I met him during a book promotion thing, he's been very successful and his book sounded like the kind of thing I would like.

Except I can't get into it at all. Too much unnecessary description. The guy walks into a room and spends pages describing the room in detail. Yes, I get that it's the main character's mindset, but it's boring. I've tried reading it. Twice. Finally gave up.

Now, I'm naming this person. Kathy Reich. Over the years I've enjoyed her books reasonably well, although I'm not overwhelmed by them. I kind of drifted off reading her books, and then I got the Kindle and bought 206 Bones, but put off reading it, for whatever reason. I'm 25% of the way through and I put it aside and thought, "God, where was your editor?" The narrative jumps around all over the place, she goes into long expository periods describing not only the technical things, but the history of neighborhoods, characters, parks, cities, streets, rivers... I gave up.

I'm not sure what to read next. I've been happily reading Turn Right At Machu Picchu: Rediscovery the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams. It's nonfiction, but he has a great voice and the topic is interesting and he's a good, entertaining writer.

I've got a bunch of books on my Kindle and I'm sure something will catch my attention. I'm still slogging through a very textbook-like biography of Theodore Roosevelt, but I gave that a break for a couple weeks. It's that kind of book.

How about you? What are you reading? Anything driving you crazy?

Hey, can anybody recommend some good MG/YA books?


Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

The past couple months my reading had been way down. Seems to be the usual "problem". The more I write, the less I read. Day before yesterday I read JOhn Hersey's Hiroshima -- which ought to be required reading in schools. Before that I read Deadline Poet, from 1994, in which Calvin Trillan discusses writing humorous poetry about current events from 1990 to 1992 (horribly similar to today's current events) and before that I read a philosophy book by Thomas Nagel, What's It All About? Which shows that whne I find myself not quite in the mood to read I turn to non-fiction.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Could be my issue, too, actually.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

I enjoy reading Sandford's books -- the Virgil Flowers series and the Lucas Davenport series and the Kidd series (although he seems to have stopped writing those) -- haven't seen Shock Wave yet. The biggest thing I've read lately is Neal Stephenson's REAMDE -- as hefty as a George R R Martin book. I enjoy Stephenson's writing -- REAMDE is closer to Zodiac or Cryptonomicon than to The Baroque Cycle or Anathem.

I've got Vernor Vinge's latest (The Children of the Sky) which I had pre-ordered from Amazon and which is still sealed in its delivery box because I have not had time to get to it. My stack of to-be-read books is ridiculously high (stuff by David Drake, Eric Flint, etc.) at least a dozen unread books plus a few more on my Kindle.

So many books, so little time!

12:13 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Shock Wave is a Virgil Flowers book. It's one of the best, both funny and entertaining with a lot of suspenseful twists.

How are the George RR Martin books? I've got a sample of the first one of the Fire & Ice series on my Kindle, but haven't really looked at it yet. I'm not sure I'm quite ready to dig into a series that runs over a million words.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

I'd read (and liked) some of GRRM's stuff back in the early 80s (Fevre Dreams and Armageddon Rag -- both of which I enjoyed plus a book he coauthored with Lisa Tuttle that I also liked) but then he seemed to drop out of the F/SF novel market for years -- I guess he was doing a lot of TV scripts -- and I had sort of forgotten him.

Then, after many years went by, I saw A Game of Thrones in our local library and his name was vaguely familiar so I brought it home. I liked it immediately -- and knew that my daughter would also love it -- so I went to Amazon and ordered a copy (I think a trade paperback) and saw that A Clash of Kings was available in hard cover so I also ordered that. Got A Storm of Swords as soon as it was available. Waited semi-patiently for A Feast for Crows. Then endless years went by before A Dance with Dragons.

My younger son (26) and my wife got hooked on the HBO series and they wanted to read them. No sign of the books (except for the newest one, Crows) -- my theory is that when my daughter's boy friend went off to law school and she went with him, she brought boxes of books and I think the GRRM books must have been included -- and when they broke up and returned home, she left a lot of stuff behind. So -- I ordered a set of the 1st four in paperback from Amazon. This lead to much complaining and back-and-forth theft of books between mother & son until she discovered that a brother-in-law had also bought a set and was willing to share (which saved me from having to buy a third set to keep peace in the family).

The HBO series is, by the way, excellent. Whether you read the book first or see the TV version first, there are going to be some plot twist spoilers. I would suggest reading the book first from my personal point of view. My daughter and I enjoyed the TV series even though we had read the book first -- and my wife and son were both delighted with the book even though they had seen the TV series first. Actually, my wife had taken to watching the TV episodes multiple times and she is not normally that much of a television watcher.

All four of us are looking forward to seeing season two of the HBO series and also to the forthcoming The Winds of Winter novel, although who knows how long it will take for the novel to appear. That would be book six in the series. There is also a projected seventh novel and unsubstantiated rumors that he may need an eighth book to tie things up.

Oh, the short answer is "yes" I think you might enjoy it.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Scooter Carlyle said...

I review scifi/fantasy fiction on my blog. Most of what I've been getting lately has been self-pubbed, and one that wasn't was the first print of a brand-new press.

The quality has been extremely low. The few books that haven't been riddled with grammar errors had things like poor character delineation, awful dialogue, and low tension.

I'd really like to find the gems, but so far it's been very discouraging.

I've been reading Brandon Sanderson and have mostly been very pleased. As a farmer's daughter, there are several agricultural things I question, but they are minor enough not to distract from my enjoyment,

7:47 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Bates said...

hey mark
yeah, ive had similar experiences

funny, when i was younger i used to think if i picked up a book id have to read it

but lately--well, over the past 2-3 years--ive found i dont have time to read a bad book

so if i start reading something that im not into, i stop and start another

i also dont get how there are massively successful authors who have textbook "dont do that" mistakes in their writing.... perhaps its a matter of getting too big for their own good... im bigger than the editor/publisher so i can do what i want sort of thing

maybe, i dont know... but i know that most editorial advice is usually spot on and its in the writers interest to take it

reading raymond benson's black stilleto now--which is great--but have one of urs up next and will be in touch! (backlogged with all the books i bought at bouchercon! lol)


6:36 AM  
Blogger Jeremy Bates said...

christ! whole message was erased!

anyway, just saying i used to read a book to the end, no matter whether i liked it or not

recently, i dont have the time, and if the book isnt my thing, i start a new one

concerning the bad editing etc, im also surprised at how there can be textbook "dont do that" in very successful author's works.. i think its a case of the writer thinking he or she is too big for the publisher... like actors etc, who reach a certain level of fame... personally i think most editorial advice is spot on and worth taking to heart

im reading ray benson's black stilleto right now and have urs up next! (have had a bunch to get through from bouchercon!) looking forward to it


6:42 AM  

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