Recipe For a Perfect Read

While trying to cull the massive 60+ collection of movie posters for an upcoming Lurv’s Essential List of Fantasy movies, apparently J.R. Ward’s latest Black Dagger Brotherhood book, The King, has hit many shelves and devices. Most of my fellow Twitter reading friends seem to be reading it. Admittedly, I dropped the series quite a while ago. Plenty of reasons cropped up: the absurd slang, the never-ending pop culture and brand name dropping, and eventually the characters themselves no longer did it for me either. If ever there was a plot, I’d need a microscope to identify it. But I did enjoy them back in the day when paranormal romance was the majority of my reading time, and they were a little campy and fun for sure. Absurdity sometimes has its own comical value. Also the sex. Sometimes that was…not absurd.

Just today on Twitter, one of my friends retweeted someone who’d said that after about the first 30% of The King, she was finally able to get into and enjoy the book. Others already seem to share the same opinion. This reminded me that I’ve often wondered what makes a book a perfect read, despite some flaws or a slow beginning quarter third or half. I know I myself have ended up enjoying some books that didn’t start well for me, but I still tend to take into consideration that the first third was staggeringly boring, annoying or plain bad, and this reflects in what grade I give in a review, and it definitely gets a mention. Good ending or not, it’s usually a downgrade.

We see the opinion all the time that complete crap gets published and seems to flourish – so at what point are we not willing to look past flaws and proclaim a book wonderful? At the same time, what do we willingly look past in order to enjoy a book? I think reader reactions are rather fascinating in this way, which may be one reason that, even though I don’t read Ward’s work anymore, I still love to read how people are reacting to her books. Many seem to agree that the slang, brand names and other details are lame and tiring, but they usually also seem to end up loving the book anyway.

What’s your recipe for a perfect read? What especially bad things have you looked past when something especially good came along after? Can you overlook some bad things in a book to proclaim it a perfect read later? Are we simply more forgiving of the books we anticipate the most?

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  1. I would never overlook a boring first third of a book. I DNF books if they don’t capture my attention in the first 10 percent, honestly.

    I’d say a perfect read, for me, has a great start where I immediately wonder what’s going on. Then it has great characters and a great story. If it delivers on those three things, I’m willing to overlook a lot of crap in the second half. A LOT.

    • I tend to give up if the first few chapters aren’t going anywhere, too. To me, this is one of the biggest failings of a book, if it doesn’t have some kind of attention grabber almost right off. I pretty much agree with your needs for a good book!

  2. I don’t know if I have a recipe for a perfect read, but I do tend to finish a book once I start it. My OCD doesn’t let me give up in the middle! LOL

    I am one of those reading THE KING (but staying off Twitter for now!). While I agree the slang and other parts are tiring, I still LOVE her characters and I am enjoying the story. I was into it right from the get go. I think with WARD, many readers expect WAY TOO MUCH from her writing, like trying to recapture what they felt the first time they read Dark Lover. But the bottom line is, she writes how she writes, so just go with it. That’s also how I feel about Lora Leigh’s BREED series. Is it top quality literature? Hell no! But it’s my crack and I keep reading the books, even with the horrible editing and all. I go into the book knowing it’s just going to be that way.

    With that, a book only gets an A+ (5 stars) from me if it has that perfect combination of interesting and detailed storytelling, characters I can connect with and care about, conflict that flows well and doesn’t feel contrived, smart writing that isn’t in your face, and something that gives an emotional punch, but with the happy ending, of course!!

    • So that’s what I’m missing – OCD! :D

      Ah yes, the reading crack phenomenon. I do get that from time to time as well. I totally agree about the smart writing that’s not in your face. Redundant, repetitive details can be so annoying! The emotional punch is a must, too, yes.

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