Thursday, June 09, 2016

What makes a good read? part 2

Last time I spoke about what makes a good non-fiction read for me.

Your comments were fascinating! And I'm not sure if you saw I answered your comments on that post too.

I don't think I'm finished thinking/ analysing this subject but let's talk about fiction for a minute or three.

I'm going to do it in the same format as before:

3 books I loved
(I'm cheating and telling you about 3 authors I love)
  1. Joanna Trollope - I don't know anyone else who writes about relationships better than this author. I read something late last year by Tara something or other, and I had that same feeling. You're hooked from the start. And it's because you identify but didn't know you do with all these characters because she's identified things that are so real. AH. Seriously if you've never read a Joanna Trollope, give it a go.
  2. Dorothy Koomson - this author writes beautiful, intelligent women's fiction. They're all based in Brighton (I think) and you will feel something for the characters.
  3. Maeve Binchy - my newest Irish author. I started with her last book before she died and now when I see a book at the library I snap it up. She writes these ensemble cast books that span a good length of time. All the characters are real, normal, flawed people.

(I love many more authors obviously)

1 book I hated
The Royal We

I still don't get ANY of the fuss. All I can think of is that all of you who liked this book are infatuated with the (real) royal celebs. I am not.

I don't even think this book was well-written, and I definitely didn't give two hoots about any of the characters.

So let's pull it all together.

I clearly love reading about relatable stories, relationships, good or bad, and strong character development. I also like good pace, a well-edited book and good structure.

These days I feel like a lot of books need another 2 - 3 rounds of editing. I sound so snobbish but if I can pick up things (characters using the same phrases over and over, grammar, spelling, etc.) while I'm reading fast, it hasn't been edited properly.

What don't I like?
  1. super long books. 500 pages is pushing it. Back in the day I used to read a lot of crime/ legal thrillers and while Scott Turow wrote good books, they took far too long to get to the point :)
  2. books set in the future (sci-fi/ fantasy) or in the past. If I pick up a book and it says, "in 1937 England" I put it down immediately. Current day please - give or take 10 - 20 years.
  3.  anything weird - I'm an ESTJ, we deal firmly in reality. Although sometimes I think something is one way, and I'm swept along by the writing, I may enjoy it but I won't pick something up like it again. E.g. James Patterson - The Lake House
  4.  books where kids are hurt or traumatised, graphic descriptions of murders (I can't read most of my "old authors" now I have kids - fascinating to me!) or gratuitous s*x
 Please tell me what makes a good fiction read for you!

And now, these are my books from May - another excellent reading month with 6 fiction and 3 non-fiction.

Notable non-fiction
When Breath Becomes Air (the book that had me googling brain cancer when I had a headache). It is a beautiful read and so fascinating to me because he was both a doctor and a philosopher. The last chapter is heartwrenching and beautiful, all at the same time. I listened driving down one of my favourite streets in Jhb (5th street between 11th Avenue and Glenhove) during autumn, which is another set of beauty.

Simply Tuesday - probably my favourite of Emily P Freeman's books, which means I highlighted quite a bit. I still only gave it 3, but it was a high 3. Like 3.6. Julia asked me once why I keep buying them when this author doesn't work for me, and I figured it out. Amazon's $1,99 sales. That's how. I bought all her books except the first for $1,99.

Of the fiction, the notable ones were the Maeve Binchy and Nicky Pellegrino's Recipe for Life. The rest were okay and so-so.

What were your notable reads for May?


  1. Oh, Marcia I can't help but giggle so many things that put you off a book is a read for me ;) I agree though, murder and kids getting hurt is a big no. My May was a big reading month again - 52 0_o [I think I have a reading problem ]

    Have you read Ceila Ahern, given your love of the Irish? Also Dorothy Koomson is all kinds of great. My non fiction reading is picking up as I'm getting into more thesis work, so there's that.

    1. I have read every single Irish author, I think. I just chose one here but I have a post in the making on my favourite 5 :)

  2. My best read for May was the Book Thief. From reading your dislikes I don't think you will like it, lots of death, kid's suffering etc. But for some reason I really enjoy books like this, about the holocaust and wartime etc. I read 2 of Joanna Trollope's book and enjoyed both and then there was another one of her book's that I just couldn't read. I think it was A Passionate Man. When Breathe Becomes Air sounds like a book I will love. When I think about some of my favourite books, I realise that I enjoy stories about holidays or are set in a seaside town. Two of them that come to mind are Summer Sisters (which your rated 5* on Goodreads) and Nantucket Sisters

    1. I LOVE that we're Goodreads friends, Terisha! I did see that you read some Joanna Trollope. There is only one of hers I gave a 3 rating, the rest get a good, solid 4 (that is outstanding for me!)

      You will love When Breath Becomes Air (it's famous on the internets :))

  3. Your dislikes are similar to mine, I don't like sci-fi or vampire type books, and definitely no suffering or dying kids. I do like murder mysteries but preferably one where they spend time solving the case rather than focusing on the killing...

    My favourites are still romantic type novels with developed characters (not M&B type) and I like detective type ones too . Easy reading that don't require too much thinking but that I can get lost in

    My last read was looooong but sadly I only noticed it was over 800 pages after I got to page 100 by which time I was kind of hooked :)

    1. Ps: it was This Charming Man by Marian Keyes .....

    2. Which is such an excellent book!

    3. I read that one! It wasn't my favourite one at all but it was enjoyable nonetheless :)

    4. I need to read a few more of her books to decide if I really liked that one. Hopefully they are not all that loooooooong

  4. I love a story that pulls you in. And I really enjoy the sci-fi and fantasy things that you don't. ;-) I hate it when books feel predictable...but if I'm halfway through it, I'll still finish it.

    1. Something I've learned over the last year is to stop reading if I really hate a book. I've only managed it twice though for super terrible books. Like someone just banged out a first draft :o

  5. I am not huge on Sci Fi either - I have however found that being in the book club has broaden my horizons tremendously.I read way more books that I may not even have looked at myself. I do need to read a Joanna Trollope book -I think I may just like them. I have read a lot of Maeve Binchy years and years ago - my favorite and a story I will always remember is Circle of Friends. Oh and I also quite enjoyed Recipe for love - light enjoyable read Think I gave it a 4 (but if Goodreads had halves would have possibly been a 3 and a half)

    1. Oh see now I gave it a 3

    2. Why don't you download a Kindle sample of Daughters in Law or Other people's children and see if you like her writing?

    3. Brilliant idea! Will do.

  6. I cannot live without reading. Having an epub reader on my phone has opened up a world for me, because I can read anywhere, even in the dark. I read everything and anything, and will finish a book, even if I do not like I, just because, I live in hope it will get better. My other source of books is movies. If I come across a movie that is based on a book, I will read it. I love books set during WW2 or historical or fantasy or sci-fi or just anything. I will trashy romance too. Like music, I go with my mood.


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