Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blog Chain - You Gotta Have Faith

I don't know how I'm going to follow Christine's blog chain.  Seriously, reading all those stories was awesome.

But it's my turn and I have to come up with something :)

In writing, we talk a lot about grabbing the reader from page 1.  From the first paragraph, the first sentence.  I spend a lot of time working on my first paragraphs because I know that agents and editors are pretty much going to decide whether they want to keep reading based on that.  It's the first impression.  A crappy first page is like walking into an interview in your underwear.  So it's important to grab your reader right away.

But what about those books that don't?

What are three books you would tell people that they need to keep reading even if they aren't immediately sucked in by the first page?

1.  Any book by Melina Marchetta...but especially JELLICOE ROAD.  Every time I see someone reading a book by Marchetta, I tell them that they need to give it 50 to 100 pages.  That's a lot.  It's a lot to ask someone to give a book 100 pages.  But Marchetta is an author in whom I have faith.  Recently, my friend Trish was reading THE PIPER'S SON.  She said she wasn't into it, and I told her to give it about 75 pages.  A little bit later she told me that on page 62, she became invested.  Marchetta isn't the kind of author who grabs you from page 1.  She weaves a web of characters.  They take time to trap you.  Every Marchetta book I've read has that "A-ha!" moment where all the pieces make sense.

2.  THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO.  The thing about this book by Patrick Ness is that the dialog uses broken dialect.  The first time I read it, I nearly quit, and when I see one of my friends read it or when I loan my copy out, I make sure to tell them to give the book a chance.  Don't let the dialect distract you from this amazing story.  And it is amazing.  One of the best YA series ever.

3.  THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY.  I know this one might be a stretch for some, since it won the Pulitzer in 2001, but when I read it, it took me 2 months to get through the first 200 pages and about a week to get through the remaining 450.  It's a dense book, and Chabon makes every word count.  But in the beginning, there's a lot to take in.  It's not an easy book to just sit down and read for twenty minutes before bed.  It requires some patience and dedication.  But it's ultimately worth it.  Chabon's book about two young men who bond over comic books is one of the best books I've ever read.  And if I hadn't had some faith, I would have missed out.

So that's it!  I could actually go on forever, about books that need some extra patience, but three is all I have time for.  What about you?  What books would you recommend that maybe need some faith on the part of the reader?  Drop some titles in the comments, and then head on over to Sarah's blog tomorrow to find out what kick-ass titles she's going to recommend.


  1. Okay. So I have a few of these books, but since I have to post later on, I don't want to use them all up. I'll share one.

    WILD THINGS, by Clay Carmichael was one of those books that was somewhat difficult to get into. The thing is, I abandon books all the time, but Carmichael kept me reading. I am not sure why or what trick she used, but I was faithful until the end.

  2. Oooh, this is going to be tough for me because I don't often have the patience to "allow a book to hook me". I'll rack my brains though, see what I can come up with.

  3. Totally agree with you o Kavalier and Clay. I also felt that way about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Took a LONG time to get to the hook. Another one for me was A Thousand Splendid Suns. Almost gave up on it and SO glad I didn't!

  4. AMERICAN GODS. Neil Gaiman is an author who earned my faith, so I pushed through the first 100 or so pages. It was intriguing and well-written but rather slow and confusing. A couple pals of mine had actually given it up around then but I kept reading, and found that once you reach the House on the Rock it gets a-freaking-mazing so you gotta hold out til then. One of my buddies who followed my advice told me later that from the HotR chapter he bombed straight through the rest of the 600-odd pages.

    I like Nancy Pearl's advice:

  5. Awesome post! I always love it when book recommendations come my way. This is a great question, too. I think my answers will be pretty typical. I'll try to think of books everyone and their dog hasn't already read. :)

    Thanks for choosing an interesting topic!

  6. Great idea for the chain, Shaun. I would answer here in the comments, but I suppose I should save my examples for my post.

    I do love that we're discussing these kinds of books, because it's always bothered me how the industry seems to have moved so much toward bowing to our instant gratification culture.

    I don't mind a story that takes time to build. In fact, sometimes, I prefer it.

  7. Jonathon - WILD THINGS, huh? Well now it's going on my TBR list. I'm like you though, I abandon books left and right. Usually I can stick out a slow plot; I tend to abandon books that lack voice.

    Eric - I can't wait to see your list!

    Corey - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has been on my TBR list for so freaking long. I'm thinking now I need to bite the bullet and read it.

    Leah - It's funny that you mention American Gods. Here's the thing: I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I think he's a spectacular writer, a nice person, and I even got to meet him once. But I just can't finish American Gods. I've tried so many times. I even bought the new 10th Anniversary edition. Each time, I get a little further, but my interest just fades. I think it's because the MC is so detached. I don't know. But now that you've mentioned it, I feel like I should go give it another try.

    Katrina - Thanks! I tried to come up with some obscure books, but JELLICOE ROAD and Melina Marchetta were on my mind because I just had this conversation with a friend. I'm really curious to see what you come up with :)

    Matthew - I can't wait to see your list! And I agree...there's so much focus on hooking readers and less on allowing a book the time to grow. I get that the attention spans of kids are shorter and that they're all about instant gratification, but shouldn't be be trying to reverse that trend rather than cater to it? I mean, I can't tell you how great it was when all the threads of JELLICOE ROAD came together and I realized what was going on. The payoff was so intense. Even my mom read it, and she doesn't read much these days.

  8. That's interesting to know, Shaun. My writing is filled to the brim with voice, but lacks plot.

  9. Jonathon - It's true though. If a book has a plot that takes a while to get going, but has a voice that sucks me in, I'll forgive nearly anything. The reverse isn't true. I recently tried to read a book that had one hell of a plot, but a voice that was so wooden and boring, that I had to give up on it. When I sit down with an idea, I can't ever start writing until I hear the clear, unmistakable voice of the narrator. When my editor bought Deathday, it had some major plot issues, but she loved the voice. I was surprised she wanted to buy it but she told me that plot can be fixed, voice can't.

  10. Ooo awesome topic :D there are actually quite a few books I ended up loving that I had to push through in the beginning.

    It'll be fun to see if there are any on other people's lists that I gave up on that I might have to give another chance :D

  11. These days, if I'm reading a book sample on my Kindle and don't like it, it's easy to give up on the book. I have so many other samples to choose from, after all. If it's a book I've already purchased, then I might force myself to read on to see if the book grows on me. But I'll discuss that more when it's my turn on the Blog Chain.

  12. Nice topic. And it gives a plethora of different genres for people to choose from as we go along the chain.

  13. Ooooh such a great question. There is such a focus on first sentences, paragraphs, and pages that it is great to focus on books that have more of a slow burn effect. Love that you mentioned Melina Marchetta - felt exactly the same about all of her books - especially Piper's Son, which I read just a month ago. It took a while to pull me in, but when it did - I was totally enthralled!

  14. I just LOVE this topic! I think I need to stew....

  15. *frowns* I haven't read any of those books, but Melina's JELLICOE ROAD has been on my radar for a long time. Must give these a shot :)

  16. I like Marchetta's books, too, but you're right. They are initially a slow burn. That's what I like about them. I see AMERICAN GODS mentioned in the comments here, and it's funny because that's one of the books that made it into my post on this topic.

  17. I started JELLICOE ROAD six or seven months ago, but ended up putting it down around page 35. I'll have to give it another try. :)

  18. This is a great topic, but it's going to take me a while to come up with books. You're right, but it's hard. When I was younger, I gave books a chance. These days--and this is so horrible--if I'm not grabbed in the first 5 pages, I'm done. Your books are on my list, though. Especially Jellicoe Road.


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