Monday, May 2, 2011

Musing Monday...Let's Get Real!

Lets wander over to Should Be Reading and check out this weeks question...

This week’s musing asks…
Do you care if the book’s storyline is unrealistic? Will you keep reading, or will you set the book aside?

Well, let me muse on that a minute....
Ok, after careful consideration, I would depends.

On the one hand, there are whole genres that by their very nature are "unrealistic", right? Science fiction...fantasy...
While they are not necessarily what I most commonly read, I do read things like that from time to time and have no problem suspending my disbelief for awhile, in the context of the story. Take for example a book I read..and loved...recently, The Kitchen Daughter. Not to give too much away, (at least until I finally sit down and write my review) there is a certain 'magical' element to the story. Before I read the book and was just hearing about it from some other reviews, some folks seem to have a problem with that aspect of the story. But when I actually read it, I found that I didn't at all in the context of the story. Now if someone I knew told me these things happened to them, yes, maybe it would give me pause, or have me looking in the Yellow Pages for psychiatrists, but I thought the author totally pulled it off in the book. I think a good writer can create a world that may not be realistic, but in ways is more real than real life...if that makes sense. 
On the other hand, in my favorite sort of books, mysteries and thrillers, I really think the author has to play it pretty darn straight. I think it is just the nature of the genre. Some sorts of books can have a bit of room to wander and some don't.

I think what is always true is that how the characters act and react to whatever happens in the story has to be realistic. Whether in the middle of a crime spree in present day Anytown, USA or on the evil planet Mortis in the year 2500, if we are dealing with humans, they have to react in ways that are realistic according to human nature. If you find yourself saying "No one would ever do or say that!" ...well, then the author starts to lose me. Now, of course if they are aliens, I will cut them some slack.

The question raises another issues and that is the the whole setting the book aside thing.
I am not totally sure why, but I hate to not finish a book.
I remember reading something a long time ago about life being too short to spend it reading a book you were not enjoying and I thought it was very true. But somehow, I still have a problem actually doing it.
Part of the problem may be if I am reading a book that I received from a published or whoever. I feel a big obligation then to try to soldier through it and finish it. I admit sometimes it makes little sense. If I am hating it at page 100, I think I will still be hating it, and be resentful of the time I wasted on it, at page 400. Still, I have done it a number of times.To a degree, since I sort of promised to read it in return for getting the book, I think I have an obligation to give it my best. I guess the question is how far I have to take that obligation. Or maybe I am just a very hopeful person and think the book is going to turn around.
No, that can't be it. 
But I do it with others books as well, books I have bought or books from the, as I said, I am well aware it makes little sense. But I just hate to give up!

If anyone has any suggestions how I can overcome this, feel free to make a suggestion. Too many books, too little time!


  1. Unrealistic characters are a big reason to stop reading a book...

    Read my answer here:

  2. I hate to put a book aside, but over the years I have learned, if it is boring or losing me in the first 75-100 pages it won't get any better. If it is a mystery, I may go to the last chapter or two and see how it all ended. If it is just downright boring, I don't even care how it ended.

    I personally have no problem not finishing a library book, or my own personal books I bought. However, like you, if I got a book for free, I try to finish it and write a brief review.

  3. I agree with you...some genres don't require reality but a characters reactions must always ring true or an authormwill lose me.

    And I too have a hard time quitting a book. I understand when it is a review copy....there is the obligation factor but I do it for other books as well. If you find a cure, let me know.

  4. There are only a few times I have given up on a book, although at the end of some I wish I had. I just finished The Tiger's Wife for our book club. It started out great, I was thrilled. By the end, I had that What Was the Point feeling. I hate when I keep reading hoping for the best and am disappointed.

  5. I love sci-fi (but I never read sci fi books) and those storylines are always ridiculous. Yet, if I pick up a book and find an unrealistic storyline, I will set aside every time.

  6. I think it all depends on the book and the author. I'm not one of those people that can't put a book down if it doesn't interests me.
    I read all different types of books, realistic and unrealistic. However one thing I learned is that it really doesn't matter what the book is about, it's all how the book is written. Every good author can grab their readers with whatever they write about if written in the right way. The author can take unrealistic ideas and make them feel realistic to their readers through their writing. They can hold the attention of their readers until the last words of the book. It all depends on them not on the topic they are writing about.


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