The Heartbreak of the Unposted:
Why I Don't Finish (and Post) Every Book I Start
By Red Velvette
Why do we review certain books and not others? How can an author get a Read Local review? Well, usually, we read what we like. A good title, a recommendation from a friend, nifty cover art, an intriguing synopsis on the back cover . . . . I never know what will strike my fancy. Small, locally owned bookshops are gold for bibliophiles (check these out if you're on the road). I love a good used-book shop where you can chat with the owner, and authors do signings, and maybe there’s a shop cat begging for attention as you browse the shelves for brand-new or well-loved volumes.
Of course, authors and readers can send us a book idea for review here, and we will happily give it a look. Simply, I love being introduced to great new books! I’m always looking for a new favorite author. Send us what you’ve read or written and we may give it a read. Of course, we look for lesser known authors and books published by smaller publishing houses. We like to give independent authors a chance for broader readership. We like to promote the writers and books overlooked by the “big guys.” We value the treasures that may have slipped through the cracks. Sage Webb recently wrote a bit on this very thing.
While I can speak only for myself, the best stories have meat on the bones: well-developed characters, well-paced action, and a strong sense of place. I love reading about the locations I have visited. I admire an author who can give the reader a real feel for place and time. Let me feel the wind from John Wayne’s Point at Monument Valley, let me touch the cool water of Hilo Bay, let me feel the sweat during a hike at Bandolier. My favorite stories are true. As a student of history, I enjoy biographies and stories from real experiences. Stories from the trenches of Verdun, the beaches of Normandy, the fields of Gettysburg, the desert of Mogadishu . . . these are my bread and butter. Give me a small, personal piece of these huge events, and I will devour what you’ve written. But give me a simple story of the mountains of Waimea, the streets of San Diego, the plaza at Santa Fe, and I will love it just as much. What I like is reality from a new perspective. Give me an honest story about real events or real people, and I will relish every word. What did Papa say? “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” That’s what I look for, that’s what I value from a writer.
But what doesn't make it up here? Because, yeah, sometimes I don't finish books.
Recently I picked up a novel that seemed like it was right up my alley. While fiction is not necessarily my brand of vodka, I do enjoy a well-told story, so I thought “let’s do this thing.” It was a story of the revolution and 1960s Cuba, written by a Cuban author, and I thought “here comes some real perspective.” After three chapters, I put down the book and have not picked it up again. The story was muddy and bereft of meat. The characters were dull. The author chose sexual shock value instead of an interesting story, and what could have been good ended up being so much boring smut. Erotica has a place, but it’s not my thing. Clearly, the publisher was into this particular book and thought it was marketable, but for me, it didn’t do much. When I think about books to post here, I want to present works that will interest readers and maybe add some pizzazz to the everyday.
Recently, I picked up a small book on a lark and ended up loving it! If you have an interest in a quick read of feline-centric prose, check out A Cat. I love a book that changes your perspective, that adds to your knowledge, that makes you question the status quo. I love a story that stays with you, that you mull over long after you’ve turned the last page, that you will quote to your friends, or reference to your family after you've closed the cover. I love the richness of the English language, and I appreciate those who use it well. I love good use of vocabulary and syntax. Write me a book with lovely prose and vivid descriptions to flesh out your story and I will read anything you offer me . . . and it breaks my heart when I put a book down and don't return to it.