Set Apart: Compelling reads vs. Ho-hum?

Ever picked up a book, read through several pages or chapters and… gave up?

I brought home a book from the library the other day, the fifth in a series by a favorite author.  I read the first four books cover-to-cover in a day or two a piece.  But there was just something about the fifth book… it was like trudging through a muddy bog in hip-waders under a hundred pound pack in a monsoon at midnight.  Blindfolded.  I plowed through several chapters, teeth gritted, hoping it would get better.  Gather steam.  Engage.  It didn’t.  I eventually plopped that puppy into the library book return drop, half-read.  Try as I might, I just couldn’t “get into” that book.

Was this due to an implausible, incoherent plot?  Cardboard characterizations?  Stilted dialogue?  A pace that moved as fast as a gimpy snail in a molasses factory?  Maybe it was bad lighting, a serious dent in my private chocolate stash, or the weather?

What is it about a book or an author that disappoints?  Derails a story?  Elicits yawns, shoulder shrugs or a No-Doze run?  What do you look for in a good book – one that hooks you from the first paragraph, grabs you by the jugular, slides down your esophagus, invades your whole body and being and won’t let go until you finish it?  Compelling reads are out there.  What sets a compelling read apart from a ho-hom one?

Chime in with your comments. Don’t forget to include a favorite and a few primo titles you’d like to recommend.

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