How Competitive at Winning Your Interest Are The Books You’re Now Reading?
And What Can This Teach You?
I didn’t realize it but I have a real horse race taking place on my Kindle. I didn’t plan it this way but I noticed that my 1, 2, 3, and 4 titles kept changing place. I usually read five to ten books at a time. This is not hard to do as long as the books are different in kind. Right now I have four books that are neck and neck in claiming my attention.
Win, Place, & Show
This morning first place is held by a 1890’s historical romance. In second place is an Amish romance. Third is claimed by a book of short stories by Alice Munro. And at a close fourth place is a romance that takes place on a Mississippi paddle boat. None of these stories are confusable with the others. Each is being read for enjoyment. (I must say, Alice Munro, is being read because, like a vitamin, ‘it’s said to be good for me’ – fortunately, she is just as enjoyable as the others.)
Go to the Races
When I open my Kindle I have a choice. I can continue reading the last book I was reading or I can go to the list of books and select another book I am reading or even start a new book. It all gets down to which book, of the books I'm reading, has most captured my interest. Has the book I was last reading flagged? Are we at a sagging middle in that book? Or do I just feel like reading a different book? I noticed that the Amish book has been wining very often since it entered the race. I think the Amish book offers more rewards for reading per page. But this is also a matter taste: like when you want to eat something salty and not have a sweet.
It’s Just a Measure of ‘Come Back’ Interest
Since books will be finished and new books added while the race is still going on, (the race never stops), it’s not a race to see who wins at a given length (like the mile and a quarter). It’s a race to see how different books stack up against each other in commanding a reader's interest at any given moment.
What you can learn if you are a writer.
If you’re a writer, it is instructive to observe how given books compete for your interest at various stages of their plots. It is also interesting to note what is happening in a narrative when you switch to one of the other books. (Why did you switch?)
Some Books You Never Go Back To
I’ve noticed that some books drop behind as new books are added and old books are finished. Some of these books never get finished. I think much can be learned from the books you did not finish. The world of reading is changing. The eBook reader has turned the old stack of books into cable TV. On cable TV you can change stations and thus progams with the click of a button. While cable TV has offered up to 500 stations, my Kindle now has over 1,200 books on it. That dwarfs cable TV.
So Much to Read & So Little Time
With so many books waiting to read and so little time to read, the competition is fierce. Writing today must compete with hundreds of books that are just a click away. There is also no physical book in the room to remind a reader of his need to finish that book. Indeed, writers today must write in a way that can compete with several other books being read at the same time.
In order to do this well, writers should ‘go to the races’ and observe which ‘horses’ are winning and which are losing. Writers may not know it, but they are going to be in that race and it is a race for survival.