What makes a book readable?

By Mike Jastrzebski

I’ve been reading more lately. I tend to go through streaks where I read one book after another, often staying up until the wee hours to get through one more chapter.

Since I write mystery/thriller novels, that seems to be what I read the most. Sometimes, however, I like to move away from the genre and I’ll download a fantasy novel or a sci-fi novel. (Notice I said download. That’s because I no longer read paper books.)

I’ve also found that I’m reading fewer of the writers I used to read and more indie writers. Partly that’s because I’m curious about what’s selling out there, and partly that’s because the traditional publishers have jacked the price on their books up to the point where I no longer buy them, no matter how well I enjoy the writer.

But back to what makes a book readable for me. To answer this question I think I’ll attack it from the other direction-what makes a book unreadable.

Poor eBook formatting will make me put a book down and put the author on my don’t buy list. Unfortunately, I’ve found major formatting errors in some of my old favorite writers. I’ll overlook a few mistakes, but not many.

I’m actually a little more forgiving on punctuation and grammatical errors, but again too many errors test my patience.

Obvious amateurish ramblings turn me off, and although I don’t stop reading a book with long passages of description, I tend to skip those passages and I may hesitate to read another book by the author.

So what’s the main criterion for me to keep reading a book and look forward to the next by an  author? Action baby.

I want a book that moves along like rocket. I like to see the protagonist hurt a little. Beat him. Shoot him. Kill his friends. That’s what I want to see. Don’t drag me reluctantly into the next chapter–drag a character there and make me want to follow along.

So what about our readers out there? What makes you stay up into the night reading when you know you’ve got to get up for work the next morning?

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About Mike Jastrzebski

In September of 2003 my wife, Mary, and I moved aboard our 36-foot Sailboat, Roughdraft. It was our intention to take the boat south from Minnesota to warmer climates where I would write a novel. Six years later I have completed 3 mystery novels. I have published the first two books, The Storm Killer and Key Lime Blues as e-books and trade paperbacks. The third book, Dog River Blues will be released in early 2011. It is my intention to use this blog to share what I’ve learned while trying to get published. I will also blog about the trials and tribulations of living on a sailboat. We sailed the boat from Minnesota to Mobile, Alabama where we lived for two years. We also spent three months living in Key West. Currently, the boat is docked in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In 2011 we plan to take the boat to the Caribbean where we plan to drift until it is no longer fun.
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