There are some books that I just can’t put down, I want to keep reading non-stop, without any breaks, and I get into the “reading zone,” where I am not conscious of time passing by. These are the reading zones that, as readers, we all love to find ourselves in. Reading a book like this is much more enjoyable than picking up a book for 30minutes here or there. Why then do we not place a larger emphasis on book immersion when rating books?
The following are reasons why we usually don’t place a huge emphasis on the “can’t put it down” aspect of a book when reviewing:
1. We don’t always have the same amount of time to read a book.
It takes time to get into the reading zone and for a lot of us, that uninterrupted amount of time is just not doable on a regular basis. For some, squeezing in 20 minutes here and there is how we read, because we have other responsibilities. When we can read for a few hours and get engrossed in a book, we can find ourselves in that zone, but those moments come up very rarely for most readers. If anything, we need to figure out how to get into the “reading zone” more quickly, so that we can take advantage of the time we have.
2. Being engrossed in a book doesn’t mean the book is good.
This is a tricky one because a lot of times getting lost in a book is because the book is an excellent book. However, this could mean that one specific aspect of the book is appealing to us, not the entire book. If a suspenseful book is doing its job correctly, it will make the reader want to seek answers, and move through the book. This is usually done with good pacing, great chapter endings, and interwoven sequences of excitement. Even though great characters help make getting lost in a book easier, it isn’t necessary. So, at the end of the book, we might have a book with great pacing, but weakly written characters. As time goes by we will remember those weak characters more than we will remember the amazing pacing.
3. How we are feeling and what is going on in our life has a large impact on our ability to lose ourselves in a book.
Ever try to get into a book when you are depressed? It can be difficult at times, especially a more dense book. Ever try reading when you are anxious about something? Virtually impossible for me to do. Recently, while reading Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb, I was a bit anxious. This impacted my ability to read for a long stretch at a time. My mind was racing about the million other things I could be doing and I just couldn’t focus on the book. It isn’t the book’s fault, that I can’t focus on the book. Sometimes, as a reviewer it is difficult for me to know when my own self influences a book in a negative way, because of things going on in my own life.
I took me 5 weeks to read Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson. Just because it took me longer to read that book than usual, does not mean it was a bad book. There are times when we just want to take a book slow and savor it. I had a hard time getting completely lost in that book while reading it and I would stop reading often. At the end of the book though, I realized that my inability to completely get lost in the book isn’t a fault of the book, but just something that happens. A huge part of the reason I couldn’t get lost in Memories of Ice as much as I wanted to was because I took a trip right in the middle of the book. I did mention in my review that I felt that the book slowed down for me in certain parts but how much of that was the book and how much of that was me?
There is definitely something to be said about the ability to get lost in a book and read for hours on end, when it is an amazing book. Those are usually the books we love the most, the ones we are super excited about in our reviews. These are the moments we chase as readers, the ability to get completely engrossed in an amazing book. We need to realize that sometimes it isn’t the book but everything lining up in our lives to enjoy the right book, at the right time, with the right mentality, and with the right amount of free time. External circumstances are just as important to enjoying a book as what is contained within the book. Just another reason why reviews can be so highly subjective.