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Recipe for a good story

My reading lately has been varied. In the last few weeks, I finished off How Not To Make A Wish, by mindyklasky, Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne, and The Inferior, by peadarog. Now I have started in on a behemoth— Under the Dome by Stephen King. Reading on a Kindle hides some of the overwhelming impact of door-stopper books, but when I look at my home screen, the little dots under the title that indicate length go most of the way across the screen, just as far as they do for the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy!

I enjoyed all those books. Quite frankly, I have reached a point were if I'm not enjoying the book, I stop reading. But thinking back over all those books, I noticed they all had something in common. Here's a description of each:

•HNTMAW: funny chick-lit fantasy/romance set in the Minneapolis live theater scene
•ATWI80D: adventure travelogue with a love story and a lot of comic scenes
•TI: YA science fiction that reads a lot like fantasy and incorporates a love story
•UTD: mysterious, even spooky story set in a small New England town; huge cast of characters including a disaffected former soldier; might or might not have a love story subplot but I'm only 33% finished reading it.

So, four different books. What do you think I saw in common with all of them? it's not that there was any one thing they all had, it's that they all had multiple things going for them. They all mixed elements of different genres into their own unique story. HNTMAW has some hilarious moments and a lot of local color. TI started out like Clan of the Cave Bear and morphed into 2001: A Space Odyssey. ATWIN80D was a snapshot of how 19th Century Europeans saw the rest of the world, with two very different characters starting out on what was then an incredible journey. I'll probably review UTD when I'm done, but it's already got plenty of local color and it's keeping me guessing if it's got supernatural elements on just science fiction.

That's a good part of the recipe for a good book. You need enough ingredients to make it interesting, but not so many that the reader's palette is overwhelmed.

So, do you have any examples of books that mix it up and come out well? Or any that suffer from too many genres?

FTC Disclosure: I paid for all these books except ATWI80D which was a public domain book free in the Kindle store. Jules Verne never gave me anything!

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( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 25th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks for saying nice things, Karen!

I look forward to your take on UTD as I've been tempted myself lately.
Jan. 25th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC)
I'll be sure to post something, probably a full review. It's actually the first Stephen King I have ever read. I don't usually like horror-- certainly not gory horror. I get nightmares and wake up screaming. So far, it's not that bad. The setting is so firmly small town, it's like Garrison Keillor's LAKE WOEBEGONE stories, only with a high body count.

p.s. so when does the next book come out? You can't leave poor Indrani literally hanging!
Jan. 25th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
The setting is so firmly small town, it's like Garrison Keillor's LAKE WOEBEGONE stories, only with a high body count.

A good description!

so when does the next book come out? You can't leave poor Indrani literally hanging!

I'm on line-edits at the moment... So hopefully we're well on the way.
Jan. 25th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
Good to hear!
Jan. 25th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, that is VERY good to hear!
Jan. 25th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
The first book that came to mind was The Color of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon.) It's magical realism, but it blends historical with mystery with several different love stories all in one. Well done. Always kept my interest.
Jan. 25th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I never heard of that one. I like the title a lot. I'll have to look it up. I started Rothfuss' NAME OF THE WIND but we got all the way to the end of the free sample and the only female character even mentioned in passing was a horse, so I passed on it.

We all have our quirks.
Jan. 25th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
No love for those estrogen-free novels, eh? Me either.

Shadow of the Wind, not color. D'oh! That was Pocahontas! Great book.
Jan. 25th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
D'oh for me, too! I have a daughter who loved that movie. I understand they did a remake but with blue people on an alien world. -)
Jan. 25th, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)
Ah, I think I've heard of that movie. ;)
Jan. 25th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the kind words (and the great company!)
Jan. 25th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! You'll notice the long-dead and the fabulously wealthy have no need for LJ accounts. -)
Jan. 25th, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)
I wonder if someone will create an LJ account named jverne, just to say they did it.
Jan. 25th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Could be! Laura Ingalls Wilder is on Twitter.
Jan. 25th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
You know, I don't have that many novels on my completed list that mix things up very much, but at the same time you can't help but get some cross-pollenization these days. I am always up for new titles to add to my to-be-read pile, however.
Jan. 25th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
Well, I didn't really think of these as "cross-genre" until I started to describe them in my mind.

And my TBR pile is now digital but huge.
Jan. 25th, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
Amazon loves you.... They should send you stock as a bonus. ;-)
Jan. 25th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
I would take payment in Kindles and give them to all my friends.
Jan. 25th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, as a Kindle owner you'll love this.

Seems that the Cincinnati City Council, under the heading of wanting to go Green, decided to buy Kindle DXes for not only the nine Councilmembers and the Mayor, but their assistants as well. Unfortunately for them, that became a bit of a brouhaha.

Jan. 25th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
Phfft! Not a good use for that technology! The QUE is the only eReader that is really aimed at business users and it costs even MORE than a DX! I do know some agents who have either a Kindle or a Sony, though, and they like them for reading submissions.
Jan. 25th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
The original news reports had it such that the DX was going to completely replace all paperwork for Council, and I was more than a bit annoyed at the "pie in the sky paperless office" pronouncements. (I supposedly work in a paperless office, and I sign my name on more paper now than I did when we went paperless six years ago.) The news reports also came on the heels of news articles extolling the virtues of the Kindle, so in a sense of bad timing, it truly sounded like a bunch of people wanted DXes but didn't want to pay for them.

Ol' Charlie Winburn, on the other hand, wouldn't know the concept of spending a little to save a lot if his life depended on it. He also wouldn't know technology if it bit him in the behind. And that's coming from a guy who's not all that fond of being in the vanguard of high tech.
Jan. 26th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
An eReader won't help you go paperless in an office! You can annotate but not edit-- except I don't know about the Que. But I do know that absolutely nothing in history has killed more trees than the invention of the laser printer.

These guys would have been better off spending the money on some decent netbooks.
Jan. 26th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
Yeah, I know. Believe me, I know. I'm extremely glad I'm not a resident of the city itself because I couldn't handle this crew.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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