Reading for Short Attention Spans: BookShots

James Patterson, one of the most prolific authors writing today, created a series* of books called BookShots, which you’ve probably seen in airports or Walmart. They are very brief, no more than 150 pages each, and they’re designed to be action packed enough to keep you reading. Patterson didn’t write all the books himself; some are romances written by a bunch of different authors.

I recently read one of the BookShots, James Patterson’s Hunted, coauthored with Andrew Holmes. The chapters were super short, only a couple pages each, and that alone kept me turning the pages, even though I don’t normally care much for Patterson’s subject matter. Everything was very condensed, so there wasn’t much room for lots of character or setting development. The plot was actually good, well developed for such a short novel, even though there were a little too many gunshots and dead bodies for my taste.

BookShots would be a good idea for people who want to get into reading but don’t have a whole lot of time or energy to invest in longer novels. They cater well to the shortening attention spans of the American audience.

Personally, if I take the time to sit down and read, I want to be invested in the book, and most of the time, that requires something with complex characters and multiple subplots. Big fat books are very appealing to me, so BookShots seem like cheap shots. Yes, there is a time and a place for them, but they’re not the most satisfying reads in the world.

Have you read any BookShots? What did you think?

*It is not a series in the typical sense; it’s more a “style” of writing or a collection of different books that don’t all take place in the same universe.

Upon Re-Reading the Harry Potter Series

Not too long ago, my husband was going through the remainder of his possessions that were left in his parents’ attic and found the entire Harry Potter series, so he brought them home and I started reading them.

I absolutely loved the series when it first came out and obsessively read the first four books over and over (I didn’t own the last three) until I practically had them memorized. But when I went to college, I was finished with the series and didn’t pay any more attention to it beyond watching the movies (and I hardly remember the movies).

So these are my main impressions after not having read the Harry Potter books for a number of years:

(1) It’s a great story. The plot is well done, and I have always liked how things that don’t seem to have much significance suddenly become significant later on. J.K. Rowling is a master at “planting” items or people in the plot.

(2) It’s still impossible to put down. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I plowed through the books as though I had never read them before. In a way, this is almost annoying because you want to keep reading so badly that it’s hard to take a step back and savor the books. I suppose that’s why they get read multiple times.

(3) I don’t know why the haters say the series is poorly written or bad. Yes, J.K. Rowling does have some annoying quirks to her writing (using em dashes and ellipses too much is one that comes to mind), but what author doesn’t? I stand by my statement of some years ago that Harry Potter is not “literature” per se, but it is a good, classic story. Just because something’s not “literature” doesn’t mean it’s trash. Everything has a purpose.

Maybe after this, I should re-read the Chronicles of Narnia series (another that I dearly loved) and see if it’s held up well over the years. I already tried getting back into the Dragonriders of Pern series a while back and found that it had no appeal to me whatsoever (and I was absolutely obsessed with those books in middle and high school).

Thursday Three #43

  1. My thought on the Kavanaugh affair (well, on sexual assault in general): I honestly feel like some women are crying wolf for various reasons. It seems like something accidental or even looking at a woman the wrong way is now considered sexual assault if it is a painted a certain way. If that is really the case, then high school was one long, drawn-out assault, and practically every high school boy is an assailant. True, drawing the line is difficult, especially when it’s one person’s word against another’s, but the definition of “sexual assault” unfortunately tends to be flexible.
  2. Parenting books. Usually, if I tell someone I’m reading a parenting book, they start laughing because there is apparently nothing about parenting that can be learned from a book. But I find them useful because they seem to give at least an idea of what to expect, even though all the ones I’ve flipped through come with the caveat that “every child is unique. Don’t freak out if he or she doesn’t meet each milestone exactly on time.” OK. Easier said than done, I guess.
  3. Everybody needs to read We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. I’ve read a lot of “realistic fiction,” but this book is by far the most realistic of all the realistic fiction I’ve ever read and one of the better books I have read so far this year. Yes, it is incredibly sad, but it’s sad because everything in it is true. Nothing is sugar coated. The book is pretty long, but it is actually a fairly quick read.