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December 10th, 2008

10:39 PM

That breaking point

It happened to me back at around 2004, when I hit the limit when it comes to romance novels, so much so that I took a hiatus from reading and reviewing them until late 2006. It was ebooks that helped me get back into romance novels. We may complain about urban fantasy and erotic romance glutting the market today, but urban fantasy and erotic romance were exactly what I needed to break my hiatus. They offered something different from the formula that was done to overkill in countless historical romances. After four years, I'm still allergic to anything by Avon. I still read those by authors I know, but most of the time, I give an instinctive shudder when I see the Avon logo on the book spine, immediately being reminded of the countless insipid infantile moronic virginal bluestockings hiding between those pages to spring up and drag me screaming into their abyssal world of braindeath.

Somewhat ironically, I am starting to feel the worrying signs that a similar breaking point may be approaching upon me where ebooks are concerned. The first sign of the breaking point is always indifference, and for a few weeks now I glance at new ebook releases and never even pause to give them a second look. It's like I can predict what they are offering - screaming girly gay boys, rampaging horny werewolves, emo vampires, two android-like males and the braindead woman they simultaneously protect and shag... did I miss anything else? And, I hate to say this, it is far more common to find badly written ebooks than books. And by badly written, I do mean badly written in a brain-numbing rather than amusingly camp kind of bad. Absence of momentum, terrible pacing, unnatural conversations, lack of characterization, mind-blowingly bad sex scenes often inserted at the oddest moments to kill the momentum of the story, and very obvious gratuitous sex scenes that are inserted in an otherwise decent story solely to meet the "erotic romance" requirement of epublishers... the cumulative effects of all these kinds of bad, which can often all be found in a single bad ebook, erode the willpower more than I'd like to admit.

This is why you see me reading and reviewing ebooks from four (mostly two, occasionally another two as well) particular epublishers. I've avoided other epublishers, especially smaller ones, unless I come across a particularly intriguing review of a book, because I don't want to hit the breaking point too fast. Hitting a breaking point is not like being in a mood where I can't decide what to read - it's a point where the thought of even reading anything from that genre becomes a repellent idea, forcing me to read outside the genre to "heal". And because I love romance, it's not a pleasant feeling to find oneself unable to read it, kind of like an alcoholic suddenly waking up one morning to find himself allergic to liquor. Sticking to those four epublishers help me control somewhat the quality of the ebooks I am reading. I know these four houses have better quality control than other epublishers, so in a way, I know that I am mostly getting stuff that has been mostly adequately edited and is generally readable.

But even then, I've been glossing over recent releases because I'm finding myself becoming disinterested with what the genre is offering. A few years ago, everything feels new, raw, fresh, and exciting. Now, everything feels stale and overdone. New authors seem to be mirrors of established authors, writing the same unadventurous fare. I want to read something that really make me sit up and go wow, this is really good, I can reread it again and again, and give it a review with a score that is 95 and above. If I can find that ebook, perhaps I will feel the mood coming back on...

Anyway, here's hoping that I can find a way (read: ebook) to keep that breaking point away for a while longer!




5 comment(s).

Posted by Anne Douglas:

I've been and done the same thing. I didn't read romance for years, and read only action adventure, then got back into it. I tend to go through phases of glomming onto everything I can possibly read for 2-3 months, then having a reading dry spell to break myself of the compulsion.

Feels kind of odd in a way to call reading a obsessive compulsion but I guess that is what I do. I'll put everything aside just to read one more book.
December 11th, 2008 @ 9:08 PM

Posted by Ciar Cullen:

Of course, you probably read more than just about anyone, so you've seen every permutation of the "four plots." I find myself swinging back to less erotic contemporaries these days, a la NJ Walters (ebooks at Samhain) or even my old standby classics--Nora Roberts and Elizabeth Lowell. "It's like I can predict what they are offering - screaming girly gay boys, rampaging horny werewolves, emo vampires, two android-like males and the braindead woman they simultaneously protect and shag... did I miss anything else?" This cracked me up. I do try to avoid reading and writing those. I'm not ready to join one of the Oprahesque book clubs here at work, but I find myself needing a bit more...something...
December 12th, 2008 @ 3:31 AM

Posted by Shiloh Walker:

So is now a bad time to ask if you'd like to review my January Samhain book? :P

In all seriousness, I understand. I was have an e-reading drought for a while and mostly bought from the Sony ebook store where I could get the ebook versions of the current mass markets just because I needed a break.
December 12th, 2008 @ 8:41 AM

Posted by Mary B.:

You're not alone. I've taken a temporary break from ebooks for just that reason. I'm back to historicals after a long while and enjoying them again. But I'm sure I don't read near the volume you do.
December 13th, 2008 @ 3:32 AM

Posted by MoJo:

When I get that way, I go back to "dude reading" and catch up on the male writers I've neglected for a while.
December 13th, 2008 @ 7:59 AM