Perhaps it’s a habit formed by watching Netflix, but I can only give a bad book so much time out of my life before I skip to the end and cut to the chase.
If I find a new show on Netflix, I give it a few minutes and if the acting isn’t sincere or the story intriguing I turn it off. This is a phenomenon relatively new in the world of fiction consumption. Many years ago in the stone age, we used to pay for a movie and sit in the theater for two hours whether we liked it or not; we used to suffer through commercial breaks for hours in our living rooms, because nothing else was on but the dumb show in front of us. Here in the future, there is always something else on, somewhere.
So, when I pick up a new book and start reading, those first few chapters better be snazzy and the story better keep getting better or I am done with it.
I recently started reading Origin by Dan Brown. I made it about 10 chapters in and realized he was just stringing me along for the next six hours of my life before revealing what his fictional scientist discovered about the origin of the species. I skipped to the page with the big reveal and saved myself six hours. The big reveal was a big disappointment, by the way. Don’t bother picking that book up.
I did the same with another Brown recently. Sandra Brown’s book Seeing Red caught my attention on the front page of a Barnes & Noble bestseller list one day, so I gave in and ordered it through the mail like an old-fashioned, Kindle-less reader. It was a total bore, so I skipped to the end and confirmed it all turned out just the way I thought it would.
If I am representative of modern day consumers, we don’t have time for books anymore. We want gripping stories that keep delivering from start to finish and we have the ability to search for them quickly. Books that pose interesting questions in the first few chapters only to make us wade through garbage to find the answers aren’t going to work anymore.