Plenty of times Hank and I have come to the end of an enjoyable TV series or movie and have to hunt for something new. How about this one? We liked that actor in something else. Or someone we know recommended it. Or it got great reviews. Or the trailer looks promising. Okay, let’s try it.
But then, it comes down to this ultimatum: “We’ll give it ten.”
Yes, ten minutes is enough time for us to determine whether a show or movie would be something worth watching.
Often it doesn’t take that long to make a decision. The acting is bad. The storyline doesn’t grab us. It’s filmed poorly. For me, dubbed is a deal-breaker. Give me the original language and subtitles please. I can handle it.
Other times we hit viewer pay dirt although there are those days we lament “all these programs and nothing to watch.”
It works the same way for me with books although I measure my interest by pages instead of minutes. I don’t have an exact number, but I figure out pretty quickly, ten or twenty pages in, sometimes fewer, if this book is for me no matter the reviews or what best-seller lists it made. Perhaps it’s a case in which a well-known author ran out of gas with this novel. (I suppose that’s how agents and publishers make their decision when considering a manuscript although they are also mulling its monetary value.)
I know people who will finish a book no matter what. Me? Nah. I only did that when I was a student because it was required.
One of the joys is finding a book I can’t put down. Really. And I don’t mean what people like to write in reviews. But truthfully, this book steals me away from everything I should be doing like making dinner.
That’s happened many times: Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees; Sherman Alexie’s Diary of a Part-Time Indian; John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row; Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News; Russell Banks’s The Sweet Hereafter. The list goes on. Most recently, I felt that way with Daniel Black’s Don’t Cry for Me. And, frankly, I hope readers feel the same when they read the books I write.
What about you? Do you have a test?