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What Makes a Book a Keeper For You?
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RichMissTallant



Joined: 06 Jun 2008
Posts: 148
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, it really comes down to the little details. In a romance, these moments are especially important because they help you connect with a character.

Sometimes, I have trouble understanding exactly what an author is getting at. I don't know if this will make sense, but it's like this: I become disconnected from the story when an action or phrase rings false. Have you ever read a romance and been turned off by an especially cheesy line or an attempt at dialect that falls flat? In my mind, I'll ask myself, why is that character described as "screaming" when I picture them as merely "raising their voice"? Or... during a first kiss, or love scene, I'll think "eh...that seems a bit awkward" because of the way the arms are positioned or the body movements are described.


With a keeper, the opposite is true. It all just clicks and makes sense. An example of what I mean, just off the top of my head, is with Splendid by Julia Quinn. It's one of my favourites because it's full of so many beautiful moments. There's nothing exactly original about the story but JQ is one of the absolute best in her field because her voice, her turn of phrase, the qualities she gives to her characters, are so perfectly rendered.

Take the scene where Alex shows up at a musicale just to see Emma and ask if she misses him. When, in turn, she asks him if he misses her, all he does is look at her. It's one of those scenes that, while I'm reading, just makes me literally sigh. And another one of my favourite scenes is when they're at a ball and Alex starts fighting with her because he's obviously very jealous. They end up in the garden while they're fighting and of course, they kiss. It's by no means an original scenario, but JQ makes it so memorable. I love friends-first love stories, and in this particular moment, as a reader, I'm thinking - wow, this is the first time they've kissed since becoming good friends. It's a kiss that can make or break the beautiful relationship she's set up. While Emma is kissing him, she actually thinks to herself that it's special because it's Alex, her friend, who is kissing her. JQ thus perfectly echoes my own thoughts as a reader, and it all feels so right, you know?

Wow, that was long, sorry. But keepers are keepers because we love them and feel passionately about them!
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damfino



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great question! For me series definitely factors in, though if I really don't enjoy the latest installment of a series I love (which sadly has happened a few times lately) I've been getting better at letting them go. For non series books it's just ones I really enjoyed and think I'll want to re-read- though my TBR is so out of control I don't know when that day will come! Sometimes it's because the writing is just wonderful and unique, or the characters are so great that I loved spending time with them. Then there are some that don't seem to really stand out, but the story itself somehow touches me and I connect with it enough to keep it.
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WandaSue



Joined: 29 Mar 2007
Posts: 277

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A keeper, huh ... ?

It comes down to this: did I fall in love with the hero?

If "yes," then it goes into the Keeper Stack.

For me, the Hero is everything.
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Niftybergin



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1078

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always know that it's a keeper if I turn the last page, sigh a happy sigh, then immediately turn to the first page and start reading again. That's how I know.

But what makes the book a keeper are any number of things.

1) The characters. Something about them has to grab me, and generally my "keeper" characters are people I genuinely like. Usually they are people I would like to know in real life. I'm more a fan of "nice guy" characters than chest-beating alpha characters (male or female) who sometimes seem jerkish or strident or too in-your-face. I think I like vulnerability in my characters, maybe, but also a strong current of self-sufficiency and maturity. I like reading about grown-ups.

2) The writing style. How does the book read to me? Is the dialogue fluid and easy to follow? Is there a good balance between dialogue and exposition? Does the author pace the story well and reveal things about the plot or characters gradually? Does the author write well with respect to grammar and spelling and sentence structure and punctuation? (There are no poorly edited books with poor spelling/grammar/punctuation/etc. on my keeper shelves!)

3) The story. It has to grab my attention and interest in some way. But also there has to be balance among the elements, especially if it's a romance novel. For example, too much sex and too little relationship development will keep the book off my keeper shelf. (The inverse is not necessarily true.) Another thing I look for is "sensibility," I guess. Especially when it comes to characters' reactions/behavior, I want the book to make sense, psychologically speaking. I enjoy fantasy and can happily embrace the outlandish and unusual, but it still has to be grounded in some way. It has to be sensible and somehow realistic, even when it's fantastic.
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Maggie AAR
Site Admin


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2427

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a bad incident happen early in my reading career which has had the unfortunate effect of turning me into a hoarder (someone kept two romances that came from the UBS and which I would have to spend a fortune to replace at this point in time.) What I keep are:

Category Novels: These can be much harder to get a hold of down the way so if I like them, they make the keeper pile.

Things I can't later check out from the library: "The Color Purple" will always be readily available, an early Balogh not so much. So I tend to keep romances more than classics because the classics I can always get elsewhere.

Series books: Own all 1000 "In Death" novels Wink

Books I liked enough to lend out: I am often asked for my early Brockmann's and am glad to be able to have the whole set to lend out.


maggie b.
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JeweledSunshine



Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 13
Location: Oklahoma

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I pretty much only kept the ones that contained what, to me, felt like gut-wrenching agony.

A lot of Judith McNaught, several Diana Palmer (yeah, I know, it's all the same story), some Julie Garwood. Linda Howard . . .
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narose



Joined: 13 Aug 2008
Posts: 19
Location: Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm something of a pack rat, so I hate to get rid of anything, especially books. But the ones I consider keepers are those by my favorite authors, and even if I don't particularly enjoy one or more of their books, I feel I'm being disloyal by giving them away. Silly, I know. Laughing

Books that have strong characterization are more apt to impact me and are therefore more likely to be keepers. Also, a strong emotional element and a deep bond with the characters. For me, a keeper is a book I can't put down and don't want to end, a story that keeps me riveted from the first word to the last.

Kristin Hannah's The Things We Do for Love, Magic Hour, High Noon by Nora Roberts and Taken by Chris Jordan are a few examples of what I consider keepers.
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