This week's BTT:
"If you’re anything like me, one of your favourite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next? Or, um, is it just me?"
This is a tricky one to answer.
It possibly depends what mood I am in. If I'm feeling a bit off colour or lying in the sunshine then I am quite capable of reading books that require absolutely no effort and therefore no storyline to speak of. I could confess to the holiday in Portugal a few years ago where I read around ten Mills and Boon books back-to-back over the course of a couple of days*. But no. I don't think I will. I am also capable of reading books that require lots of effort - such as reading War and Peace whilst enjoying Thailand's beaches!
I will forgive a book a lot if it's got a fast-paced story (The DaVinci Code, anyone?) and I have that "I really want to know what happens next" feeling, however I've also found myself utterly unable to continue to read a book if the prose is too clunky or the dialogue stilted. I just can't stand sloppy writing even if the story is good. For example, I love the Bourne films but just can't read the books.
In spite of the best efforts of Mrs Brown and Mrs Collier (my A Level English Lit teachers), I don't think that I really look for "literary meaning beneath layers of metaphor", at least not consciously. I notice sentence structure though and pay attention to the author's choice of words. This habit developed after spending lessons examining the words of Shakespeare and Austen in very close detail and it's not left me yet!
For me, character development and authenticity is really important - more so than the descriptive elements of a book. Is it realistic that this person will react in the way that they do? Does the way they speak and feel feel convincing? Of course, it always helps if I like them or empathise with their situation!
I'm not snobbish about what I read - I enjoy quite a wide range of genres - and to enjoy a book it's all about pulling together the elements of an interesting story, convincing characters, good dialogue and descriptive text. Perhaps the answer is that I'll read a story because it has a "want to know what happens next" plot in spite of it lacking these features and not because of it!
* I will, however, point out that they were in the house we stayed in and not brought with me as my special holiday reading material!