What makes a book “exciting”??

Now that’s a riveting read!

I was just thinking tonight (while midnight-munching on a bowl of corn flakes, ice cold milk and the washing machine swishing), what is it about a book that makes it exciting?

You can think about that for a minute. Go ahead …

I mean, what book are you reading right now, and what is keeping you going? Why are you persevering with it when there are so many more things you could be doing?

Is it an assignment? Is it something everyone else is reading? Do you think you will get smarter, wiser, more mature through the process?



One of the more recent books I’ve read for the first time (I read a lot of books more than once) was P D James’ Children of Men.

To be honest, I read it because it was a set text on the OCR A-level exam, and I was hired to be one of the examiners; however, there are ways to “read” a book enough for exam marking, and then there’s the kind that you actually want to read, to savour, to enjoy.

Children of Men ended up being one of the latter kind.

So the corn flakes and I were wondering about James’ book and why I read it cover to cover, and it seems to me that it boiled down to three things.

First, I had that external incentive about the exam-marking job, that I read 1/3 of it and became connected to the story and the characters.

Second, I thought I’d figured out a twist that would make the ending really interesting. Sadly, my clever ploy was never applied by the esteemed author so that was a bit of a disappointment, but the anticipation kept me reading till I was about 2/3 through.

Third, the setting for the last third was Cornbury Park, a wooded estate in my home village (“town!”) in England, and a place in which my children and I frequently walked. That really got my emotions connected, so despite a fairly anti-climactic ending, I’ll still have a warm-fuzzy feeling about James’ book.

Hiking in Cornbury


So how ‘bout it then? Why are you continuing to read the book on your nightstand?

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