November 22, 2011

What Makes a Book Addicting?

I loaned my copy of The Hunger Games to Stephanie, and warned her, "These books are really addicting!" Which made me ponder -- what exactly is it that makes some books 'unputdownable'?

For me, the answer usually seems to be some sort of supernatural or fantastical element. With the exception of the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, although mysteries are my favorite genre, I usually seem to be able to put them down, and pick them back up later. And general fiction, romance, and most nonfiction are a breeze to set aside. But sci fi? That's another story.

Once, in college, I started reading The Sparrow around 12, meaning to read for half an hour and then go to sleep. I finished it at 7 am, just in time to get dressed for work. I worked in a daze, partly from the lack of sleep, partly because my brain was still on Rakhat.

And it holds true for most fantasy series-- Harry Potter? I read books 1-5 in six days, and then waited impatiently for books 6 and 7 to be published. The Hunger Games? I think I read all 3 books in 4 days. The Farseer Trilogy? As I mentioned last month, I devoured all of those in less than a week.

I don't know if it's the magic of surreal settings, supernatural elements, or just engrossing plots and quests, but I find many fantasy novels are addicting. (And with respect to the Millennium trilogy-- although they are mysteries, Lisbeth Salander is a pretty fantastical character!)

What books do you find addicting? Do you agree that science fiction and fantasy novels are harder to put down?

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