28 April 2010

The Tortoise And The Hare

I have a theory (please bear with me as I ramble my way around this theory and eventually [one hopes] reach a conclusion). Y'all remember Aesop's fable of the tortoise and the hare? Well, I'm attempting to apply the fable to books... Not so much the actual premise, that slow and steady wins the race, but more that the running styles of the competitors can be applied to books. (I did mention there would be rambling, yes?) For example, some books are like the hare - fast and nimble - whereas others are like the tortoise - slow and steady.
Where did all this come from? I started reading Carol Berg's Flesh & Spirit. (Maybe it's just me, but from where I sit its predominately fantasy books that fall into the slow & steady category - all that world-building detail *grin*) So far, I'm on Page 92...and it's not like I'm not reading at all...it's just that it isn't a fast book. Compared with...Nalini Singh's Archangel's Kiss, which I read earlier this month and zoomed through, and with Kat Richardson's Underground, which was slightly slower...maybe a genetic cross between the tortoise and the hare.

Now, I'm not saying one is better than the other. Books of both the tortoise and the hare persuasions definitely have their place. I do like to mix them up - reading too many tortoise books can be demoralizing, especially when the TBR pile is breeding...

So, I'm curious. Where do you stand tortoise versus hare books? Is my theory completely out the window? And, if not, do you prefer one over the other or do you like them both? And would you agree that you have to be in the right mood for a tortoise book?

Edited to add: I'm worried that my Big Book Challenge book - Kushiel's Dart (it of the 900 plus pages) will be a tortoise book. Tortoise book plus
lots of pages... *worried*


  1. I haven't read any of the Kushiel books, so I can't help you there...

    I don't have patience for most tortoise books anymore. That's probably why I'm not particularly interested in reading fantasy!

  2. Ahhh, but Chris - you're missing so much :) Fantasy is...for me, fantasty has always been the genre that can completely transport to somewhere other than here. I have to admit that I haven't read as much fantasy in the last few years what with all the family issues (no spare brain cells :) It was actually Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths series that got me back into reading fantasy - thank goodness.

  3. Eh. It drives me batty now. All that pesky world building and details to keep track of! That's one of the things that I like about urban fantasy - at least I have the world basics down. :)

    Have you read any Charles de Lint? Gorgeous urban fantasy - I particularly love Someplace To Be Flying. In fact, here's a link to an excerpt, which is the beginning of the book.

  4. You know this was a hard book for me to get through and I'm a HUGE Fantasy reader. But for some reason this one TOOK FOREVER to get through. I agree with your theory that some books are slower and some are fast but it can't be based on genre b/c Anne Bishop's series I speed right through while this one for example I spent a solid month on....

    Usually I put a slow book with a fast book so that way I don't get bored wiht the slow book. Otherwise I tend to set the books aside and never pick them up which is bad!

  5. I agree with you. I'm definitely more of a hare reader. ;) If I don't feel like a book is moving along quickly, I get really frustrated with it.

  6. Chris - fair point :) Fantasy, with the world-building, the details and the characters...like you said, a lot to keep track of. Charles de Lint? No... Will check the excerpt out - thank you!

    Sarai - no? Really? A month. *panic* *throws hands in air* Oh well. Lover Avenged took me almost 3 weeks and that's a paranormal romance...err...UF *grin* And I agree with you about Anne Bishop's books. I guess I should have generalized my generalization more :) I definitely think I need to be in the right frame of mind for a slow book, and I obviously am ATM because the fact I'm only ~25% of the way through the book isn't bothering me. Out of interest, have you read other books by this author? Is this a good representation of her work?

    heidenkind - *grin* It definitely depends on my frame of mind...and I guess my expectation of the book. Sometimes anything but a hare book will drive me batty, but ATM I'm OK with a tortoise book, which is good because Flesh & Spirit is definitely a tortoise book *grin*

  7. Tortoise books scare me and I AM a fantasy reader. LOL. I'm worried about your challenge too. I think The Name of the Wind is going to kick my butt.

  8. It's funny you should say that - I've had the newest book by Carol Berg on my TBR for a while now and have been hesitant to pick it up because I don't feel like I've had the time to read a "tortoise" book lately. Although I'm not quite sure why I'm assuming that one is in that category since a couple of her books I've read haven't been tortoise books at all (such as my favorite by her, Transformation - it hooked me in about 2 pages and was easy to devour rather quickly).

    Flesh and Spirit was a tortoise book for me as well, but I read the second book at a faster pace. It just picked up the first book so at that point you already have a pretty good idea of what was going on and can just pick it up and get into it pretty easily.

    I won't lie to you - Kushiel's Dart will most likely be a tortoise book as well. It is dense and I found I read the first 125 pages or so at a really super slow pace. It is worth it, though - it is an excellent book. And I said I'd read the second book sometime this year too. (I actually almost picked it up instead of the book I'm reading now but since I'm moving this weekend I decided to wait until I was going to have some more time to read.)

    Kris - Despite the size, I didn't think The Name of the Wind was a tortoise book. It wasn't one that was terribly dense or had so much detail you got lost in it.

  9. I enjoy both tortoise and hare books, but I have to be in the mood to read a tortoise book. I'll prepare myself in case my book for the Big Book Challenge is one of those, lol!

  10. Kris - LOL! Don't forgot *nudge* that I too have The Name of the Wind on my TBR list if you want to tackle it at the same time. I just need a bit of a heads up to borrow it from the library...and clear my current pile of librry books! And next month (probably this weekend :) I'm going to write a tracking post for the Big Book Challenge. The original post can't introduce and track...

    I won't lie to you - Kushiel's Dart will most likely be a tortoise book as well.

    Kristen - really? YIKES! I had better book out a whole month for it then...or perhaps two? Oh, and Transformation is so on my TBR list! I think that was the book you originally recommended, but for some reason I picked up Flesh & Spirit.

    Hilcia - ditto with the preparation. And from what Kristen said, Kushiel's Dart is a tortoise book...all 900 pages of it *panic*

  11. It took me about three weeks to get through Kushiel's Dart and I usually get through fewer books in a month than you do. So I don't think you'll need to block out 2 months for it. :)

    I'd recommend both Transformation and Flesh and Spirit, but of the two, Transformation is my favorite.

  12. Orannia,
    To be honest I don't think I have read anything by her. I think I got her book from a library suggestion. Our library has a wonderful thing of if you like this author you will like this author list so I'm always in there checking things out.

    I will be curious to see if you liked the next one in her series though.

  13. These are great discussion topics you've been posting over here, orannia!

    I definitely have tortoise and hare reads, but most are somewhere in between. I read slower than molasses to begin with, so I those tortoise books sometimes take me more than a week to finish, which can be discouraging. Not discouraging because of the content of the book, but discouraging because I sometimes worry that I'm losing time that could be spent reading something else that would be equally satisfying. Those feelings make no sense to me, because what's the big deal if I read one book in two weeks? What's the hurry? I can't help how it makes me feel, though.

    p.s. I'm currently in the middle of my second 500+ page book for 2010, but it's still not the one I named as my Big Book Challenge read. Oh well. ;)

    p.p.s. My word verification is SCARI Kinda like those tortoise books! LOL!

  14. I popped on here because of the Berg book - I just picked up Collegia Magica -The Spirit Lens just this week,on a rec from a friend..

    I am glad she mets alot of my expectation - wordy, good characters and big on the world building.

    As to your question I am tortoise type book lover - I love the wordy scenes, the elaborate world building and the gore...

    Preferably something Scottish or 12th century Ireland and savage...

    Quest plot and death of loved characters just make a book better for me..

    I know I sound morbid - but they work for me.. I tend to tone it down with alot of the erotic stuff that I read, which are hare read, done before I have begun....

    Have you tried Juliet Marillier or Morgan Howell. Wordy and very torouise like, but so good..

    Hare for me is like Lynn Viehl or Jourdan Lane - I race through their books and want more, now. A little is the minimalistic wording that they use, the crisp cast and a mixture of formal and sarcastic dialogue rolled into one that they entertain me with..

    Good question - Happy reading week..