The Beauty and the Beast of Branding.
I'm not talking here about series, because I think readers who choose series books have declared that they WANT familiar. But what about those prolific authors people consume like buffet style starches, piling them on and reading again and again. Where do THOSE authors draw the line (where should they?)
Several years back, on recommendation from a coworker who rarely steered me wrong (Carol Ann, I miss your book recommendations!), I read Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. I loved it, so I got ahold of another of her books. About fifty pages in I thought, 'I've read this book'. Now that may not be fair. I haven't read MORE since then, and I may just have happened to pick the one that was most like her first (though I think it was her second). When 'In Her Shoes' came out as a movie I read reviews, and it sounded like even though there were several overlapping themes, it was good. And I should probably also confess that I approach Chick-Lit like sushi—I love it from time to time, but only if it is really fresh and handled perfectly. Otherwise it has made me nauseous often enough that I am afraid, especially in a land-locked location, but I digress.
But what about other authors? Grisham and his legal thrillers seems to have enough different twists that I've read maybe eight or nine of his without ever being bothered (I don't seek them out, mind you—I tend to run across them in the 'exchange books' places around work or on my mother's shelves). Anna Quindlen seems to strike a different enough story each time that her familiar voice hasn't worn on me (and she very nearly writes Chick-Lit). Nicholas Sparks on the other hand? Full at three, no matter HOW MUCH I adored The Notebook (again though—I take my romance in small doses).
How do the authors that hit it, hit it? Or am I the only one who grows annoyed if it is TOO familiar? Maybe this is why I prefer mainstream fiction to genre fiction for the most part—the genre stories have certain points all of them hit and I'd rather be surprised. But besides that, add formula to the same voice and there is just only so much variation possible. I have also wondered if there is something to reading speed. I know many speed readers who consume a book a day and those people seem to me to only take away main points--the broad plot, a character or two, but they haven't read every word, so maybe the stylistic repetition isn't as wearing—maybe they don't even notice. My husband wouldn't recognize subtext if it bit him because he just doesn't read that way.
I read every word—always have. It helps with retention for the non-fiction content I need to know, and I believe it helps with style in my own writing. But maybe it is also why I get tired of authors that don't shake it up enough.
Do you like familiarity? Always? Within limits? And how do you read?
On a related note: My survey from last week about hand versus computer... I've decided there are two primary factors: the dominant one is what ELSE do you do on a computer? If you do other creative endeavors, then writing via computer is fine. If you do conflicting things... hand write. Second is age. Several older people prefer hand writing, even if for the sake of practicality, they don't do that all the time.