I’m convinced that pretty much every good page-turner book will have something wrong with it. Probably something big and structural too, not just like an awkward phrase here and there. I think this is likely because I think most authors are not going to be good enough to write a book which is not only a page turner but is also flawless. But there is nothing with a page-turner as such. What’s more, seing a page-turner is not only not a bad thing, it’s actively a good thing.

So I’m in the middle of moving to a new place. My friend went to Mozambique and left me his jeep for the summer. It’s a good sized one so I can fit a lot of boxes in the back. So I’m hauling a lot of crap (and as I lug stuff I become increasingly convinced that it’s all crap, crap that only a dolt like me would own: smart people own light things and few of them) back and forth from current place to new place. This is tiring and leaves me kinda sore, despite the precautionary back brace. I slept like 11 hours last night, I was so tired. I’ve had a great day, though, in part because I haven’t done any moving yet. I’m gonna once I finish this blog post.

Instead of moving, after sleeping in and eating breakfast I laid in bed and read Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Graveyard Book for a while. Then my wife and I walked the dog. Then I went back to bed to read. (Then I had some delicious baked zuccini and onions that I made last night.)

I finished the book. It’s good. The tone… that’s not the right word but I can’t think of it, I want the visual analog to “tone” … is similar to his Coraline: dark, creepy, magical.

I started it 2 or 3 days ago or maybe it was yesterday. It’s not perfect but it doesn’t have to be. To my mind this is something that characterizes a lot of page turners – forgivable imperfection. No, imperfections that you don’t forgive so much as not care about, because you’re so busy with getting to the back of the book and the fun or compelling-ness of what happens en route. It’s like the last Harry Potter book – characters underdeveloped sometimes, events that should have been a bigger deal in the book’s world seem not to have the weight for the characters that they should (like Harry using an unforgivable curse), but that’s not the point.

Since a fair bit of what I do for a living involves reading, and reading things that are not written for the sake of reading but for others thing conveyed or accomplished by reading and writing (they’re about effects like giving contents or convincing people of things, etc), I sometimes get tired of books. Page turners are great for this, reminding me that reading can be fun and can be an end in itself, reading for what happens in that reading rather than for what I’ll take away from it or how I’ll use it or what response I’ll have to it. The only down side is that a really good page turner rarely has a satisfying ending. I mean, they can be really well-written but it rarely feels like I’m ready to put the book down. When I was a kid I would chain read to minimize this, reading two, three, five, eight books at a time. This was partly that I was disorganized and partly that I was a compulsive reader – wherever I was I wanted a book with me, and I often left my books places: this one on the kitchen table I left when I finished my breakfast, that one on the backyard picnic table I left when I went inside to get some juice, this one on my bed I left when I went to the bathroom, that one in the back of the car I forgot to take with me when we got home, etc. That way of reading also had the result of minimizing the “I’m done with this book but I wish the story wasn’t over” feeling.

I think this feeling of partial dissatisfaction when the book ends is likely something that most page turners have, because the page turner is about the rush of reading so it feels ambivalent when the reading is done. The mixed feeling is I think a testament to how good the book was.