Got a Novel to Recommend?

Lately my reading adventures have been disappointing. I’m in the habit of posting reviews on Goodreads of the novels I read, and recently have given several three-star ratings, which signify average or mediocre. Is it me, or is it the books? Am I too picky, or am I reading books that are not right for me? I don’t think I’m too picky, and I tend to read novels that come with good recommendations from reviewers or are written by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past.

Whatever the reason, recent reads have fallen short of my expectations: Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places received strong reviews on Goodreads, but I found it a standard whodunit. Emily Gould’s Friendship (which I assigned two stars) received a good rating in Entertainment Weekly. I disliked its characters and weak plot. Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s The Husband Habit is too preachy, a surprise since she’s an author I usually enjoy.

Maybe I’m analyzing the novels I read with a more critical eye because I’ve written a novel. I certainly don’t believe that my writing is superior, but perhaps I have become more aware of errors, plot holes, or inconsistencies that can plague a finished product. I want to return to reading a novel for sheer pleasure, but it seems that a book now has to have a thoroughly compelling plot or irresistible characters for me to lose myself in it (as I did with Sarah Waters’s The Paying Guests). Or, maybe I’ve read too much in certain genres, and I need to expand my horizons? Or, maybe my interests have changed, and I need to branch out and sample authors who are new to me. Any suggestions?

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