What constitutes a page turner? Steph Beth Nickle believes that, despite being an avid reader, she has come across precious few genuine page turners.
Contact us or share below your own opinions of page turners that you have read.
Anatomy of a Page-Turner
I have hundreds of books on my physical and virtual shelves I want to get around to reading, and there are more books coming out every day I would like to add to those shelves.
I have read hundreds—if not thousands—of books.
But there were very few I would define as “page-turners.”
Nancy Drew Series
When I was a girl, I loved the Nancy Drew series of books. Though I would no longer call them page-turners, I attribute the cliffhangers at the end of many of the chapters as the reason I read “just one more chapter.”
Today people have very strong opinions of cliffhangers. Some people find them compelling and a reason to continue reading. Others find them exceedingly annoying.
This makes me think of the original three Star Wars movies.
Episode 4, A New Hope, which was the first one released, wrapped things up nicely at the end of the movie.
I see this as incredibly wise. People who enjoyed the movie would want further episodes. Those who didn’t care for it couldn’t point to the fact that there were too many unanswered questions at the end of the movie.
This was not the case with The Empire Strikes Back. Episode 5 ended with countless loose ends. The creators knew they had a vast audience and had earned the right to end the movie with several cliffhangers that would be wrapped up in Episode 6, Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars Universe a Page Turner
If you are familiar with the Star Wars universe, you realize there are several other movies in the series, but the first three released illustrate the movie equivalent of a page-turner perfectly.
Personally, I don’t mind if a chapter ends with a cliffhanger. However, I take exception to books that don’t have a cathartic ending, at least to the main focus of that particular volume. There are so many books I want to read that I don’t want to invest my time and energy reading a book that is basically a sales magnet for the author’s next book.
The first book I read as an adult that I remember being impossible to put down was Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness.
There are a few different reasons that this is the case.
It was the first Peretti book I’d ever read. In fact, it was the first “angel book” I’d ever read. Because I’d never read anything like it, I kept turning pages.
I’m not a fan of thrillers, but I do enjoy suspense. I found This Present Darkness pushed the boundaries, but it definitely kept me engaged. I had to know what happened next.
While I don’t look to fiction books to expand my understanding of theology, This Present Darkness gave me lots of spiritual principles to think about. If this is done in an engaging way, it can keep me from putting the book aside.
Characters in Page Turners
I’ve mentioned several times that characters I feel strongly about are a big plus for me. While this may motivate a four- or five-star review, alone, it won’t keep me turning pages.
Those characters have to be on a fast-paced journey to keep me reading. The story doesn’t have to qualify as action and adventure or suspense, but it helps.
It helps if the author has created relatable characters. Quite some time ago, we did an exercise at our writers’ group that I found very helpful.
We considered characters who, on the surface, were very different than those of us gathered around the table. We discussed in what ways we could relate to these characters, what experiences and characteristics we shared with these fictitious men and women.
Seeing myself in one or more characters—whether in a positive or a negative light—leaves a lasting impression.
The High Lord of Lystra
Years ago, I read The High Lord of Lystra series and couldn’t wait for the third book in the trilogy to be released. Although I didn’t relate to the female protagonist’s situation, I did see myself in her character.
A fast-paced novel populated with believable, relatable characters, including some chapters that end with a cliffhanger, may my personal Page-Turner Award.
However, I have also read nonfiction books that have grabbed my attention, books I want to revisit even though there are so many others I want to read.
My Re-Read List
On my To Be Re-Read list are Free of Me: Why Life is Better When It’s Not about You, Self-Publishing for Canadians, Crazy Busy, Honest Evangelism, and others.
Would these qualify as page-turners? Not necessarily. But they have certainly grabbed my attention, and I know I have more to learn from them.
I’d love to know what qualifies as a page-turner in your mind. Feel free to contact me through the HopeStreamRadio website.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
Book Reviews and More
Images courtesy of:
Woman Reading – kaboompics
Star Wars – Weweje
This Present Darkness – Christian Book
Books – Pexels