Lola’s Ramblings: What Influences your Enjoyment of a Book?

Posted May 28, 2015 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 38 Comments


Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. This feature was previously known as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Design.

After I finish a book I always write my review, this discussion posts was sparked at one such moment. I was collecting my thoughts and realized I enjoyed the book, but not as much as I hoped and I wondered what was the cause. It lead to me thinking about the different factors that influence how much we enjoy a book and then I ran to my notepad to jot that thought down as I knew it would make a good topic for a discussion posts. As there is so much more than just the book itself that can influence my enjoyment of a book and I wanted to share my thoughts on the topic and hear the opinion of my blog visitors.

The book itself

Okay so while this is again one of those topics I go into deep thought mode about, please don’t take understand me wrong, ofcourse when reading a book the biggest influence is the book itself and all those other influences still play less of a role. But I like thinking more in depth about topics like this and trying to understand how they influence my reading experience. When it comes to the book itself it’s mostly about things like: Do you enjoy reading the book? Does it addres topics you like? Can you relate to the characters? Do you like the character? Does the writing style work for you?
So lots of aspects from the book itself and how it is written influence how much you enjoy it and these factors are probably different for anyone. So yes it matters which book you are reading, but beside that, I also think outside influences can play a role.

What outside influences influence your enjoyment of a book?

Blossom trees

  • Mood. I like to define myself as a moodreader and for me my mood feels like a big factor when it comes to reading a book. If I am in the mood for the book I am reading I will likely enjoy it more and if I am not I will enjoy it less. This effect can be small at times, but also big. I believe this can make a difference of about a half star or even a whole star rating at time, to make it more concrete. If I am in the mood for a contemporary romance book and force myself to read a sci-fi book without romance, chances are I won’t enjoy that book very much even if it is a book I normally would enjoy as I simply would rather read a different book. My mood can influence this in big ways, like which genre I am in the mood for, but also more subtly. For example when I am annoyed things that I can normally deal with in a book suddenly seem more frustrating, like miscommunication or the infamous obligatory break-up. Normally I don’t like those things, but in the wrong mood they can seem much worse, while in a happy mood I might not mind those as much. Ofcourse it’s not always this big, but it feels like my current mood and the book mood I am in can up or down my enjoyment of a book.
  • Season. There are some readers who are seasonal reader and are more likely to read a certain genre in a certain season, so in those cases the seasons will influence their enjoyment of those books. I have this to a certain degree, when the weather starst getting warmer I usually am more in the mood for contemporary romance. Usually I got to a lot of them after each other and after I have had my fix of the genre and my genre mood levels out a bit more normally and I also will be in the mood for other books again. I already had that burst of contemporary romances this year and nowadays I am in the mood for other genres again. I am not exactly sure why this is the case, but as soon as spring comes here I pull out the contemporary romances and I seem to enjoy them more in that season. My guess is that is because I read one of my contemporary romances, Pushing the Limitss by Katie McGarry, one fatefull summer and I read it during a few particulary warm summer days and it seems that ever since then I associate summer and warm weather with contemporary romances.
  • Previous book I read. I think that both the genre and my enjoyment of the previous book(s) I read can influence my enjoyment of my current read. If I really enjoyed my previous books it often feels like my current read is less good, simply because I can’t help but compare it to my previous book and want more of that. While if I just finished a book I really didn’t enjoy or DNF’d I probably will enjoy my current read more. Or in the other extreme I might get into a reading funk and everything feels bad.
    If I just read a whole lot of dystopia’s in a row I probably am in the mood for a different genre as I can’t read too many of those in a row. Same goes for most other genres, too much of the same isn’t good and I probably enjoy a different genre more after that.
  • 30 minutesDeadline or not and how close. I don’t deal well with pressure, the closer a deadline the more I stress, the more I lose focus. I am sure there are people who are the opposite as well. The closer a deadline for a book is the less I probably will enjoy a book. Just putting a deadline on a book or pressure probably makes me less eager to read the book and I’ll enjoy it less when I do. This is also the reason why I state in my review policy that I am a mood reader and don’t like deadlines. I will enjoy deadline books quite frequently and I can deal with them pretty well especially when I am in the mood for that book and can start it way too early before the deadline. Finishing a book way before a deadline gives me a weird sense of pleasure and achievement. Same goes with non book related things btw, I love being ahead, so much so that I am striving to be ahead with a passion, like how I am writing this posts on 29 April as I want to be two months ahead with these posts (I had originally scheduled this post for a month later, but switched things up as I wnated to feature a certain topic for more weeks in a row). Yeah I am weird sometimes, I know. So with books this also matters, I probably will read a deadline book as soon as possible and don’t like it when the deadline is too close. I prefer to read without the pressure of a deadline altogether. I don’t like deadlines and I don’t like feeling rushed. Some books I really want to read and accept them even though they have a deadline, weirdly enough I am also bad with staying away from deadline books altogether which my Bookish resolution Challenge showed and I failed in the second month already.
  • Previous book(s) you read by the same author. How much I enjoyed previous books by the same author also can influence my enjoyment, I expect a certain awesomeness from books written by my favourite authors. I set high standard for them, but also cut them more slack at the same time as I love their writing style and books. It can also set me up for disapointment though when a book isn’t as good as expected. I also expect a certain style of a certain type of book often and this can influence my enjoyment. Or on the other hand a book by a new to me author doesn’t have those expectations, but also less excitement to pick it up as I don’t know what to expect. This also applied to a series, earlier books in a series create certain expectations or a trend or standard on which I judge later books.
  • DuckExpectations. I use this term a bit more broadly. I already addressed some expectations in the previous books, but in general I think expectations can meak or break a book. Expect a kick ass assasin and get someone who cares about how she looks, that can lead to a DNF. Expectations can be very specific like that and apply to one aspect of the book like a character, but they can also be broad and generic. Like for example expectating a book with lots of romance, while it’s only a subplot or vise versa. Expectations can also be based on things you heard about the book or how much others enjoyed it. Expectations can be very high or low and that can influence how much you enjoy the book. If a book is better than expected it’s usually a good thing, while if a book is worse than expected it’s often a bad thing.
  • Surroundings. Surroundings can influence your mood or even how much you can enjoy a book directly. Ever read a sex scene in public? or a comical scene where you laughed out loud? Or maybe even worse read a sad book that made your cry in public? I think these situations are pretty specific, but I still wanted to mention it. Mostly this works through influencing your mood, like for example when reading on a plane while frightened is probably not good for getting absorbed in a book or wanting to let your emotions out while you aren’t alone can put a damper on the scene. I don’t think I had this happen often, I have a poker face for when it comes to reading in public and can read in public very well, but I have read a funny manga in public once where I laughed out loud and it was embarrassing, but not laughing also feels wrong.
  • Daily Life and Stress. daily life, general state of mind or the amount of stress in your lfie probably has some influence on your current read as well. I read while tired quite often and the more tired I am the harder it is to follow complicated plot lines or remember which side character is who. Or reading about a character who is also tired doens’t really help matters, This can frustrate me and lessen my enjoyment and I often see it as a sign I should go to sleep instead. On the other hand I often find that when I had a busy day the reading time is even more rewarding and I can enjoy a book more and relax after a hard work day. But when I am really busy in my head with a problem it can be hard to focus on a book. So yes my daily life and state of mind often influence my enjoyment of a book.

So while ofcourse it matters which book I read, I also think multiple outside influences can change how much I enjoy a book. It can depends on when and where I read and how I feel and what I’ve read before how much I enjoy my current read. And when reviewing and rating these influence might make the difference between two different star ratings as well on which points I focus in my review.

What influences your enjoyment of a book? Are you a seasonal reader? Can you relate to any of these factors I listed?


38 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: What Influences your Enjoyment of a Book?

  1. It’s interesting to analyze what influences pleasure in reading. I never paid much attention to this until I started reviewing. But then, so I could be as fair as possible, I had to really think about what influenced me to enjoy a story or not.
    I already know that I’m not a picky reader as to genre, writing style, writing maturity, writing perspective, etc. But I am influenced by many things and most of what you mentioned as a matter of fact.
    Mood is big. I have deadlines for certain books like when they are connected to a tour or I really try to read it and review it for near the release day, but I’ve learned that if I need to then I can rearrange some of my review books to meet mood.
    I am also influenced by previous reading experience in general and previous experience with that author. I give second chances many times when a book I didn’t like has a sequel, but I have to be in a more generous mood to tackle one I’ve already given the author a chance.
    I have to be careful about what I choose to read after a book that was either 5 star fantastic or the opposite.
    I don’t really get influenced by season or where I am when I am reading though I will say that I like to read spooky books in the fall and a few Christmas reads around the holidays just for treats.
    Fun discussion, thanks!
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Heart of Stone by Christine Warren #ReviewMy Profile

    • Same here when I started reviewing those things started playing a bigger role. Before that I just read whatever I wnated to and I usually only owned 3 or 4 unread books, before I picked 4 books and read those. If I didn’t like a book I put it down or just finished it even though I didn’t love it. I can’t imagine having only 4 books to read now.

      I can be a picky reader and a moodreader at the same time, so it can be tricky sometimes deciding what to read next. I also rearrange my review books to suit my mood and often it works, but sometimes it doens’t, especially when the deadline is close by. I sometimes give second chances to series, but not always, it depends a bit on the book and what I didn’t like about it. 2 stars or DNF’s I don’t continue the series, but with 3 stars sometimes I do and sometimes not.
      What to pick after a great or bad book can be really hard and can influence my enjoyment of the book. After a bad book I usually pick one I know for certain I would enjoy to make sure I don’t fall in a rush. After a great book I often pick a completely different genre or a book by an author I already know and know what to expect.

      It’s so interesting to see how all these different influences can influence how we enjoy books and how so many of them aren’t even about the book itself.

  2. I think you covered pretty much all of the influences! Which is why it’s so hard to truly quantify a book. It’s like art in a gallery. If you don’t like modern art or if you’re in a terrible mood when you go to the gallery or you’re distracted, your opinion of the works of art will change. This is why some people often go back to galleries over and over. Each time they see something different or have a different opinion. I have felt that way about books in the past. I’ve wanted to re-read them to see if I feel differently about them at different points in my life.

    Oh! Age. Age has a lot to do with how we experience a book. I used to love mysteries and thrillers in my twenties. I read them all and never thought I would grow out of them. But I did. And my abstention from thrillers is even more pronounced now that I have kids. I sometimes will read a plot about someone being kidnapped, and I’ll think about my kid in that situation, and suddenly I can’t read the book anymore. This happened with Law & Order, the TV show. I used to love that show, until I had kids and imagined my kids in all those situations and I couldn’t deal.
    S. J. Pajonas recently posted…The Conclusion to Sanaa and Jiro’s Story – RECLAIMED is Now AvailableMy Profile

    • I completely agree, I am currently reading a book and two weeks ago i was int he mood for it and now I am nto and I am just strugglign through it, while it is a good book, it can just can’t hold my attention and it’s been slow goign. That’s a good point about art in general, I know soem forced musea visits with school and one visit where some friends form other classes where as well and I have mroe fond memories of that one, would love to visit that musea once to see if I still feel the same.

      Oh age is a great one! I used to love high fantasy when I was younger and now I still read them nowadays, but I prefer it when there is more focus on the characetrs and not only on the story. It’s just not my prefered genre anymore, while I have grown to love a wider variety of genres now that I am older and I fell in love with contempoary romances and sci-fi for example, which I mostly avoided when I was younger. Also due to startign blogging and coming into contact with a wider variety of genres.
      Same with some age categories and how you see the characetrs differently when you are older or how I actually enjoy MG books now, while when I was a Young Adult I wanted to read adult high fantasy.

      I always have been an easily frightened person so I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but I can imagine how when you have kids and imagine them in those situation it really removed the fun out of those books and turns them into a scrae instead.
      I have that with books where someone loses their boyfriend, husband, wife etc. I just can’t deal with those as I imagine that happening to me. Same goes with animal violence or death, my imagination can be too vivid sometimes and I already have enoguh nightmares about that sort of stuff without reading books that deal with that.
      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Wonderful discussion Lola! This is pretty easy for me actually, expectations and previous books by the author/series definitely influence whether or not I’m gonna like the book. For instance, the new Patricia Briggs book “Dead Heat”, loved the novella, then the first two books. The third I was kinda iffy on and now “Dead Heat” was a total DNF for me. I expected to get a great romance from two characters I really enjoyed so when it was nothing like the previous books I moved on. Ironically, time of day is also a huge factor for me, I love reading late at night or early in the morning, during the day I’m like “meh”. Lol, I lack motivation.
    Lanie recently posted…Pew! Pew Pew! Books to Videogames!My Profile

    • Expectations and previous books by the author and series is also a big influence for me. I had a series where I liked the slow building romance in the first book and am now reading the second book and the characters are cold and hostile to each other and it just doesn’t fit my expectations. It’s even worse when a series staretd with you loving it and then you end up DNF’ing one of the later books.
      I usually read in the morning or late at night as well, I wonder if that influences me reading. I never read at any other time, so not sure. Sometimes I read during dinner when I have dinner alone, but then I read my breakfast book so I am used to reading it when I a eating, so the time of day doesn’t matter as much then.

      • That type of change never makes sense to me,ya know? Why set a couple up in one book for the next it to be totally ruined. Just makes me shake my head at the silliness of it all! Maybe you should give reading at a different time a try:D?
        Lanie recently posted…Pew! Pew Pew! Books to Videogames!My Profile

        • If I put a book down I am afraid I’ll never pick it back up again and it’s a review copy that I want to read before the release date, so I have to read it now, I have a beta read with deadline book lined up afterwards. It’s just so frustrating the whole dynamics between the two characters is weird in this book. There are some hints they wil be a bit more friendly in the future, but it’s sad it isn’t as good as the first book. The change doesn’t make sense te me.

          • That makes sense, I feel like that sometimes, so you’re not alone. Ouch, your really boxed in with that deadline:( Ya, just odd, it sounds like a branching book, ya know ones that have no real purpose just a bridge to another book.
            Lanie recently posted…Pew! Pew Pew! Books to Videogames!My Profile

            • I had a good month with only one deadline and now suddenly three of them in a row. They all are books I am looking for to reading though, although this one is a bit of a disapointment so far. It’s going to be a 6 books series and each book has their own plot and an overarching plot, but so far this feels like a branching book indeed.
              Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: What Influences your Enjoyment of a Book?My Profile

  4. Very good topic ! The influences… you pretty much summed them up ! I would say first, the maturity of the characters, I hate stupid reactions, stupid break-ups, convenient things happening in the story at the exact time they are needed, miscommunication and the like. I’m not a young adult any more and I can’t believe all young adults are that stupid ! Yet according to my mood, I can understand a few things that I usually hate in a character, then I call it a normal human flaw. Depends on the quality of the rest of the book, also. I read in public transportation, but I don’t mind reading sexy scenes or funny scenes, I don’t care what people think as long as I’m not disturbing them, I can laugh quietly πŸ˜‰ On the other hand, I HATE to be disturbed every 5mn when I read a book, but I’m a mother and I have 2 cats, so I deal, lol !

    • I probably could write another post about things in a book that influence my enjoyment of a book. Just like you I hate stupid reactions, miscommunication and obligatory break-ups. Some young adult books are well writtne, but it’s annoying when they are written like all Young Adults are dumb, although I also think they might be easier to relate to when you are a young adult as well. My mood can really influence how I take a certain character flaw and just accept it or hate it.
      I also can read well on public transportation, I have a poker reading face and I display hardly any emotion reactions and have no trouble reading sexy scenes in public.But I assumed some people might. And laughing quietly is a good option. I once did the laughing out loud at a cupcake decoration lesson because I was already done with my cupcakes, that was less good of an idea though, I think I disturbed some people ;).
      I also dislike getting disturbed when reading. My rats can be great reading companions, but also can be distracting at times, although I usually don’t mind to much and gladly spent some time petting them instead of reading, can’t say no to them.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: What Influences your Enjoyment of a Book?My Profile

    • Yeah in a romance book I expect romance, it’s weird if there isn’t. Or even when it’s not done well it’s disapointing as well. I actually don’t mind cliffhangers, it depends on how they are written.

  5. Deadlines are a big one for me. I’m not a particularly fast reader and sometimes I get a little anxious to finish a book if I haven’t posted in a while (like right now, actually- all that’s on my blog is BEA stuff and that should not be the case) especially in the book is a Netgalley book and the pub date is coming up. I find myself skimming a lot more and enjoying it a lot less because of that. It’s a shame that this mentality can sometimes make reading such a chore =(
    Danni Mae recently posted…ABEA Topic Day Two: Visual ExpressionsMy Profile

    • I think it’s not bad to have no reviews for a few days, but I know what you mean with being a slow reader. I always get anxious to finish a book when I haven’t finished one in a while or with a deadline coming up. I am currently two weeks ahead with review posts, which really helps. I don’t read a lot of netgalley books in time for their deadlines, I have to say I often ignore the release dates and just read them whenever I want. Although I have read a few books in time for the deadline or when I got them from a publisher and said I would read them in time for a deadline. It’s a shame indeed how they can make reading feel like a chore at times.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: What Influences your Enjoyment of a Book?My Profile

  6. Out of all the things you listed, mood influences me the most. But, it doesn’t usually influence if I like something or not. It only influences me to pick something up. I could be not in the mood to do something, do it anyway, and love it. I could also totally be in the mood to do something and totally hate it. For me, what influences if I like something or hate it has to do with the story and the characters. If I can’t connect to any of the characters and/or the story doesn’t grab me in some way, then I’ll usually not like the book.
    Jenni Elyse (@jenni_elyse) recently posted…Armchair BEA: Visual ExpressionsMy Profile

    • That has happened to me a few times as well that I start a book I am not in the mood for and really enjoy it, usually that means it’s a really good book I would’ve loved anyway. More often my mood puts a damper on a book when I am not in the mood for it, which is sad. And indeed I can even be in the mood for a book and hate it, but that has more to do with the book then. And ofcourse the book iself matters the most, but those other things can deifnitely change my enjoyment up or down slightly as well.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: What Influences your Enjoyment of a Book?My Profile

    • My mood and timing has a lot to do with how much I enjoy a book. Sometiems the timing isn’t right and sometimes I won’t know what I am in the mood for until I start reading. I picked up an erotica romance recently , but realized I wasn’t really in the mood for it and i felt that I enjoyed it less than I normally would.

  7. I agree with you on pretty much everything. I’ve had books that were affected by my mood, past books, previous books in the series, previous books that I’ve read, my expectations of the book.

    My biggest example is The Shadows by JR Ward. The books have been going down hill for me for a little while now. I get extremely excited for each new books, but then I’m increasing disappointed in the story. I think part of it is that I’m getting burnt out on the series and I’m putting too much expectations on the series at this point. It has a snowball effect and only seems to get worse as the series goes on. Because of this, I will probably quit the series. I know many people still love it, there are just parts of the story, that have always been a part of it, that are annoying me now. I’m not sure if they’ve gotten worse or if my tastes have changed or I’m just sick of it.

    The same is true, that I can give a series probably a higher rating than it deserves because I’m adding a little extra because I love the series than this particular books was that good. I can’t remember of an exact example off the top of my head, but I know I’ve gone back to look my ratings when rating another book in the series and I question my past judgement.

    Great topic.
    Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons recently posted…Polar Bared Audiobook by Eve Langlais (REVIEW)My Profile

    • It’s interesting how those external fatcors can influence how much we enjoy a book. That’s sad when you used to love a series and then keep havign high expectations and then getting disapointed. Maybe quitting the series is better in a case like that so at least you keep your fond memories of the series and the first books intact.
      I also have had a few series like that where my reading tasted started to change or the books got less enjoyable and it’s just sad when a series goes downhill and hard to decide how many more books you give a try before you give up on the series.
      And I also get what you mean with rating series higher because of general love for the series, that happened to me with Kelley Armstrong her Otherworld series even though her the last book wasn’t as good as the rest I still rated it a 5 star as I just love that series. It’s hard to seperate your enjoyment of that particular book from your enjoyement of the series or that author her books as whole sometimes.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting :). It’s fun to hear about other readers their opinion on this topic.

  8. I completely agree that a lot of external factors can really impact how we feel about a book – I try to mention in my reviews if something was going on in my personal life that made me less receptive to the book, since for me, daily life is probably the biggest external factor lately. Expectations can play a big role too though – if I’m too excited for a book I can really set it up to fail. Also – if I’ve heard a lot of negative talk about a book, that can actually work in its favor. Great post!
    Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted…Deep in Death by Colleen HelmeMy Profile

    • Things going on in your personal life can really influence how you enjoy books as well. I think it’s a good idea to mention those things in your review as well.
      I am the same with expctations they can really make or rbeak a book and indeed when I have low expectations or read a lot of negative reviews I can enjoy a book more because of the low expectations, but it also means I might not start reading it as soon as I would if I had high expectations. Sometimes having little or no expectations works really good as well.

  9. Interesting posts and views, Lola! I think I’m influenced all the time when it comes to enjoying a book. For one, I need to be in the mood for it. Sometimes, I read a book and end up not liking it because I feel like reading a sci-fi instead, but here I am with a contemporary because it’s an obligated read. Not sure if surrounding plays a part, though, because once I’m reading, I’m way too immersed in the story to give a care about my environment. There was once a time where I was eating dinner with friends and I was reading and I suddenly cried out in frustration because the MC was being stupid and my friends were like, “LOL ARE YOU OK?” Haha.
    Faye M. recently posted…Say It With Bubbles: Vampire Academy by Richelle MeadMy Profile

    • Mood is probably the biggest influence for me when it comes to these. I have had that happen to me quite soem tiems when readign and obligated read when I rather read another genre. Nowadays I try to time it better and only accept deadlines when I know I wantto read the book soon. I am not really influenced by my surroundings either and can read almost everywhere, but I can imagine that in specific situations or for certain people it can matter.

  10. I can’t think of any reasons I’d add, Lola. Mood, whether or not I have a book hangover, and deadlines are probably the biggest influences for me. This summer, I’m trying very hard to read more of what I want just to put more fun back into reading. πŸ™‚ This is a great post!

    Please excuse my absence…being away at RT and then trying to catch up with *everything* as my kids were finishing up the school year took time away from my computer. πŸ™‚ I hope things are going well in your world! <3
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Teaser Tuesdays #68My Profile

    • I spent last month reading a lot of books that I want to read after each other and it really helps to take a break from “for review” books now and then. I try to mix them up a few “for review” books and then a few book I bought myself or got for free. It’s important to keep the fun in reading!

      Things are going well here. I hope you had fun at RT! I wish I could attend one of those book conventions and meet all of you!

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