The Tipping Point


Do you stay up later than you really should reading to finish a book?  Sometimes this is because you’re so near the end that five more minutes isn’t going to make a lot of difference.  However, sometimes and more frequently I find this is because I’ve reached a point in the story where I just can’t put the book down.  I call this the tipping point.  The point at which a change is inevitable and you have a hunch it’s about to occur, in this case the story end is in sight and you just have to know what it’s going to be, you can’t imagine how the author is going to resolve the various plot lines into some coherent whole (they had better or you’re going to be disappointed).

A Golden Retriever going over a teeter-totter ...

A Golden Retriever going over a teeter-totter at an agility competition. Edited (cropped) by Pharaoh Hound (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is normally the mark of a good book.  Unfortunately authors need to assess the proximity of the tipping point to the end of the novel.  If it’s too far then I stay up way too late and suffer the next day at work (although this does feel very indulgent).  If it’s too near the end then you’re left wanting a bit more and not sure how all the pieces got left.

Some books don’t seem to have them at all, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad.  In fact I’d say some of my favourite books discard the usual conventions and make up their own genre and structures (e.g The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold, The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffeneger).  But they provide a different kind of reading experience.

I thought I’d be at the tipping point with The Postmistress – Sarah Blake, but I don’t think it’s got one.  But I think I’ve reached the point where I will stay up late to finish it.  I’ll give it an overall rating then.


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