Upon completing a work of fiction, readers are typically rewarded with one of two feelings of accomplishment: The "I'm-so-much-more-educated-and-better-off-for-having-read-that-highly-literate-piece-of-prose" kind of accomplishment, or the "I-just-devoured-that-book-faster-than-a-stoner-could-eat-a-bag-of-Peanut Butter Chex Mix" kind. Both elicit a justifiable amount of pride within readers, because, let's face it, reading books makes us feel good about ourselves.
It's especially edifying, then, to finish a book and have actually enjoyed it, as was the case when I reached the last page of Matt Richtel's Hooked: A Thriller About Love and Other Addictions after a mere five hours (adjusted for bathroom breaks, dinner and a quick trip to the dog park). Clearly, I was feeling all four-foot-bongs-and-bags-of-snack-mix-like, but it wasn't just a smug sense of satisfaction that kept me awake in bed for another hour. It was the novel's pace. And its hooks.
Richtel, a San-Francisco-based tech writer for the New York Times and a Boulder native, understands the importance of keeping readers' attention. In the aptly titled Hooked, his first novel, Richtel accomplishes this by keeping each of the pop thriller's chapters short (usually less than five pages) and ending them with just enough of a hook to demand that all but the heavily distracted or previously engaged keep reading. The Internet-age story which features café explosions, dirty cops, espionage and a grisly acupuncture torture scene, among other plot-propelling devices is difficult to deny or walk away from, despite any occasionally predictable or unbelievable developments.
Feel a super sense of literary accomplishment tonight at 7:30 p.m. by attending Richtel's reading and signing at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Get more information about the author and event at www.mattrichtel.com or www.tatteredcover.com.