I brought two books with me because I don't own a e-reader and so can't take along an entire library the way Kindle owners (you know who you are) can do. Please feel free to leave a comment about how wonderful your e-book reader is for this very reason: ease of travel.
Okay, so I was packing in a rush yesterday morning and had time to grab just two books: The Element of Fire by Martha Wells, which I've had on my bedside table for so long I don't remember who recommended it or why, and Arm Candy by Jo Leigh, which Robin/Janet recommended over on Dear Author, in part because there's a wonderful gender-role switch with the heroine being the high-powered businessperson in need of a superficially appropriate companion for a business function and the hero volunteering for the job.
I know I'm going to enjoy both books. Element of Fire is a fantasy; I like fantasies. Arm Candy is a Harlequin Blaze; I like that line. I rather thought I would want to start Element of Fire first because I worried Arm Candy would be an Espresso Book and I really needed a good night's sleep. But when I picked up Element of Fire and read the blurb on the back cover, I put it down and started Arm Candy instead.
Why? Because Element of Fire is a speed bump book for me: a book that generates a mental barrier I have to "get over" in order to read. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner was a speed bump book. I enjoyed it (perhaps not as much as others have) once I got started, but it sat around a long time before I cracked it open.
I can identify some possible reasons why some books will have speed bumps and others won't. Whether I know the author is an obvious one: once I know an author's style, I'm much more likely to dive into another of her books. But, interestingly, a DNF can reset that reason; after a DNF, the next book I have by the same author may have a speed bump.
Subgenre is an obvious reason. I'm not an automatic reader of paranormals, fantasies, sci-fi romances, or romantic suspense books. I've read great books in all those sub-genres, but any given book in a sub-genre may have a speed bump.
Forgetting why I got the book in the first place. It may not be helping Element of Fire, for example, that I can't recall why it was recommended.
Apparent difficulty in getting a book started. Some books just seem like they'll be harder to read -- maybe because there's more disbelief to be suspended, or because the writing is denser, or the book seems long. (A 500-page Nora Roberts may not seem like a long book the way a 300-page novel by a new author might.)
Finally, my fear that I won't finish a book is a definite speed bump. I can't know in advance which book will evoke this feeling, but it's an unpleasant sensation even about a book I know I wanted to read. (Which prompts the question: what fuels a fear that I won't finish a book? But that'll have to be the subject of its own post!)
Here's the crazy part: I'm going to read Element of Fire (just not today) and I'm going to like it, maybe even love it. But after I do, I'll still discover speed bumps when picking among my TBR piles. Sometimes a speed bump book reveals itself to be a book I adore and can't wait to rave about. Not even that miracle removes speed bumps from other books in my TBR.