I've experimented with both critique partners and people I know (be they friends, family or colleagues) as unrewarded beta readers. The latter are very slow, sometimes reading slower than I wrote a first draft. Clearly, their reading periods are short and/or far apart. There are any number of personal reasons this may be understandable for an individual, but the pattern suggests I'm not writing page-turners people can't put down, which is presumably what every publisher and literary agent wants. And maybe that's why the former source of feedback often don't get back to me either.
We all know one kind of story that achieves that: the kind where the protagonist is always in danger and everything needs to be fixed now, and even then they'll still be in trouble. High-octane, so to speak. If you haven't read a book like that, you've probably watched a TV series that takes that approach, something like 24 or Death Note.
I really don't think the kinds of stories I want to tell, which explore themes and thrive on the ambiguous and thought-provoking, will ever look like that: at least, not if I'm their author, and my style stays as it is. But I do want to find some way to keep eyes on my work. (Apart from all the other obvious benefits, I'd get faster feedback on how to improve it.) So how else can a novel do that?
My stories are usually fairly fast-paced in terms of plot development; they don't have much in the way of padding or breathing spaces. But nor does everything that matters to the plot matter because a bomb might be about to go off. I'm worried I might be writing 20 years too late; because with so much choice today, people like to binge on something with the right kind of relentless addictiveness. Then again, if people are reading in the first place, they might be open to a broader range of experiences than those that TV as a medium provides.