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A Reader’s Life for Me

April 6, 2015

I generally try to keep my blog topics to my experiences writing and publishing, but I feel like the picture would be incomplete if I didn’t explore at least a little bit of the third major part of the book creating experience: reading.

If you follow me on Facebook you’ll see that I semi-regularly ask you guys what you’re reading. This is partly to get some suggestions for myself, and partly because I like to get a feel for what you guys are interested in. Mostly, though, I just love to talk about books. A lot.

I recently finished Gone with the Wind. It was my first time reading it, and I still haven’t seen the movie, so the whole thing was fairly surprising. I went in with the vague idea that something burns and that someone doesn’t give a damn, but beyond that I was clueless. I’m grateful for this, because as a result I was treated to a lot of horror, and a lot of magic.

“He doesn’t say frankly!” I cried to my friend as soon as I was done with the last sentence. “He just says, ‘My dear, I don’t give a damn!'”

Needless to say, we were both shocked.

A little while later I ended up babbling to my husband about how Rhett falls in love with Scarlet the moment he finds out she wants Ashley and out of it as soon as he finds out that she doesn’t anymore (crazy, right?!), and calling my mom to tell her the same thing. Finding meaning in a book that no one around you has read, at least not recently, is even more frustrating than trying to explain to friends who don’t follow your favorite series why you are so traumatized at this week’s cliffhanger. Fortunately, one of our dinner companions that night declared that Gone with the Wind was her favorite movie and I was able to launch into a wonderfully satisfying discussion about Scarlett, Rhett, Mellie, and how it all reflected what the South was going through at the time. It was excellent.

I’ve come to realize that I can’t just read anymore. Due to having a book published myself I’ve come to regard books with more criticism and also more admiration than ever before. It’s very hard to take off my editorial glasses, so to speak, but at the same time becoming involved with someone else’s story has become a crazy intimate thing. As I read, I imagine how much the author loved all the characters, wonder which scenes were difficult to write, and feel how nervous they must have been when they finally declared, “No more edits!” and sent it away to print. And I respect every single one.

Yes, there are definitely books that I am not crazy about. I’ve read more than one just within the past couple months. I see places that needed more thought and editing, and can tell what parts were rushed through. I don’t always like story lines, or voices, or characters, o r even whole books in general. But I also know how hard it is to write.

Writers, have you had similar transformative experiences with your views on books? Are you more critical now? More supportive? A little (or a lot) of each?

Readers, how have your experiences reading changed throughout the years? Can you see it change book to book? Or has it stayed pretty much the same?

Let me know, because this is seriously one of my favorite things to talk about.

— Amy

Rhett and Scarlett like nobody's business. I still need to see the movie.

Rhett and Scarlett like nobody’s business. Movie night, anyone?

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3 responses to “A Reader’s Life for Me”

  1. Hebergeur says:

    As Scarlett continues to battle the disease, Marina and Donae are donating a portion of the book’s proceeds to pediatric cancer research. “It was a challenging journey for me to bring the richness and complexity of this story and make emotional connections to young readers through my illustrations,” Marina states.

  2. Cameron says:

    I have found that I have been significantly more critical of other writer’s work. I also see how their writing can be improved though and often want to reach out to them and let them know. Like author to author I want to help them lol.

    I am also the kind of person who will not read a book all the way through unless I feel compelled too but since I started writing and now am looking at publishing I find that I will give a book more chances and chapters before giving up on it.

  3. Joella says:

    I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately in relation to children’s books in particular. For an independent study, I’m looking at how children’s books become an integral part of memories from childhood and whatnot, which means I have to recall how I reacted to books when I was little. It’s turning out to be a lot of fun, and I have really visceral “OH MY GOD I REMEMBER THIS BOOK” feelings about books I honestly haven’t thought about in years, such as Harold and the Purple Crayon, or When the Sun Rose.

    That aside, my experience reading has definitely changed over the years. Since I’m a lit major, I read for school pretty much 9 months out of the year, which means the LAST thing I want to do during my breaks is read. But I still love it a lot, It usually take me a good few weeks — if it’s Christmas break — or a good couple months for summer break before I have the itching urge to pick up a book agin. I’ve found over the years that my attention span has definitely decreased, which means it’s more difficult for me to finish books these days. But when I find a book that really truly grips me, I race through it extremely quickly. 🙂 Currently making my way through The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer, and it’s wonderful! I definitely recommend it.

    Sorry for the novel, ha. I kind of like talking about books a lot…..

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