A Reader’s Life for MeApril 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.