Inspired by this post from Book Riot, Gentle Reader, I decided I wanted to blog about the 10 things that I deeply believe as a reader (as opposed to an author).
I know, it’s amazing, but guess what? I get to be BOTH!
1. Novels are part of the entertainment industry.
Thus the defining factor is: was I entertained? Did I like it? Why or why not? Did it accomplish what it was trying to do as a representative of its genre? As a work of fiction? Did I find it boring?
2. Novels are subjective.
Books cannot be objectively defined as good or bad, they can only be defined as well written or badly written and even then it’s a matter of genre conventions. The reader ALWAYS brings themselves to to novel and their understanding of it.
3. No one book is for everyone.
No. Really. Just because I love it with a mad passion doesn’t mean everyone else has to. Although I will still crow about it a lot.
4. Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.
See #3. I can always dislike a book because it didn’t work for me, because it disagreed with my world view, was badly edited, etc… But it’s not my responsibility to take that as an excuse to “fix” someone else’s opinion.
My time is better spent reading the next book than arguing over the worthiness of the last.
5. Books that bring comfort are just as important as books that bring excitement or deep thought.
Humans have an instinct to take narratives and genres more seriously if they have sad, depressing, or amorphous endings. This is the same part of the brain that makes writers focus on the one bad review when compared to all the good ones. This results in a systemic social weakness because critics, academics, and society prioritize, reward, and value certain genres over others. (And I talk about why in The Heroine’s Journey.) But…
IT’S OKAY TO LOVE A BOOK JUST BECAUSE IT MADE YOU FEEL GOOD!
6. You don’t have to keep the book.
You don’t have to keep it if you aren’t going to finish it. You don’t have to keep it if you have finished it. And you don’t have to keep it if you aren’t ever going to read it. It’s okay to let a book go.
7. You never never never have to finish a book.
Unless it’s for school or review or some outside professional obligation. But if you’re reading for pleasure… it should be pleasurable. If it isn’t, stop.
8. Learning about novels should answer the “why” question.
Speaking of… if you’re assigned novels as part of a curriculum the important thing to know is why the book matters as a piece of art and entertainment for its place and time. Did the book have impact on culture? Did it effect change? Did it help define genres still being read today? Did it sell well? Why was it popular or not? No book is intrinsically worthy. And if you’re assigned to read something in school the onus is on the professor to explain WHY that novel is considered worth studying.
It’s always okay to ask the question:
Why should I read this?
9. Jane Austen wrote romance.
Not only that, she wrote and established 6 of the most popular romance tropes. She also used both romance and humor to engage with social commentary.
10. I find many of the “first” or historically defined “best” and “greatest” novels dull.
I think The Lord of the Rings is boring, but so is Grapes or Wrath, Tale of Two Cities, The Red & the Black. That’s because I find books where the author plays with language as part of the narrative excessively dull. I dislike modern jazz for the same reason. I’m not into the artist/writer/musician noodling about with their own talent for the sake of the talent itself. But that’s my hang up, not theirs. But that’s okay, because ya know what? I don’t have to read them. See point #2.
Yours (nevertheless still destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),
- Vixen Ecology ~ Interstitial short story featuring Mana and Lovejoy, follow up to The Enforcer Enigma, is available to Chirrup members as a digital exclusive. That’s Gail’s newsletter. If you sign up you will get a link to buy and download after you’re through the confirmation process. It’s a short story, digital ONLY. Why?
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BOOK DE JOUR!
Ambush or Adore: Delightfully Deadly #2 – AGATHA’S BOOK
London’s best and most covert spy tries to escape the man who has always adored her. Out October 1, 2021
Delightfully Deadly Omnibus coming Feb 2022!
Agatha’s book, Ambush or Adore will release IN PRINT as part of a special hardcover Delightfully Deadly omnibus coming Feb 2022. (No fixed date as print operations are currently in flux.)
- I have a fun techno-fantasy in production, about a world where magic only works when you’re dating someone, and the boy who falls in love with the wrong person.
- Need to know what else Gail is working on right now? That’s in the Chirrup.
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