reading


It’s taken me a long time to realize there are people who love to read but who don’t give a damn about how a thing is written. Yeah, I know, should have been obvious with one browse of bestseller books—but, somehow, the concrete realization of this fact  managed to elude me. Of course, not all bestsellers are badly written. Many are quite well written, in fact. But now and then someone comes along like Stieg Larsson or Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer or E. L. James who are really atrocious at narrative but still manage to concoct a compelling story and capture that certain something in the zeitgeist that has people flocking to them.

Full disclosure: I am again attempting to read Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and this time it seems to be sticking, but I have bounced off Larsson and these other writers. I probably won’t try the others again as there seem to be diminishing returns and too many other things I’d rather read. The thing is, as I have been struggling with my own writing, I have also been struggling with my ability to read fiction. I keep bouncing off of books, even well-written ones, even those by old favorites, and I’ve been longing to become immersed in something. I’m far enough past Larsson’s tell-not-show and long infodump opening that the mystery of Tattoo has had a chance to hook me, so I may actually finish this book. No guarantees, though. It’s been the first part of December since I finished anything, even rereads of old favorites. (The last was Deborah Harkness’s Times Convert, the follow-on book to her All Souls Trilogy. It was meh, but I’d loved the other books and wanted to catch up on the characters.)

My writing and my fiction reading have always been connected. One feeds the other, even if what I’m reading has nothing to do with what I’m writing. Being immersed in someone else’s world for a time helps stimulate the mystic place in my brain where my own singing starts. I can’t help thinking that if I cure one symptom it might help cure the other.

I’m still writing almost every day, and it’s still mostly like pulling teeth, but I do plant butt in chair. Most days it isn’t much more than 500 or so words. Some days I’m blessed by 1000 or so. Today, all I managed was 250. But the important part is sitting my butt in the chair, opening the file, and doing something.

So, readers who don’t care how a thing is written. It’s all good. People should like what they like regardless of nerds like me who care about those things. I once had a friend who absolutely refused to read when he was younger, even though it caused him problems in school. He was a bright, imaginative, funny fellow but he just hated reading. Then one day when he was in high school a perceptive teacher shoved a science fiction book into his hands. He was intrigued by the premise and started to read. From that moment on, he became a voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy. He always had a book in his hands. He did confess to me, though, that he often skipped the descriptive parts and dialogue tags and read just the dialogue so he could get through the story faster.

And therein hangs a tale: there are many people like him. Not only do they not care how a thing is written, they want to get through the story as fast as possible to find out what happens. No savoring. They don’t really care about “the art of story,” that immersive feel of a book. It’s a mystery to me why they read at all—but again, that’s not for me to decide. People should be allowed to like what they like and how they like it, and no one—well-meaning nerd, politicizing authors, crusading literati, anyone—has the right to tell them otherwise.

There are no shoulds in reading. Only what gets you through the night. And the book.

 

 

Random quote of the day:

“Read widely, and without apology. Read what you want to read, not what someone tells you you should read.”

—Joyce Carol Oates, The Faith of A Writer

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“When you re-read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before.”

—Clifton Fadiman, Any Number Can Play

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“You only really ever live in 1 place: a single occupant apartment made of bone, 22 centimeters by 18. You want furniture, you have to read.”

—Joe Hill, Twitterfeed, August 13, 2012

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“The only way you learn how to write is by writing.Because that is the way it is done. Because there is no other way to do it. Not one other way.Compulsive diligence is almost enough. But not quite. You have to have a taste for words. Gluttony. You have to want to roll in them. You have to read millions of them by other people. You read everything with grinding envy or weary contempt.”

—John D. McDonald, introduction to Stephen King’s Night Shift

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face…. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.”

—Edward P. Morgan, Clearing the Air

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“(Lord’s Day.) Took physique all day, and, God forgive me, did spend it in reading of some little French romances.”

—Samuel Pepys, diary, February 10, 1661

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

jaime big

Back in 2012, I read the opening pages of a book called Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer and immediately fell in love with the beautiful prose, the complex and rounded characters, the setting of turn-of-the-century San Francisco, and the magical blend of paranormal and crime thriller. Now I’ve finished the third book in that trilogy and I’m happy to say that everything I loved about the first book (and the second) is still there—and many wonderful new elements have been added.

Ms. Moyer has done another splendid job of coming up with a solid and riveting plot mixed with the urgent needs and half-understood messages of the ghosts haunting Delia Ryan. Ms. Moyer’s villains are always haunting and harrowing, and this book is no exception, giving us a truly unique and shiver-inducing baddie. The confusion and turmoil of the world right after World War I is captured with striking immediacy. Desperate European refugees from the chaos of the war’s conclusion seek to find new lives for themselves only to be ruthlessly—and supernaturally—hunted by those they left behind. But Ms. Moyer never loses the human dimension, making even minor characters memorable people the reader cares about.

It’s been a joy to see the central characters grow, change, and deepen over the course of these three books, and I will miss them. I can only hope we meet again sometime. The Delia books have been a rich and satisfying read, first to last.

Random quote of the day:

“Most of what makes a book ‘good’ is that we are reading it at the right moment for us.”

—Alain de Botton, Twitterfeed, 2/5/12

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“The real issue with the internet may be that it erodes, slowly, one’s sense of self, one’s capacity for the kind of pleasure in isolation that reading has, since printed books became common, been standard.”

—Henry Hitchings, quoted in The Guardian, 15 July 2010, “The Art of Slow Reading”

 reading4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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