Friday, 30 December 2011

On ways to read a book

As a child I was taught that when you read a book, you start at the beginning and read right through to the end.  Even if it was boring and not engaging you.  Once you start a book, you don’t give up.  You do NOT peek at the last few ages to spoil the surprise.  That would be sacrilege.  I’m not sure how old I was when I started to cheat.  Late teens I think.  I was reading a book that I was finding hard work,  So I took a quick look at the last page to see if it was worth my persevering with the journey.  It was.  I realise that I am not usually a linear, sequential  reader.  I like to jump about when I read, dipping in and out of different sections.  I might start towards the end and then go back.  When I browse in a bookshop, I pick up the book that attracts me, and read the last few lines.  Then back a bit further.  Then the opening page.  Possibly a few pages from the middle.  Before I buy it.  I may take it home and read it straight through.  Or I may continue to dip.  Some of my friends and writing students are quite horrified at this way of reading.  Am I being disrespectful?
As a writer, how would I feel if my stories were read like this?  If my carefully constructed narrative and pacing leading up to the thrilling climax was sidestepped?  Interesting question. 

Books I have enjoyed over the past year include:
The Crimson Petal and the White - Michel Faber
Stephen King on Writing
Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky
Nocturnes by Kazuo Ichiguro
Status Anxiety by Alain De Botton
Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
Feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers  (first read many moons ago - revisiting!)

On the go at present are Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and Rumblestrip by Woodrow Phoenix.
All of these books have taught me something new and that's why I love them......

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