Monday, April 26, 2010

What Kind Of Reader Are You?

What kinds of books do you absolutely love? What books do you read over and over again because you can’t get enough of them? And, when you’re reading, are you always critiquing what’s on the page? Or can you just sit back and enjoy the story?

Generally, I’m an analytical reader. I’ve always been that way. Before I started writing novels, the only thing my brain picked apart was plot. I’d get annoyed if the plot contradicted itself, went in convoluted directions, or if it just plain didn’t make sense. After I started writing novels, though, I automatically started to analyze other aspects of the story, like character, setting, dialog, etc. Now, it’s almost impossible for me to sit down and read a book completely for enjoyment. My brain is constantly picking apart the craft that went into the story because I want to learn from it.

It’s rare that I can sit down and completely lose myself in a story these days, where the only thing I think about is ‘what’s going to happen next?’ It recently happened with Lisa Shearin’s series about an elf named Raine Benares. I checked out the first two books from the library and enjoyed them so much that I had to go out and buy the whole series. The fourth book is coming out tomorrow, and I am beyond excited. :)

It also got me thinking...what was it about these books that shut off my inner editor? Was it how much I loved the characters? The setting? The pacing?

No, no, and no. All these things are good, but there are still plenty of things that my inner editor could point out. So, it’s none of those things. It’s the fact that these books are fantasy. And, they’re also written for adults, not teens. I don’t write adult, and I don’t write fantasy. I love to read fantasy, and that’s pretty much all I read as a kid. But I don’t write it. Why? I have no idea. But I think my inner editor knows I’ll never write this kind of story, so it went on vacation. Much to everyone’s enjoyment. :)

That got me thinking some more (no, I never stop thinking). What do other writers read? Do you read the same kind of stories that you write? Do you read outside of your own personal interest in the interest of learning? Do you read for enjoyment, or is it impossible for you to turn off your inner editor? Please share!!


Marcia said...

I don't think reading in categories I'll never write is what turns off my inner editor. What turns it off is if the writer can make me love a character and world (it's usually both) so much that I want to BE them, or be there, or even imagine myself another character in the book. If I'm that transported, I'll forgive the writing (or minor plot inconsistencies) because obviously the writing also transported me, regardless of pedestrian sentences or too many adverbs.

Danyelle L. said...

Interesting. I do read a lot of what I write, but I'll read just about anything so long as the characters and plot are interesting and it doesn't go against the things I believe in. That being said, I have the hardest time writing contemporary, but I enjoy reading it. :D

Bish Denham said...

I'm a cross-genre reader. Adult, YA, MG, fiction, non-fiction. SciFi, fantansy, mystery, biography, history, historical romance, true crime. Whatever.

I'm pretty much the opposite of you Tabitha. I read for enjoyment more than anything else. Because I'm a rather slow reader you'd think I'd get analytical. But I rarely do. It's all very basic for me. I either like it or I don't. The characters and plot carry me along or they don't. If I analyzed everything I think I'd lose the desire to read.

Elisa Dane said...

I read to escape, lol! I spend most of my day carting around my three daughters and by the time 5pm rolls around I'm ready to check out. Reading allows me the escape I need.

I'll read just about anything as long as the plot is good, but I mostly stick with paranormal romance. Not surprising, this is the genre I write in as well.

Cate Kariaxi said...

When I absolutely love something, I tend to read too fast to get analytical.

I will go analytical if the book is not the best thing I've read or it doesn't totally 'win' me.

A good example would probably be the three teen vamp books I'm reading right now. I'm reading the first book PAINFULLY slow. And I keep finding excuses to put it down. Why? Because the person who wrote the books was trying to be too cute and flippant about the plot, characters, dialogue, and worldbuilding and it came across as cartoony to me.

I keep finding myself stopping to scribble obnoxious notes in a little 'book diary' (my must-never-go-public version of a food diary).


But the books that are well written and in which the author hit all of the target spots for me + took the plot, character, worldbuilding, dialogue seriously <- those I gobble up in a day or less.

Unknown said...

I browse book stores. When I find a paperback that looks interesting, I buy it regardless of genre. Fortunately, I spend a lot of time in used book stores.

As for the inner-editor-thing, I know the book has problems when the editor turns on.

Unknown said...

There is always a part of me that's analytical. It's what I like--I did major in English Lit, am currently a World Lit teacher, and like to analyze other writing in terms of style to improve my own. But if I can get so sucked into a book that I forget to analyze--that's the sign of a good book to me.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I generally read to enjoy a book and escape. I wish I was more analytical like you. It might help me with my own writing. I write fantasy and that's what I tend to read the most, though I do try to expand my horizons.

I really like the Lisa Shearin series too. Like you, I don't read much adult fiction. I don't have time.

Angela Hoffman said...

As you know, I'm a pretty critical reader. Funnily enough, though, all of my reading is for pleasure (or an attempt at pleasure).

I never sit down to read thinking that I will analyze what's on the page. If a book is good, I will blow through the pages knowing that I love the characters, the plot, the pacing, the story arc, etc. or whatever it is about that book that I love. However, I don't think consciously about it. I just think, "Wow, this writer is so good!" It's when I don't enjoy a book that I start analyzing. With a truly good book, no analysis is necessary b/c it has everything it should. But with a subpar book, I then start looking to find what it is that is missing.


C.R. Evers said...

Awesome post! I think, in my basic being, I'm a plot person. However, now that I've become more aware of 'character drive' plots, I"m sensitive to that now as well.

I've also found that I'm enjoying topics that I didn't think I would. For example: ghost stories. Last year I read several "ghost" books and I LOVED them. Who knew!? Now I'm open to anything. Give me great character, great plot, great writing and I'm oblivious to anything else.

C. K. Kelly Martin said...

Mostly I read YA or literary adult books. I don't consciously critique what's on the page but I don't think my critical faculty entirely turns off unless a book is blowing my mind (I'm the same with movies and plays). I find I get annoyed with plot driven stuff because it doesn't feel real and then that calls attention to the fact that I'm reading fiction when what I want is to feel like I'm getting a peek into someone else's reality.

I never really reread anything - there are too many new books to discover and once I've digested the story the thrill is kind of gone.

PJ Hoover said...

I LOVE when I can lose myself in a book, and like you, it is so few and far between. But when I do, it's the best.