I’ve had some interesting chats to a couple of people lately about books – the books we love, the books we can reread without getting halfway through and putting them down again, books that we outgrew – and I started wondering if there was a difference between people who write, and people who don’t.
When I first read a book I’m happy to let myself enjoy it, throw myself in and make a few allowances along the way should I need to for the story. But lately I’ve been finding that books I thought I loved, thought were amazing, aren’t really all that flash on second reading. Now, I don’t normally re-read books (perhaps this is why? I like to keep the idea of wonderful writing alive in my head?), but I have been making a point of flicking through some of my old favourites to see who has stood the test of time.
As a writer, I think I read in a different way now (slightly, anyway), even from a few years ago. If a book is badly written or is ridiculous (in a bad way) then chances are very high I’m not going to spend time on it – unless of course I’m trying to get to the bottom of why it’s so damn popular. But if it’s a reasonably well written and the story is engaging I’ll finish it. I don’t have the highest standards, but I’ve been putting down a lot more books lately than I used to.
There are a few novels that have fallen out of grace simply because as an older reader, a more experienced person, I crave slightly more intricate story lines. As a writer who is working on her craft, I’m more likely to notice clumsy word choices, head hopping and other things which detract from a story.
Do you find this? Do you have non writer friends who can re-read novels constantly and never get sick of them or pick up on the faults? I do, and I scratch my head sometimes wondering how they can do it over and over again. It might not be a difference between readers and reader/writers at all, it might just be the kind of person I am, but so much is lost from a novel when I read it a second or third time – or at least, the ones I have tried anyway, I’m obviously consuming a lot of ‘read once’ novels!
I did however start reading a series again recently and am so pleased that it’s just as good this time around. The writing is still solid, the story line captivating and I’m pretty sure I’ll be working my way through the three trilogies I have.
Unless of course you want to tell me what I could read instead?
What has stood the test of time for you? Are there novels you’d recommend that writers read as wonderful examples of writing? Are there things you thought you loved but have since found lacking?