Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why do we read?

Before I make a recommendation for a book these days, I ask first, are you a reader?  I am always perplexed that there are so many non-readers out there.  They don't display books in their homes, take books along for plane rides, refer to what they are reading, nor are they interested in my recommendations.

Reading for me is a hunger, knowing that there are stories I will never get to read makes me wildly uncomfortable, going to a bookstore and being inundated with hundreds of ideas which I can only skim makes me sad.  I am constantly trying to figure out how to carve out more time to read.

Whenever I post about a book I have read here, it is because I have finished it, and if I finish it it is because I enjoyed it, and I feel like it taught me something about how to write or how to be a better person.  It is unusual that I finish a book that I don't particularly care for.

I picked up Perfection from the bookstore after Christmas.  Its prominent place on one of those must read tables caught my eye every time I walked by, and after three or four times I took the bait: a memoir about a woman whose husband dies and then she discovers he cheated on her big time.  I really don't know what I was expecting.  The writing was not really magical or thoughtful and I did not particularly care for the narrator that much.  Yet, I felt compelled to read this long ghastly story of death and betrayal.  Nothing new was revealed about life as a wronged widow,  and I never did come to feel real compassion or warmth for the author.

So why did I finish it?  Was I attracted to the lurid story?  Was I waiting for some big reveal that never came?  Perhaps the story is better than I give it credit for?  Perhaps, as a writer, I read this to understand another way to tell a story?  A different style, a different arc of the pen?  How would I have told this story differently?  What advice would I give her if I had been in writing group with her?  I can't honestly say why I finished it.  I can recommend it if you are going through something similar or are interested in all types of memoir: learning how someone else tells a story.

How about you?  Do you finish all books you start?  What happens if you are reading a book you no longer enjoy?

1 comment:

Stacey K said...

I love your unabashed enthusiasm for reading. I find often that I feel guilty when I take time to just it isn't a viable's what you do when you don't have energy for something else. And yet, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read. So thanks for reminding me that it is it's own activity.