Thursday, 21 April 2011

Reading Askance?

By Richard Jay Parker

If you're a writer, a reviewer, an editor, an agent or connected to the publishing industry is it really possible to blissfully enjoy any book as an unbiased reader again?

This came up in a conversation recently. What was the last book you really enjoyed without prejudice?

I recalled all the books that had turned me on to being a writer. Books that I read when I was a young shaver and only had an inkling it would be something I'd eventually attempt. I wondered how those books would stand up to scrutiny now.

As you grow older, of course, your reading tastes mature and naturally become more critical. Add to that the keen analysis that anyone involved in the industry has and the criteria for enjoyment changes.

As a writer I certainly run my finger along the top of the words to check for dust and beyond the text am probably considering the target readership etc

But, personally speaking, a good book can still override all that. Whenever I open a cover I'm a willing participant. I want to immerse myself in it and if it's not going to do that my instinct is as keen as any reader's. But when I do get dragged in - when I find myself reading just one more chapter, then another, then another - I still get the same thrill I experienced when I was a kid.



  1. Well, I am a writer, I have to admit. I think I lost my way a bit on the reading front, reading with a critical eye, making comparisons. Saying, pfffft, I can write that better (probably couldn't, actually :)). Then, with the struggle to get pubbed and the demands on time around social networking – never mind the family and day job, I found myself not reading. But then, after too long in the wordless wilderness, I realised I’d robbed myself of something irreplaceable, food for the soul. Now, I read. My eye is no longer critical (unless the book is awful, of course). I’m selective, and I find myself in awe and enriched. You can’t write if you don’t read. It’s not really possible. You can learn so much, too. Your character POV in Stop Me was superb. It’s thriller, yes, but I smiled in appreciation at how you had handled the focus on the main character. I was completely attuned to Leo and how he chose to cope with his loss. I keep using the word “excellent”. It is.

  2. With the insanity of life and the time I make for writing I don't read as much as I'd like. If I end up reading something that doesn't hook me, I find myself mentally critiquing it, but when I read a book and enjoy it, the world still slips away. The exact same way it did when I was a child. I hope I never lose that. Recently, I greatly enjoyed a book called "The Onion Girl" by Charles de Lint.

  3. I generally read for a purpose: if it's for pleasure I can just let the novel wash over me, if it's to get my writing mind working then I'll be more analytical, and if it's for review then, boy, I'm highlighting all over the place. I think I like reading for pleasure best!

  4. Thanks, Leanne. You're right, it's certainly difficult fiding time to read particularly with all the demands on a writer aside from the usual daily chores. A good book is always worth making time for though. Thanks for your kind comments about STOP ME.

    Good of you to drop in, Rose. I haven't read THE ONION GIRL but it sounds just like one of those books that enthralls you enough to bypass your analytical impulse.

    Thanks, Lauracea. Reading for pleasure is definitely more enjoyable than highlighting. Good job there are so many books out there to discover!

  5. I find that I am able (I think) to see where the writer has had a block and dribbles on for a while filling in with irrelevant material. It's like seeing the building blocks of a novel and understanding how it has been put together. It's only possible when you've been there and had that problem. I'm working on a story at the moment and am having trouble with it. I keep changing the storyline and wondering if I'll ever reach the end. And if I do, will my publisher like it? But what about the reader, will he or she click on the problems I had? Still, for all that, it's great fun.