Reading as a Reader, Not a Writer


Baby penguin in a life vest and holding a life preserver
Just because I liked the image.

I just finished a Harry Bosch book.  I really like most of his books, and especially how he describes Los Angeles.

And there’s a probably a writer out there reading it, but not enjoying the book….instead  searching for faults.

When I first got online, I was influenced by all the writers around me.  We all read books to see what NOT to do.  Particularly, we all read each sentence and picked at them.  That writer did too much showing and not enough telling.  This writer made a grammatical mistake.  That kind of stuff.

One day, I felt discouraged as a reader because all the books I was getting were terrible!

It was so bad I thought writing had gone downhill from when I was growing up.

So was out wandering around at work and someone had left a few copies of Mack Bolan or Nick Carter books.  These were men’s fiction, with a lot of action.  I’d read a number of them (yeah, I had a weird childhood.  Other girls read romances, and I read science fiction and action fiction).

I snatched those books up, looking forward to proving my point that writing had gone downhill.

Instead, I could see how the writing of books had evolved over time.  The problem wasn’t the books.

It was how I was reading them.

I made a decision then and there to read the next book without picking apart.  Just try to enjoy it.

That book was The Di Vinci Code.  That’s one of the books the writers on message boards really hate.  It was a runaway success and sold millions and millions of copies.  So the writers read it, pick at the sentences, and wonder how a book with so many “flaws” can be a best seller.

Also implying that the readers are stupid because they don’t see the flaws.

The readers don’t care.  As long as the story gives them whatever they’re looking for, that’s enough.  Doesn’t have to be perfect.  Perfect is boring anyway, and a book isn’t an English assignment, waiting to be graded.

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