In college, I remember dissecting stories for their deeper meanings. Comparing and contasting Shakespeare plays. Did he really mean for the fools to always be the wisest in the whole story?
I do think that a lot of what an author experiences in real life, from people, places, events, hurts, challenges, dreams and joys, finds their way into the pages of their stories. The fact is though that some of what a reader might see as a theme may have never crossed the mind of the writer.
I wrote a story and someone told me how cool my symbolism was with some of the physical aspects of the story to the emotional challenge of the character. I was impressed. “Sure, yeah. I meant to do that.”
In reality, it was unconscious. I had no clue I had written that way.
Part of communication isn’t only what the writer or speaker says, but how the reader or listener interprets those concepts or images. As much as the writers brings everything about themselves to their story, so to does the reader. For that reason alone, every story is going to have some people who love it. The tale resonates with something deep inside them. For others, it will be a miss and not enjoyable. It’s not the author’s fault or the reader’s either. It just is.
You might like chocolate ice cream and I prefer mint chocolate chip. It’s a preference and matter of taste.
So enjoy whatever story you are reading. Go ahead and ask yourself what the story’s theme and concepts are, but don’t do that with the idea of trying to really “get” at what the author was really saying. Do it for what the story revealed to you, about you. Your needs, met or unmet. Your dreams, passions, preferences.
Then find those authors who have a style that your relate best to. And enjoy the story and the journey it takes you on. When a story does not appeal though, don’t bash the author in reviews etc, without admitting it’s a personal preference. Unless there are serious issues with the story and research etc, there’s no need to belittle the hard work of an author because you don’t like their style or subject matter.
Nicholas Sparks is a great writer. I prersonally don’t like crying every time I pick up one of his books. Stephen King is also a phenomenal writer and in reading his bio/book on writing, I can see why he writes the subject matter he does. I don’t read those books because I don’t like that kind of thing.
When you do love a author, do them a favor and let them know. Give them a review on the bookseller sites (Amazon, Goodreads, B&N . . .) or even send them an email or letter or message on facebook. Unless you are a writer, you cannot have any idea of the hard work it takes to write, revise, edit, find a agent/publisher/editor and get that book to print. While making money is nice–face it, we all need it to live–writer’s need to know that you appreciated their hours, days, weeks, months and years of labor to bring that story to you. It can be a frustrating and fatiguing process and only those who really love it and are called to this can persevere. So a pat on the back can help. Especially if you like them and want them to write more stories for you to enjoy.
Thank an author today. Who are your favorites to read?
You make so many good points, and I really like how you led up to an emphasis on choosing books that bring pleasure. And even that pleasure varies from reader to reader! Some are pleased when a book helps them escape, some are pleased when they feel educated after reading, or motivated, or comforted, or scared out of their wits 🙂 I think you know most of my favorite writers but a new one is Patrick McManus. He is a humor writer and I appreciate his wit. I think I might try some more John Mortimer ‘Rumpole’ books too. I reread my favorite books so often that I don’t broaden my experiences enough. (And I think I will let Patrick McManus know how much I like his books. Thanks for the gentle nudge!)
I have not read Patrick McManus but may need to look him up! I love wit in writing! Thanks for sharing. I see the the library has some and since I only live five blocks away and need to head there anyway – I’ll check him out. Maybe I’ll enjoy him too! I have so many favorites but I will say the one author I’ve read more than once and would read again is Dee Henderson’s O’Malley Series and her Uncommon Heroes. There are sO many authors I love though! I also want to read Lisa Lickel’s Healing Grace again. Loved that book.