The Pleasure of Reading
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 08 2007
I was recently asked:
Does reading for work spoil your reading for pleasure? In other words, are you pickier about the books you read than you were before your publishing career?
No and yes. I think that reading for work actually increases the pleasure I get out of reading. When I read a book for pleasure I can do just that—read the book. I don’t have to edit it, evaluate it, review it later, or even give my opinion to anyone. I can just curl up and read what I hope to be a really good book. It’s really the only time that I can truly lose myself in the writing and story and not have to worry about analyzing it later.
But am I pickier? Yes. In my younger days I finished every book I read, whether I liked it or not. Now I’m not as likely to do so. In fact, there have been times that I’ve enjoyed a book (but not loved it) and still didn’t finish it. I knew basically what was going to happen and figured my time could be better spent elsewhere. While I enjoyed the writing and the book, I didn’t fall in love enough to finish it.
And of course part of picking the books I read for pleasure often relates to work. They are very often the books I should be reading to keep up with market trends, or editor recommendations.
I think that when you’re truly passionate about something, like I am about books, you can never get enough. Most publishing professionals love to read for work and pleasure, most writers love to write (many even still write letters) and chefs truly love to cook (and eat).
After film school, it took years to be able to watch a movie without analyzing every little element. But eventually, your brain learns to toggle between the two settings.
I know what you mean about less likely to finish whether you liked it or not. I used to do the same thing, see it through to the end no matter what, and now, if it doesn’t hook me pretty quick, I’m done. I don’t tend to review the books I don’t enjoy, I’d rather tell people what was great and what they should definitely read that what wasn’t, so I’m ready to move on to something better if I don’t get hooked right away. I’ve got a big stack waiting. (:
I wish I could learn to turn off my internal editor. I’m constantly looking for problems in my own work, and find myself doing it in the books I choose to read for pleasure. There’s a part of my brain that’s constantly in “rewrite” mode, and it’s made me a lot choosier about what I will actually read all the way through.
I was thinking the same thing since I read books for review and I’ve had a few lately that I’ve not been able to get into and have told the sites that I review for that I’ve not been able to get past such and such page and couldn’t give the book an honest opinion.
I think that reviewing books has put a small cramp in my reading for pleasure – lol – I try not to be analytic when reading for pleasure but I still find myself nitpicking or analyzing the story to myself if for no one else.
I just finished reading a YA (more middle grade or even a bit lower – the characters are about 12 and I’m guessing the target audience for this book would be 8-12 year olds which is just under middle grade level) for pleasure and was a bit disappointed when the mystery was revealed about half way through the story but then there was another mystery that leads into the second book basically – but I also felt that the action of the two girls changed the backstory and thereby the ending and beginning weren’t really together. But that is just me and I still recommended that a friend’s daughter who is writing a story involving magical coins would enjoy this book and even gain some ideas on how to get her characters to do whatever they are supposed to do – so I recommended that this 8 year old read the story and gain what she could from it. I will probably get the second book to read it as well but only because I want to know what happens since the girls have changed history in a sense –
So reading for pleasure and reviewing books for several websites, albeit not for editing or publishing purposes, does change me. I love to read but I too tend to be pickier on the reading side – E 🙂
I totally agree with you, Kate. There are times I’d like to strangle my “internal editor” when I’m writing, but when I’m reading for pleasure I don’t seem to have that trouble. Hmmm…